Advancing racial justice through college sports

February 22, 2021
Tobias Harris, left, dribbles a basketball in a 2011 game against the University of Kentucky.

Tobias Harris, shown here playing basketball for the University of Tennessee in 2011, recently spoke about addressing racial awareness at a Penn panel. Harris is now a forward for the Philadelphia 76ers | Tennessee Athletics/

College athletes at every level are finding their voice and demanding their colleges do more to promote social justice.

Earlier this month, Penn GSE’s Karen Weaver led a conversation on “Addressing Racial Awareness” with Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, David Gould, Chief Diversity and Impact Officer at HBSE, and Ken Shropshire, CEO, Global Sport Institute and adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport, Arizona State University.

Weaver wrote about some of the lessons colleges and athletes can learn for her latest column in Forbes.

One big takeaway: Athletic Directors can’t pretend the culture hasn’t shifted. 

“It’s time for college athletics to put their considerable wealth and purchasing power behind supporting black-owned businesses,” Weaver writes. “External companies with black owners, boards and senior leaders must be included in your purchasing strategy. Athletes should remind their athletic leaders to demonstrate their commitment to addressing systemic racial issues by doing business with minority-owned companies.

“We are long past forming committees and wearing supportive T-shirts. It’s time for athletic administrators and financial officers to realize the power they have to affect change on behalf of their athletes. Demonstrating you are serious about social change can go a long way towards improving the athlete experience, and by extension, athlete mental health coming out of this pandemic. Put your money where your heart is.”

Read Weaver’s full piece here.