Fourth annual conversation on business, race and sports to feature sports writer Claire Smith

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Business, the Langston Hughes Center and Kansas Athletics will present “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, in the Kansas Union Ballroom.

The fourth annual event will feature a keynote address from Claire Smith, an award-winning sports writer and ESPN news editor, as well as a panel discussion with KU All-American and former student-athlete Darnell Valentine and former KU basketball assistant coach Lafayette Norwood. This year’s event is presented in conjunction with the celebration of the 50th season of intercollegiate women’s athletics at KU.

Shawn Alexander, associate professor, graduate director of African & African-American studies and director of the Langston Hughes Center, said the world of sport allows for discussion about many issues, including corporate power, race, gender, homophobia, urban planning, health and labor.

“Sport, while occupying a central place in American culture and society, also has served as symbolic sites of protest, power, inclusion and discrimination for America’s racial minorities,” Alexander said. “For the past three years, KU has been at the forefront of this discussion with its annual symposium, and we look forward to continuing in a leadership role with this year’s spectacular event.”

Smith has been an influential voice among African-American writers and editors throughout her journalism career. She was the first woman to cover a Major League Baseball beat extensively and became one of the first national baseball columnists for a major publication. Smith has written for publications including The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer and currently serves as a coordinating news editor for ESPN. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the Baseball Writers Association of America’s prestigious J.G. Taylor Spink Award in 2016. 

Past events featured keynote addresses from sports sociologist Harry Edwards, The Nation’s sports editor and author Dave Zirin, and author and former New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden.

This year’s co-sponsors include the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Provost, Office of Multicultural Affairs, K Club, KU Alumni Association, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, School of Journalism & Mass Communications, the Sport Management program and the KU departments of African & African-American Studies; American Studies; and Health, Sport & Exercise Sciences.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to attend. Donations benefiting the Langston Hughes Center will be accepted.