Sporting Publics

Sporting Publics: History, Sports, and American Culture

A symposium co-organized by the Humanities Research Institute and Professor Adrian Burgos, Department of History

March 28–29, 2024

This symposium aims to illuminate the ways sports at times facilitates public conversations on past and present societal conditions, whether it is how sports reveal broader issues about culture, identity, or history. The speakers will focus on several questions: How do sports provide a space for publicly engaging in “difficult” conversations about issues affecting U.S. society? In what ways have athletes sought to create such space to engage societal concerns as they impact lives on or away from fields of play? How has the work of historians engaged the public about the ways sports reveal/unveil such broader concerns?

Thursday, March 28

David Maraniss photo

Inside Scoop with David Maraniss

Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
Registration required

Undergraduates of any major are invited to this informal lunch talk with Pulitzer Prize-winner David Maraniss (New York Times bestselling author and associate editor at The Washington Post). Lunch provided! Hear about the author’s 2023 biography on Indigenous athlete Jim Thorpe, Path Lit by Lightning. Register in advance to secure your space.

“Lombardi, Clemente, and Thorpe: Illuminating American History Through Sports”

Opening Keynote & Book Signing with David Maraniss

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Alice Campbell Alumni Center
Free and open to the public.

Friday, March 29

Theresa Runstedtler photo

“‘Rich and Talented and Black and Troubled’: Black Professional Athletes and the Black Freedom Struggle”

Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
Free and open to the public.

Featuring Theresa Runstedtler (American Studies, American University), with Daniel Gilbert (Labor and Employment Relations/History) responding. Runstedtler’s presentation draws on her 2023 book Black Ball, exploring how African American basketball players challenged the status quo on the court and in US society.

Louis Moore

From Idea to Book

Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
Free and open to the public.

Featuring Louis Moore (History, Grand Valley State) with Daniel Nasset (Editor-in-Chief, University of Illinois Press). Moore will present on his book I Fight for a Living: Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915 and Nasset will share the editor’s perspective on working with Moore to turn his idea into a book that speaks to sporting publics.

Frank Guridy photo

“The Stadium as America's Public Square”

Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
Free and open to the public.

Featuring Frank Guridy (History, Columbia University), with Augustus Wood (Labor and Employment Relations) responding. Guridy will preview part of his forthcoming book The Stadium, which examines the intersections of activism, sport stadiums, and political change.

Shakeia Taylor

Shakeia Taylor in Conversation with Adrian Burgos

Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
Free and open to the public.

Featuring Shakeia Taylor, deputy senior content editor at the Chicago Tribune, host of the Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) interview series “Ballpark Figures,” and a member of the Negro Leagues and Teams Committee. With Adrian Burgos (History).

Reception & Book Signing

The Illini Union Bookstore will have books available for purchase in advance of the event. Free and open to the public.

Time: 4:00–5:00 p.m.
Location: Levis Faculty Center 300