St. Olaf students ask Page, Boyer and MacMullan about the role of protest in sports

Edmund Santurri, Alan Page, Jackie MacMullan, Nate Boyer
St. Olaf professor Edmund Santurri, former justice and former NFL player Alan Page, sports analyst Jackie MacMullan, former NFL and US Army Green Beret Nate Boyer at an Institute for Freedom and Community panel discussion titled, "A Dialogue on Sport, Protest, and the NFL National Anthem Debate" at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., on Jan. 23, 2018.
William Cipos | St. Olaf College

The second of a two-part program on the role of protest in sports. The St. Olaf College Institute for Freedom and Community hosted a dialogue about this, featuring NFL Hall of Famer and retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice Alan Page, former US Army Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks player Nate Boyer, and ESPN sports analyst Jackie MacMullan. Listen to part one.

This hour, St. Olaf students question the panelists and engage in dialogue. They asked about the impact of protest, whether NFL protests are intended merely to disrupt America's "favorite sport," the politics of sports, the race of athletes who are doing — or not doing — the protesting, the role of music or artists in promoting social justice, the history of athlete-activism, and much more.

Alan Page said "protesting is one tool, but it's certainly not the only tool that can be used to get at the heart of moving us toward justice."

"In the grand scheme of the tools available," Page continued, "kneeling is a relatively (and I don't say this to denigrate what they do) minor one. Getting people to the polls to vote %mdash; that's a big tool. That's like a sledge hammer. You have to use all the tools available. The protest tool can't be the only one."

Nate Boyer said it's important to actually DO something. "I like activism more than protest." He urged greater listening and understanding.

Jackie MacMullan said many people consider sports to be a "toy store," but she believes that "sports is a wonderful place to make social change." She pointed to Bill Russell, Arthur Ashe, and Jesse Owens, among others.

The event was held at St. Olaf College January 23, 2018 and was moderated by religion and philosophy professor Edmund Santurri, the director of the Institute for Freedom and Community.

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