The Edwards Lecture on Sport and American Culture
The Texas Program in Sports and Media (TPSM) has created a second named lecture as a forum to address important issues of sport and society. The Dr. Harry Edwards Lecture on Sport and American Culture, presented by the McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society, is named after and supported by the noted sports sociologist and professor emeritus from the University of California, Berkeley. At the inaugural address, Edwards presented “Lessons from the Life and Calling of a Once Failed Student.”
TPSM partnered with the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in hosting a landmark conversation between NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, reflecting on their experiences in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Part of the LBJ Library's Civil Rights Summit, “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field – A Conversation with Bill Russell and Jim Brown” was a singular occasion for the sporting and cultural legends to reflect on the 50 years since President Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This conversation represented the initial iteration of the Dr. Harry Edwards Lecture on Sport and American Culture.
The Edwards Lecture joins the Frank Deford Lecture on Sports Journalism as a venue for esteemed professionals and accomplished academics to speak to the university community on pressing issues that lie at the intersection of sport and society. Deford presented the initial Deford Lecture in 2010. Since then, speakers have included journalists Sally Jenkins, David Maraniss, Jeremy Schaap and Neil Leifer. The McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society is the presenting sponsor of the Deford and Edwards Lectures.
About Harry Edwards:
Edwards is a highly sought-after speaker and advisor, who is a staff consultant with the San Francisco 49ers, having retired from UC, Berkeley in 2000.
Born in St. Louis, the trajectory of Edwards’ life changed when he became part of the first generation of black students to desegregate East St. Louis Senior High School after the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, ending “separate-but-equal” racial accommodations of public facilities. Moving to California in the 1960s to pursue an athletic career, Edwards went on to become a self-styled “scholar-activist,” revolutionizing academic and public discourse on the substance of sport and society.
According to journalist Robert Lipsyte, “No other single figure in sports has done as much to make the country aware that the problems of the larger culture are recapitulated in sports, that the arena is no sanctuary from drugs, racism and corruption.” Author of “Sociology of Sport” and “Revolt of the Black Athlete,” among other publications, Edwards counsels students and professional athletes alike to pursue “disciplined analysis, understanding, and application at the pitch of passion.”
Edwards was the architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which begot the black power salute by sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Edwards has consulted with the NFL, NBA and MLB on issues associated with minority representation among athletes, coaches, front office executive and ownership.
Join the community
TPSM is developing a local community of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students with an interest in sports, media and society. The emerging field is broad and deep, replete with questions and issues that require a diverse and interdisciplinary community of scholars to address in a meaningful manner.
TPSM posits that:
- Sport precipitates beneficial social change and economic development.
- Media stimulate human engagement and inter-connection.
Sports and media are two sides of a common coin, revealing (for better or worse) human nature, culture and community in a manner that no other aspect of society can touch. TPSM engages these issues at UT-Austin by supporting curriculum, research and programming within the related disciplines of the College of Communication: Advertising/Public Relations, Journalism, Radio-Television-Film and Communication Studies. TPSM also supports an interdisciplinary discourse across campus with departments and faculty that share an appreciation of stories from sports.
In addition to this website, TPSM maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter stream to stimulate and sustain this dialogue. If you would like information pushed out to you, please join our email group for the latest on curriculum, programming and research initiatives.