‘Race in Sports’, the term-long course co-taught by Jim McDougal and Grayson Bryant, has given students the opportunity to discuss issues of race in today’s society. “Sometimes students are uncomfortable talking about race, but if you present them with racial issues in the context of sport, they are willing to talk about those issues and then can apply their newfound understanding to present day society,” McDougal explains.
The syllabus covers a variety of topics and sports in which issues surrounding race have arisen. Subject matters range from historic sporting events that took place during the Civil Rights Movement, such as Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier’s ‘Fight of the Century’, to an in depth discussion regarding the media’s representation of Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50. “Our working thesis is that sport often reflects society’s prevailing attitudes,” says co-teacher Grayson Bryant. “Our best classes transcend the classroom and provide the boys the opportunity to deeply consider issues of difference across a variety of different scenarios.”
“It is my hope that students take away a better understanding of who they are and to be aware of the different racial issues of the world in which they live,” McDougal says. “We try to look at issues through an historic approach to understand where we were and how we’ve gotten to where we are.” Bryant concurs, “At the end of the course, we hope that the boys understand that they have a role to play in the world’s future; sports provides us a common language to discuss tough issues—but it’s what we do with our newfound perspective that will help us to make a difference in society.”