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Rose Bowl Institute to Host Discussion on Athletic Activism and Race

Should athletes take a stand or just ‘shut up and dribble’?

Published on Monday, April 5, 2021 | 1:59 pm

The Rose Bowl Institute will air its next program on race and sports titled “Collective Athlete Activism on Jackie Robinson Day” at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 15.

“Collective Athlete Activism” is the third in the series “Dialogues on Race and Sports,” which began in 2020, dedicated to former Pasadena resident, pro baseball legend and civil rights pioneer Jackie Robinson. 

“Athletes today do not separate themselves from issues in the broader society, and racial justice is one area where they have been very outspoken, both individually and collectively,” said Rose Bowl Institute President Charlie Firestone. “This session will explore that dynamic.”

Thanks to the contributions of private donors, the program will be available for free on the institute’s YouTube channel and its website,

Viewers can register here.

The dialogue will explore the topic of collective athlete activism as it relates to race and sports in contemporary society in a one-hour moderated discussion. 

The panel will consist of LA Dodgers President Stan Kasten; Angela LaChica, CEO and president of LaChica Sports and co-manager of the players’ coalition; Amira Davis, a Penn State educator specializing in 20th-century American history; and Assistant Coach and Former Professional Softball Player Kiki Stokes. The discussion will be moderated by FOX News journalist and political analyst Juan Williams.

Panelists will discuss the impetus for their activism, the pros and cons of collective activism on teams and leagues, and their impact on the broader society.  

Sports have a history of athlete activism.

 In the modern era, individual athletes have made activism statements, for example, in the context of an award ceremony in the 1968 Olympics, or kneeling for the national anthem before professional football games. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali’s refusal to step forward and be drafted in the Vietnam War made him one of the most powerful voices in the civil rights movement. 

More recently, teams and even leagues have come together to give collective expression to their civil sentiments.

 In 2016, the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx wore custom shirts that read “Change Starts with Us: Justice & Accountability,” and in August 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted a scheduled NBA game, leading to a larger protest joined by other teams advocating for social justice. 

The issue reached the forefront when a FOX reporter said Lebron James should just up and dribble after the NBA superstar criticized then President Donald Trump.

The dialogue will address specific questions and issues such as: 

Are these new realities appropriate expressions of solidarity for an athletic team or league? What impact can be expected? Are there undue pressures on athletes to conform to the new activism? How should league and team management participate or react?  

The Rose Bowl Institute, an arm of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, champions sportsmanship, leadership, and citizenship and aims to “leverage the power of sports to unite people everywhere.”

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