Metaphorically ‘Taking a Knee’: Pausing, Reflecting, Acting

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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Many of us want to engage in public application of our academic work, to not just understand the world, but to take part in addressing issues we investigate. Perhaps the metaphor of ‘taking a knee’ can be useful as we consider for ourselves, individually and collectively, how to do this work. Specifically, this paper considers the metaphorical meanings of ‘taking a knee’ to pause, reflect and consider ways to engage. The work of Ibram Kendi suggests that we look to how the economic, political and cultural self interest of powerful groups of people shape public life—including laws, policies and social norms to further their own self interests. In particular, this work considers the issue of the social construction of race in protests at sporting events during the national anthem and public responses to those events, finding as Kendi would predict, both progress toward racial equality and the advancement and evolution of racist ideas. Lastly, this investigation extends Kendi’s work by examining Title IX and athlete sexual assault, through firm scholarly research, as an example of both progress toward equality and also re-entrenchment of sexism and sexist ideologies, at the same time, by following the trail of self-interest.

Walton-Fisette is with the Sport Administration program, Kent State University, Kent, OH.

Address author correspondence to Theresa Walton-Fisette at twalton1@kent.edu.

An earlier version of this article was delivered as the 2017 NASSS Presidential Address in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on November 3, 2017.

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