Public forum: Athletes as Activists

Hosted by UT Austin Sociology Professor Ben Carrington, the Politics and Potential of Sport Workshop presents a public forum with an international panel of athletes, discussing the state of activism among their peers. American basketball player Etan Thomas, Canadian soccer player Shireen Ahmed and British footballer Michael Johnson will recount their personal experiences as athletes expressing their conscience on both sports-related topics and broader cultural issues. Keme Nzerem, a correspondent for the BBC’s Channel 4 News, will moderate. The panel discussion will take place at 11 am on Friday, March 11, in the Glickman Conference Center (CLA 1.302B) on the UT-Austin campus.

s16 athletesasactivistsBorn in Harlem, New York and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Etan Thomas played 11 years in the NBA, retiring in 2011. In 2005, Thomas released his first book, a collection of poems called More Than An Athlete (Haymarket Books). In 2012, Thomas released, Fatherhood: Rising To The Ultimate Challenge (Penguin), as a national conversation about fatherhood ensued. In 2013 Thomas published Voices Of The Future (Penguin), a collection of poems and essays from young writers from around the country on topics such as racism, Trayvon Martin, President Obama, gun violence, and AIDS. Thomas utilizes poetry as an expressive form and encourages young people to read, write and develop the skills to express themselves. Thomas co-hosts a weekly Washington D.C. area show on WPFW 89.3FM, The Collision, where sports and politics collide. His website is and is Twitter handle is @etanthomas36.

Shireen Ahmed is a writer, public speaker and sports activist, focusing on Muslim women in sport. She is an athlete, advocate, community organizer, and works with Youth of Colour on empowerment projects and is an avid sports coach and mentor. Based in Toronto, she is a regular contributor to Muslimah Media Watch, a Global Sports Correspondent for Safe World For Women and works on the Muslim Women in Sports website. Ahmed’s work has been featured and discussed in Sports Illustrated, Racialicious, Policy Mic, The Globe and Mail, Jezebel, VICE Sports, Islamic Monthly, Soccer Politics/ The Politics of Football, A Football Report, Huffington Post, Football Beyond Borders, International Museum of Women, Muslim Voices, Women Talk Sports, espnW and Edge of Sports Radio. Her blog “Tales from a Hijabi Footballer”, chronicles her passion for sport, politics and women’s issues collide. Her Twitter is @_shireenahmed_.

Michael Johnson enjoyed a 17-year career in English professional football, playing centre-half for Notts County, Birmingham City and Derby County. He was also a member of the Jamaican national team. Since his retirement from playing the sport, Johnson has been at the forefront of the institutional and cultural debates regarding racial inclusion among British soccer coaches and team administrators. In 2013 he served as manager for Notts County’s youth team, in addition to a three-game stint as Notts County interim manager. He is currently a fully credentialed manager, serving as assistant coach to Cardiff City’s Under-21 team. Off the pitch, Johnson works with Kick It Out, an initiative of the Professional Football Association to promote diversity and inclusion in sport. Johnson’s Twitter handle is @jonsarno.

The Texas Program in Sports and Media is an organizer and co-sponsor of the Politics and Potential of Sport Workshop. Other sponsors include the Center for European Studies, the Division for Diversity and Community Engagement, the Center for Women and Gender Studies, Department of Sociology, John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies, Moore Development and Fare Network.

The public forum is free and open to the public.

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