Ballers of the New School—Professor Thabiti Lewis

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! At the University of Kansas, athletic culture certainly influences the student body a great deal. Considering the very successful basketball team and other sports programs, students at KU have the unique opportunity to be firsthand spectators and critics of the Big 12 Conference and other Division I programs. In other words, the students can personally analyze the politics of sports culture and bear witness to the opportunities and challenges or the current system.

In an effort to engage the student body and consider the connections between sports, race, media, and politics, the HBW was the lead sponsor of “Can Michael Vick Be Forgiven? Race, Gender and Mythologies in American Sports Culture.” On October 24, 2011, Professor Thabiti Lewis gave a lecture that emphasized the active role the media plays in shaping the impressions of sports culture and, sometimes, creating misleading narratives surrounding black figures in particular.

His lecture actually serves as an extension of his book—Ballers of the New School: Race and Sports in America. Lewis’s study calls for a greater awareness of the implicit racial contract between sports journalists, spectators, and athletes to understand how, often times, the media uses subtle (and, sometimes, not so subtle) negative racial tropes to characterizes fallen black athletes.

The links to the three videos below offer a brief recap of the public event.

Ballers of the New School featuring Prof. Thabiti Lewis
Ballers of the New School featuring Prof. Thabiti Lewis (Video 2)
Ballers of the New School featuring Prof. Thabiti Lewis (Video 3)
Video Design Credit: Brandon Hill—University Kansas Student of Film and Media Studies

[Related: A 2011 Recap of Public Events]

**The event was also sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity, Kansas Athletics, the School of Journalism, KU Libraries, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and its Departments of English, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.