Sports and race discussed at Penn

April 28, 2017 GMT

Leading up to the 123rd Penn Relays Carnival, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Sports Business Initiative (WSBI) on Wednesday hosted a conversation on race, sports and activism.

“All people are not treated the same. At a very young age, I noticed something was wrong,” said Olympic bronze medalist and Arthur Ashe Award for Courage winner John Carlos before an audience in Penn’s Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall. ”I had a moral obligation to step up. Morality was a far greater force than the rules and regulations they had.”

Accepting his 1968 Olympics medal, wearing no shoes with a raised fist and bowed head, the unapologetic Carlos bluntly stated, “I’m trying to save people of color that are stressed out on a universal level. Racism is a disease and it has no one set location.”

The vibrant and engaging Carlos was joined by Camden’s Woodrow Wilson High School head football coach, Preston Brown; 1976 Olympics rowing bronze medalist and International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board member, Anita DeFrantz; and marketing maven and athlete rights advocate, Sonny Vaccaro.


DeFrantz, a former IOC vice-president and chair of the Women and Sport Commission, said, “Sport became a way of learning about and supporting cultures.”

Kenneth Shropshire — David W. Hauck professor of sports, business and law and director of the research and executive education focused “think tank” — has known DeFrantz and Carlos for more than 30 years. The trio worked with the XXIII Olympiad held in Los Angeles.

“It was a great, world-class panel,” said former Haverford College women’s tennis coach and athletic administrator, Ann Koger. “The event was filled with energy!”

Presented in partnership with Penn’s Center for Africana Studies, the Race & Sport panel is Shorpshire’s last. He is going to Arizona State University to design and lead a new international sports center. An author, attorney and consultant, Shropshire spent the past 30 years as a professor at Wharton and in Penn’s Department of Africana Studies.

“From podcasts and documentaries to hosting events globally, this presented an extraordinary opportunity to make the work going on in the academy more impactful by broadly disseminating it in journalistic form,” Shropshire said. “At this point in my career my focus is to make a difference with sport. I cannot wait to get underway.”