September 21–23, 2023
How can the history of activism in sports help us understand the dynamics shaping conflicts today? How might labor relations in sport be imagined differently? How does the structure of sporting entertainment provide opportunities and obstacles to activism, and how can activists navigate these challenges?
As fans flock to sports arenas to cheer for their favorite teams, these spaces are simultaneously important societal battlegrounds. From acts of political protest by players to legislative debates about who can compete on school teams, athletics are at the center of today’s culture wars. The Obermann Arts and Humanities Symposium “Sports, Power, and Resistance: Legacies and Futures” featured leading scholars of history, sociology, cinema and media studies, rhetoric, and cultural studies; together, they mapped the past, explored the present, and charted future paths in the contested terrain of sports as a political force.
Organized by well-known scholars of sport, media and culture, Thomas Oates (American Studies and Journalism & Mass Communication) and Travis Vogan (Journalism & Mass Communication and American Studies), this symposium contextualized the contemporary politicized sportscape within a long and significant history of political movements through sports. By bringing together research on political activism in sports, participants thought through the possibilities for a new understanding of social relations through and in sport.
All symposium events were free and open to the public.