As the end of the school year approaches, it’s time to start wrapping up my senior project and to bring everything to a close. Because my ultimate goal was to examine the impact athletics have had upon race relations in the past century, I want to take a summary of my research and divide it into three parts: the past, present, and future. In the coming days and weeks, I plan on writing posts on each of these topics in order to summarize my yearlong findings and provide a final analysis of the various aspects of my senior project.
The Past-Part 1: This post will take a look at some of the most influential athletic figures from the past century, including both players and coaches. Examples include Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Althea Gibson, and more. I’ll look at the atmosphere of that athlete’s particular sport before they played and after, as well as the various challenges they faced while integrating that sport. I also want to examine why and how they made an impact and whether or not it was their ultimate mission or goal to bring about change in sports and society.
The Past- Part 2: This post will examine the various games, matches, and events that had the greatest impact upon race relations in both sports and society, including Sam Cunningham’s college football performance against Alabama, Kentucky’s defeat at the hands of Texas Western in the NCAA basketball championship, Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ Olympic protest, and Al Campanis’ derogatory comments on live television. I will analyze the intent of participants during their involvement in these events, as well as the overall impact and lasting effects that each had upon racial equality in America.
The Present: I’ve already written one post that examines this topic, so it may be a bit repetitive, but once again I will take a look at the current race issues that exist in sports. I want to examine where the root of these problems originated and how they stemmed from past prejudice and discrimination in sports- for example, the lack of coaching diversity can be attributed to previously held beliefs that African Americans were not as smart as their white counterparts.
The Future: In this post, I will draw upon all of my research to determine the future of race problems in sports and what I feel needs to be done in order to overcome these issues. While overall ignorance and racism may never be truly conquered, I think various measures may be taken, as well as mindsets adopted, that can allow sports to become a truly equal place in which all people have the same opportunities to perform to the best of their abilities, regardless of skin color.