Apr. 11, 2018 – On Tuesday, March 27th, Dr. Amy Bass and Howard Bryant visited Newbury to lead a discussion on Race and Sports in Society as part of the President’s Speaker Series. Dr. Brendan O’Malley, Assistant Professor of History, moderated the event.
Howard Bryant and Dr. Amy Bass
The event began with Bass and Bryant discussing and reading excerpts from their new books. Dr. Bass’ new book, One Goal: A Coach, A Team and the Game that brought a Divided Town Together, tells the story of Somali refugees in Lewiston, Maine who played the first-ever state championship-winning season for the high school soccer team.
“It felt like a relevant story; it felt like an important story,” said Bass, when talking about her process of writing the book. “It’s an American story. It’s a story that I really hope helps us remember, helps us learn, helps us teach who we are and what we can be and what we’re supposed to be.”
Bryant’s book, The Heritage: Black Athletes, A Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, is due out on May 8th and explores the history of political activism by black athletes up to the present, examining figures like Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and others.
Bryant explained his book discusses the “return of the black athlete being political…[and] colliding with the post-9/11 world that we’re in where when you go to a sporting event and you expect to see cops, military, American flags, all these different political statements. So, there’s a battle going on in a place where you’re supposed to go to get away from your problems…where you thought you didn’t have to think about politics.”
Dr. O’Malley began the discussion by asking, “Why does this issue of race and sports matter when there are so many other important issues that intersect with race?”
“The biggest reason is the popularity,” said Bryant. “To me sports is this area where you’ve got so much taking place in terms of revenues. The money and visibility is so overwhelming that it can’t help but be important.”
Bass agreed, “You have this massive public audience for all of these uneven moments.”
Other discussion topics included political moments in the Olympics, Boston sports culture and history, racial integration in sports and society, the limitations of sports on racial progress, college athletics, societal views on professional athletes, and the potential renaming of Yawkey Way, the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, etc.
Students and faculty greatly appreciated Dr. Bass and Howard Bryant coming to speak with the Newbury Community on the important topic of Race and Sports in Society, as evidenced by the lively questions and answer session.
Dr. Bass is a professor of history at the College of New Rochelle and published author on cultural history of sports. She also worked as the supervisor of NBC’s Research Room for eight Olympics since 1996. Her work with the London Olympics in 2012 earned her an Emmy Award. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Bates College and both her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University.
Bryant is a writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com as well as sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He has worked with ESPN since 2007, has been involved with NPR since 2006 and has published a variety of books on baseball. In addition to his acclaimed books, Bryant’s journalism has won many awards, including his coverage of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series—where the Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees, 3-2—which won him the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) award for best game story. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University and his Master’s Degree from San Francisco State University.
About Newbury: Newbury College is a private, independent college located just minutes from Boston in the Fisher Hill neighborhood of Brookline, Massachusetts. Founded in 1962, Newbury College offers bachelor and associate degree programs in over 20 career-focused majors. Committed to personalized and experience-based teaching, Newbury inspires students to become independent thinkers, valuable collaborators, and global-minded citizens.
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