Texas Exes participate in panel on sports, media and race
Nov. 12, 2010
Andy Ortegon, Texas Media Relations
The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in cooperation with The Texas Program in Sports and Media and The University of Texas at Austin hosted the Arthur Miller Dialogues, a panel discussion on sports media and race on Thursday afternoon.
Moderated by Arthur Miller, a graduate of New York University and Harvard Law School and current teacher of law at Harvard University, the 12-person panel consisted of various professionals of different ethnicities, who through their education and careers had attained both success and insight in sports and media.
Among some of the noteworthy individuals were Otis Birdsong, a four-time NBA All-Star and the first guard to sign a million dollar contract; Ted Shaker, a 13-time Emmy winner and former executive producer of CBS Sports; and Jane Leavy, a former Washington Post reporter and New York Times bestselling author.
Two former UT letterwinners sat on the panel: Women's Basketball NCAA champion Fran Harris, and Julius Whittier, the first black football letterwinner.
Miller proved himself an expert in phrasing each thought-provoking question in an eccentrically brilliant way. After providing the audience of roughly 900 college students with a brief cliff-noted history of sports over the last 60 years, he posed his first question.
"Let's pretend that Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph and Arthur Ashe are all sitting around in heaven," Miller said. "If they were looking down at sports in 2010, what reaction would they have to how we know it vs. how they knew it?"
Harris chimed in with her refreshing wit and optimism.
"I think Wilma Rudolph would be looking down saying there was a time in basketball where we would wait until Easter Sunday to see that one women's basketball game," Harris said breaking the tension. "Now, there is a WNBA, an ABL, a women’s professional soccer league. I think we can lament and complain about quite a few things. But there are also some that we should take the time to applaud. I am thankful for both my time playing for The University of Texas and the WNBA."
Whittier contributed his expertise to the panel later in the discussion. On the topic of sports in America and its influence on black youths, he took time to highlight lessons he learned in his own experiences, including here at the Forty Acres.
"I can't offer any horror stories -- like Jackie Robinson's -- about coming here to The University of Texas with a scholarship in 1969," Whittier said. "I can't say that my career suffered from the way I was treated at The University both in the academic disciplines and in football. Rather I learned here, specifically, the importance of education. I think a major focus of restructuring for the black youth in America should be in the education process. Sports are important, but education is invaluable."