Colin Kaepernick’s now famous refusal to stand for the US national anthem has sparked a watershed moment in sports, both on and off the field. As protests against police brutality and racism have reached a fever pitch in the USA, more and more athletes are using their stature and fame to make their voices heard in the fight for justice.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump rose to power as President-elect amidst widespread allegations of sexual assault - instances he later dismissed as “locker-room talk”. What will challenging sexism and misogyny look like under a Trump presidency, and how can we acknowledge that the assault that Trump boasted of is indeed part of sports’ “locker-room talk”, while at the same time fighting against it? And how will the virulent Islamophobia that Trump represents impact Muslim athletes both on and off the field?
The playing fields of today are an incredibly rife terrain for contesting the ugliest of social injustices. Fans, players, and coaches are realizing that the stakes are high for activism in sports, and that oppression doesn’t stop once the players enter the arena. While sports wield an incredible power due to their profit generation and media omnipresence, fans and athletes are demanding a re-orientation of that power to serve a common social good. This can be evidenced in campaigns to change racist, anti-Indigenous mascots (Washington Redskins, Edmonton Eskimos), mobilizations against international sporting bodies such as the Olympics (Vancouver 2010) or FIFA (Brazil 2014), or efforts to compensate the victims of head concussions sustained in competition (notably in football and hockey).
Athlete activists of today are drawing inspiration from legends such as Mohammed Ali, Serena Williams, Roberto Clemente, and a seemingly endless list of others who refuse to simply “shut up and play”.
Free and open to the public
(This venue is wheelchair accessible)