This Tuesday, January 24th, a collection of athletes, former athletes and members of the media will gather at the Hammer Theatre Center in downtown San Jose and speak on the influence that sport has in effecting social change. By organizing this event, SJSU will also be launching their Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, & Social Change. This event has been sold out via the event page for a while now. With many big sports names and insiders due to be in attendance, this town hall meeting should inspire many in the building to continue to take action towards a brighter and unified future.

Here are the panelists that will speak on this event’s behalf:


Ann Killion – Sports Columnist, SF Chronicle


Kevin Merida – Senior VP, ESPN / Editor-In-Chief, The Undefeated


Danielle Slaton – Analyst, Fox Sports


Tommie Smith – Former U.S. Track & Field Olympian


Marc Spears – Senior NBA Writer, ESPN / The Undefeated




I found this panel very insightful within a perspective that puts them close to the action but nowhere near being in the shoes of the athletes that they cover. Their views were still of the outsiders that can only watch, only with a stronger interest and passion because it’s only what they do for a living. Below are a couple of clips that I thought were significant to the town hall meeting.

Danielle Slaton talked about her role as a journalist and credited source of the media.

She told a story about a time when she asked two young girls if they knew who Colin Kaepernick was.

They replied, “yea we see him on tv all the time.”

There was no correlation with why he was on TV to the young girls. Simply that he was there, and many loved what he was doing, but also many hated what he was doing.

Slaton explained that in the midst of everything going on in the world,  all of the social injustices, it is up to her and many members of the media like her, to bridge the significant gap that lies between professional athletes and the young audience whom admire their talents and gifts. There needs to be an understanding of what actions can do for people, given the platform is there for the world to see.

Marc Spears & Ann Killion both made solid points about being able to cover the controversies that surrounds professional athletes everyday.

Marc Spears mentions the platform that social media has provided for such a cause. Through social media, the awareness can increase and become greater everyday.

Whether you like it or not, there’s a conversation that’s started and it’s out there, and hopefully it’ll make people think and change.” – Marc Spears on social media’s role in social change

Ann Killion then responds to the question of challenges and opportunities that connect the individual stories with the bigger picture of social change.

“The reason why I got into sports writing was not to write about scores and statistics, but to tell these stories. It’s an interesting time to be covering sports and Colin Kaepernick.” – Ann Killion 

From Protests to Progress: Next Steps

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar – Retired NBA Championship Center

Anquan Boldin – NFL Wide Receiver, Former San Francisco 49er


Jim Brown – Retired NFL Fullback


Takeo Spikes – Former NFL Linebacker & San Francisco 49er


Chris Webber – Retired NBA Player

T-Mobile Magenta Carpet At The NBA All-Star Game - Arrivals



This panel was exceptional as all in attendance were able to hear from Legends, Jim Brown & Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. They recalled stories from their past being in those situations of social injustice taking place in professional sports.

We listened to Anquan talk about the sport of football and its physical demands put on younger athletes who want to reach the professional level. We listened to Chris Webber make strong points about the NCAA and how college athletes should be compensated.

Yea, it was a true “you had to be there” moment. With all the great names blessing us with knowledge, there is no describing the moments that call for greater action than ever.

Jim Brown seems to have it all figured out. He makes a good point about athletes being paid millions that can be used for a good cause. Individually trying to make change can be difficult and damn near impossible. Collectively is a whole different gameplan that can be taken advantage of for change.

“Read up on the history of this country. Read up on the heroes that have passed and broken down barriers so that we can be successful.” – Jim Brown

Kareem continues from Jim Brown’s segment and really emphasizes unity both as a group and as a financial stable that becomes sharing the wealth with everyone in the community.

“If athletes of color come together economically to do something meaningful, it opens doors up for everybody in their communities can take advantage of.”         – Kareem Abdul-Jabaar

Tommie Smith explains his vision on how these modern day problems can be solved. He gets very philosophical with his concepts and hopefully everybody in the panel knows what he’s trying to get at.

” There’s power in numbers, but those numbers would be categorized by the education of how they got the money to be famous, or infamous in my case…”   – Tommie Smith


With all of these vocal athletes in the building, it would only be right that Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors make an appearance and speak on the occasion.

RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality) was also in attendance and donated Draymond’s “Sideline Racism” Nike shoes to San Jose State University.



This was truly a compelling presentation to watch. Moderator for the athlete panel, Harry Edwards pens a letter to his longtime friend and former 49ers Head Coach, Bill Walsh. He explains Walsh was ahead of his time seeing the best in collective team efforts and disregarding individual identities.

It was a true blessing to be in attendance for this event. These clips may not offer much who were expecting more, but I hope it offers insight that we all can make a change together despite the differences that separate us as individuals.

Written by : DEE Mobby