EXPANDING THE FIELD: Sports & Politics Discussion Series

Sports & Politics Discussion Series

Organized by Brett Kashmere and Astria Suparak
Part of the Sports issue of INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media and A Non-Zero-Sum Game series.


  • Hanif Abdurraqib (columnist, MTV News; author, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us)​
  • Kevin Blackistone (national sports columnist, The Washington Post; panelist, ESPN’s “Around the Horn”; contributor, NPR)
  • Kavitha Davidson (columnist, espnW; contributor, ESPN The Magazine)
  • Samuel Hodge (Department of Human Sciences professor, Ohio State University; coeditor, Black Males and Intercollegiate Athletics)
  • Sarah Hotchkiss (artist; visual arts editor, KQED)
  • Ezekiel Kweku​ (politics editor, New York Magazine‘s Daily Intelligencer)
  • Ameer Loggins (scholar; contributor, The Athletic)
  • Carmen Winant (artist; writer)


This series of discussions on sports, culture, and politics features journalists, academics, and cultural producers deeply immersed in sports. Topics include recent athletic protests, the realities and repercussions for athletes (both on and off-field), concussions and health issues, gender and religion, labor and exploitation, the responsibilities of sports writers, and various local issues.

Prior to the discussions, an illustrated preview of INCITE Journal: Sports was presented by editors Astria Suparak and Brett Kashmere to help prime the discussion for different types of thinking about sports, politics, culture, and history. Discussions took place in the context of a related exhibition (for example, Power Forward at VisArts).

Discussions organized in collaboration with local curators including Jordan Stein (KADIST), David Filipi (Wexner), and Susan Main (VisArts).




  • “I often thought of my mere presence on these team, or my ability to perform well through this idea of being Othered, was a type of resistance or was a type of activism–it was acting in reaction to this preconceived notion of what I was or wasn’t capable of.” – Hanif Abdurraqib
  • “I really struggled in school and feared acutely that I didn’t have the kind of intelligence that I would need in life to drive forward. When I discovered running–and that I was good at it–the world shifted beneath my feet because I came to understand that there was more than one form of intelligence. Bodily intelligence had its own kind of vitality and significance. Over time, as I became an artist and an intellectual in my own way, I realized that that form of bodily intelligence, or what I came to think about as embodiment, could in fact be a subject of intellectual pursuit and a subject of creative pursuit.
    “I really had to learn first that my body could be powerful, my body could be thoughtful, my body could be curious. And that could all course through me as a part of, and separate to, my mind or intellectual capacities. The ideas of discipline and failure, and repetition, have come to be central to my thinking and work. All those things I learned through running.”I was never a person who enjoyed competition. I was really interested in the grind. For me, that was all about running mile after mile after mile, and attending practice three times a day. I became interested in (in terms of my body), my performance, my work, in how pleasure can be found through a certain degree of pain and resistance.” – Carmen Winant
  • “I think this entire slide kind of encompasses a disdain for labor that we have in this country in general. You’re talking about athletes being very heavily compensated, and we never think about how much the billionaires who are making twenty times over on [the players’] salaries are actually worth and how much they’re making, because they’re the deserving rich, right? They’re not just playing a game, they’re the ‘entrepreneurs.’
    “With college basketball and football players, they’re just lucky to get their scholarships, right? Never mind the fact that both of those sports combine for ten billion dollars in revenue every year. March Madness is, I think, a billion dollars, just in that month.”It’s really this idea that young, mostly black, men don’t deserve to be making millions of dollars, no matter what they’re doing, no matter how much of the product or service that they’re actually providing.

    “With concussions, that’s probably the grossest exploitation that we can think of. The NFL strategy over the years has always confounded me. My mother’s a scientist and I went back and I read so many of these scientific peer reviews that they did. And it literally was just literature reviews, none of it was research but it was presented as research. It’s been exactly the same shift and evolution of PR strategy over the decades that Philip Morris and Big Tobacco had. Exactly the same. And it’s no coincidence that the NFL employs Covington & Burling, which is the law firm that came up with that strategy for Philip Morris.” – Kavitha Davidson

  • “Beach volleyball in the Olympics got to Australia in 2000, on Bondi Beach, which happened to be next to a nude beach. Which was interesting because that’s when it was revealed (no pun intended) that women beach volleyball players were contracted to wear bikinis as uniforms. while men could where whatever they wanted to […] The ridiculous uniform policy didn’t get overturned until I think 2012 in London, under some very disingenuous explanation that the World Volleyball Federation had decided to relax uniform code for women out of deference to women coming from Muslim countries who had to sheathe their bodies. So they never even acknowledged the fact that they had objectified these bodies previously. But it comes down to control and those contracts.” – Kevin Blackistone
  • “How whiteness as concept becomes proxy to being American. Whereas my Americanness is hyphenated — I’m an African-American. White folks just get to be Americans. […]The Confederate Flag was fucked up. But slavery happened under an American flag, too. Prison-industrial complex happened under that, and Jim Crow, and hyper-ghettoization, and the police killing us right now. That’s happening under the flag you want me to wave and praise.” – Ameer Loggins
  • “When people say ‘I don’t want politics in sports,’ what they’re saying is, ‘I don’t want the politics I disagree with in sports.’ Politics is in the NFL: the valorization of the military, flyover of air force jets before games, when we sing the national anthem, especially in the NFL, they make it about the troops. All these things are political. It’s politics they don’t see because they agree with it.” – Ezekiel Kweku



CANADIAN ART MAGAZINE: “World Cup Meets White Cube,” Leah Sandals, July 4, 2018

WTOP: Noah Frank, “Sports, history, politics and art collide at new Rockville exhibition,” May 31, 2018