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'Sport Matters' Podcast: Black Olympic Athletes Representing White America

Why this matters

The mental health and pressure of competing at the Olympics is high, but for athletes of color the burden can be even greater to represent an America that may not always love you back.

On the latest 'Sports Matters' episode of the Global Sport Matters Podcast, Global Sport Institute CEO Kenneth L. Shropshire and award-winning journalist William C. Rhoden discuss the dilemma of being a Black athlete like Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka or Gwen Berry at the Olympics, representing a country amidst waves of unrest and systemic racism. They ask the question: Do you raise the American flag in pride or do you raise your fist in protest?

Drawing on past protest moments at the Olympics as well as new conversations brought about by Simone Biles and others, the hosts thread connections from then to now between the image of America we believe we are and the fractured 'White America' the world sees.

'Sport Matters' episodes arrive once per month to the Global Sport Matters podcast. From academia to media, Ken and Bill discuss the edges of sport, unpacking race and culture beyond the game.

Find this and every episode of the Global Sport Matters podcast wherever you get audio content or all in one place here.

About the hosts:

Professor Kenneth L. Shropshire is CEO of the Global Sport Institute and the adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State University. He took on this current leadership role following a 30-year career as an endowed full professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

William C. Rhoden is a columnist and Editor-at-Large for The Undefeated, ESPN’s news site about sports, race, and culture. He is the curator of the Rhoden Fellows and is also the author of several books, including 40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. Before joining The Undefeated, Rhoden wrote an award-winning sports column for the New York Times and appeared as a guest on ESPN’s Sports Reporters for nearly 30 years. Rhoden began his journalism career as a news reporter at the Baltimore Afro American Newspaper. He was a senior editor with Ebony Magazine and then a columnist and jazz critic for the Baltimore Sun. Rhoden attended Morgan State University in Baltimore where he majored in English.