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On Tuesday, March 23, Axios hosted a Hard Truths virtual event on systemic racism in sports. Axios Sports Editor Kendall Baker and Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo led one-on-one conversations with ABC/ESPN analyst Jalen Rose and Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson.

Jalen Rose discussed the intersections of race and power within sports, from athletes with fans to owners and coaches with players. He also highlighted the educational work done with his school, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

  • On the power of "fearless" youth athletes today, and the power of having control over the narrative: “[Muhammed Ali] would have been the first billion-dollar athlete. So with money comes power. It gives you an opportunity for ownership, it gives you a chance to control your narrative. That’s what players today have, along with social media.”
  • On the impact of systemic racism in sports off the field: "It doesn't start coaching. It starts with ownership...You talked about the seven [Black] coaches in the NBA. There aren't seven Black owners in both [the NBA and the NFL] combined."

Justin Jackson discussed racial inequity in sports after 2020, a year of where leagues, teams, and athletes took public stances on social justice and police brutality.

  • On the Los Angeles Chargers' decision not to play a scrimmage in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020: "We all love playing [football]. People love watching. But in that moment in time, we wanted to use that platform to illuminate the issues that we face outside of sports."
  • Why sports stars and athletes are uniquely positioned to discuss social justice issues: "We have a diverse group of people that follow us and listen to us. Getting those people to know and understand where we come from and our background and the things that we experience I think is so powerful because then they have that relatability, even if they haven't experienced it themselves."

Axios Senior Vice President Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top Segment with LeagueApps president Jeremy Goldberg, who focused on how systemic racism impacts sports in youth leagues, and the need for lasting solutions around equity.

  • "If playing sports can create so many advantages and benefits in life when a large number of kids don't get those benefits, it's not just an inequity, it's a form of advantage. It's a form of privilege, a sports privilege...We need to work hard to make sure that other kids and communities have the same benefits as we do. That's ultimately how we all win."

Thank you LeagueApps for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Mar 24, 2021 - Sports

Survey: Sports fans increasingly prefer highlights over live games

Reproduced from Maru Group for Variety Intelligence Platform; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new era of sports fandom is upon us, one in which fans increasingly come for snacks (highlights) instead of meals (live games).

By the numbers: Among U.S. sports fans ages 18–34, 58% of MLB fans, 54% of NBA fans and 48% of NFL fans say they prefer watching highlights to full games, according to a survey by Variety Intelligence Platform.

Mar 24, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Florida trans community speaks out against youth sports bill

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Absolute fear — that's what Faith Muller, the founder of LGBTQ support organization PFLAG Riverview, sees on the faces of families and kids in the LGBTQ community when laws like House Bill 1475 are proposed, she told Axios.

The latest: The bill, which would ban transgender girls from participating in youth sports starting July 1, just passed through its education subcommittee and is headed to the floor for a vote.

In photos: Students evacuated as wildfire burns historic Cape Town buildings

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A massive wildfire spread from the foothills of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town Sunday, burning historic South African buildings and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 students, per Times Live.

The big picture: Visitors to the Table Mountain National Park and other nearby attractions were also evacuated and several roads including a major highway, were closed. South Africa's oldest working windmill and the university's Jagger Library, which houses SA antiquities, are among the buildings damaged.