“More than an Athlete”: Race, Sport, and Activism in Present Day America.

Thorns, Edward (2022) “More than an Athlete”: Race, Sport, and Activism in Present Day America. Masters thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The purpose of this dissertation is to uncover the vast infrastructure of athlete-activism that exists in contemporary society. The term infrastructure refers to the huge network of athlete-activists who are not necessarily united under one organization or structure, but nonetheless form an expansive framework of diverse, yet interconnected social justice activism. The broad scope of the thesis will look to shine a spotlight on actions that can often be overshadowed by more visible instances of political defiance.

The dissertation will begin by charting the history of athlete-activism to establish that athletes today represent a long tradition of athletic involvement in the Black Freedom Struggle. Included in this historical context will be the period of the late twentieth century, this era is frequently dismissed as witnessing a decline in athlete-activism but using the juxtaposing examples of Craig Hodges and Michael Jordan the thesis will present this as an important era in creating the conditions for contemporary athlete-activism.

The contemporary focus of the dissertation will take place in the period from the summer of 2016 up to the present day. This era has witnessed the emergence of a broad network of athlete-activism and the thesis will explore this network through four different strands of contemporary activism. Firstly, symbolic forms of activism that take place within the sporting arena. Secondly, the community-based grassroots activism of athletes. Following this, the case study of the 2020 election will show that athletes comprise a key group of voting rights activists in post-Shelby County America. Finally, the relationship between athletes and major corporations will show how athletes are navigating their corporate relationships to amplify their activism.

The ultimate aim of this dissertation is to consider the vast infrastructure of athlete-activism that exists today and in doing so amplify the role of athlete-activists in the Black Lives Matter moment. This will complete the argument that athletes form a powerful bloc of activists in present day America and are much more than an addendum or attachment to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Kitty Laine
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2023 15:36
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2023 15:36
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92266


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