This article would fit well in either a Civil Rights unit in U.S. history or in an Economics class.
The 3 lessons discussed each can be compared to the past.
Don’t be Tim Wolfe
- Starting off a civil rights unit with a four-corners activity or just a plain class discussion on how the students feel the state of racial equality is today is a good way to get a glimpse of where students are at. A lot of my students have a positive outlook and some even have a "post-racial" American view, but it's good to challenge their perspectives with quotes from the present like the one made by University President Tim Wolfe.
Athletes—so often scripted as powerless—have tremendous social power on campus.
- The image of this football team is the perfect example of the influence and power that sports has over American society. I could see this image complement one of John Carlos and Tommie Smith on the podium at the 1968 Olympics or of Muhammad Ali during the Vietnam War.
- The notion of athletes using their celebrity and fame to bring light to social issues has been a topic of controversy as of late. Some players are being scorned for their activism, wearing gray hoodies for Trayvon Martin or "I can't breath" shirts in support for Eric Garner, while others are being scrutinized for not doing enough with the power at their disposal. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently called out Jordan for choosing "commerce over conscious" in an NPR interview. For the audio of his interview click here.
- This sounds like a great Socratic seminar.
Don’t erase the mass struggle of students and faculty members that preceded the football strike.
- This last part of the article talks about the students who actually lead and organized the campaign against the President and the vital role they played BEFORE the football team got on board. This is a good comparison to Selma and how SNCC had been organizing the community for months before King got there. Also, generally speaking, it's a good reminder that though people like MLK, Lebron James and Cesar Chavez can use their influence to bring light to an issue, there are plenty of ordinary people who have put in the "leg-work" and will continue the fight long after their are done.
- In an Econ class I would look at lesson #2. This would be a great discussion piece. I would include excerpts from the Abdul- Jabbar NPR interview and look at any fines or penalties that athletes have received because of their activism. I could see a Socratic seminar that examines Jabbar's claims and have students determine whether they are legitimate or not. I would juxtapose those claims with charitable contributions that Jordan has made to his community. I would be happy to co-lesson plan with anyone interested in exploring this topic.
For the full article click here.