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Patriotism, Politics and the Playing Field

November 13, 2018
Mountainlair Ballrooms
7:30 p.m.

National sports journalists, commentators and athletes will discuss the intersection of sports, race and media during a time of intense political division and partisanship. A variety of timely issues will be addressed, including the recent decision by the NFL to ban players from kneeling during the national anthem.  Sports is not just a national pastime, it's also a reflection of our cultural values, norms and society.  How should the media respond to current issues that go beyond game coverage and bring to light deep divisions and unresolved tensions within our larger society?


This panel discussion presented by WVU Reed College of Media is co-sponsored by the Ogden Newspapers Seminar Series.


This event will be webcast for those unable to attend in person.


Book signing by Etan Thomas to follow.


Nancy Armour is a columnist for USA TODAY Sports. The award-winning journalist moved to USA TODAY in January 2014 after more than 20 years with The Associated Press. She has covered almost every major sporting event, including every Olympics since 1996, five World Cups and the end to the Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought. In addition to her long-term, in-depth pieces, she writes columns that provide analysis of the big games and events of national interest.

At the Associated Press, Armour served as an AP sports writer based in Chicago before ultimately being named a “national sports writer” for the wire service, one of just a handful writers in the country given the title.  She has won number awards for her feature articles, stories and body of work, including the 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award by the United States Sports Academy.

A Milwaukee native, Armour graduated from Marquette in 1991 with degrees in journalism and political science.


Kevin Blackistone is a national sports columnist at The Washington Post, a panelist on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” a contributor to National Public Radio and co-author of A Gift for Ron: Friendship and Sacrifice On and Off the Gridiron, a memoir by former NFL star Everson Walls published in November 2009 that details his kidney donation to one-time teammate Ron Springs.

Blackistone was a sports columnist for AOL Fanhouse from October 2007 to March 2011 and an award-winning sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News for 16 years, where he covered the Summer Olympics, Super Bowl, Wimbledon, the World Cup, the Tour de France, the British Open, the NBA Finals, Final Four, College Football Playoff National Championship, NFL playoffs, Major League Baseball playoffs, world championship boxing matches and other sporting events.

For three years in the late ’90s, he also wrote the sports column at Emerge, a monthly review of politics and culture that Time magazine hailed as an “uncompromising voice that made [it] the nation’s best black news magazine.”

Blackistone is a recipient of numerous awards, including awards for sports column writing from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, for investigative reporting from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and for enterprise reporting from the National Association of Black Journalists.  He is currently a Professor of the Practice at University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism.


Kimberley A. Martin capped a whirlwind year by recently joining Yahoo Sports as a Senior NFL Reporter. Before choosing to return to the New York area, Martin worked for The Washington Post as the paper’s lead Redskins’ beat writer. Prior to that, she was a sports columnist at The Buffalo News, focusing on the Bills and the NFL. 

Before her career path took her to multiple cities in the span of 12 months, Martin spent a decade at Newsday, where she worked her way up from covering high school sports and general assignment reporting focused on Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA. She spent her final six years at the newspaper as the sports section’s sole beat writer covering the New York Jets. 

Martin won several awards while at Newsday, including a first-place finish for project writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) as part of a team that examined the difficulties former NFL athletes face in transitioning to life after football. Martin also was named the Emerging Journalist of the Year in 2011 by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).


Keith Reed is a contributing editor for 100 Days in Appalachia, a digital publishing enterprise focused on reframing the narrative of the Appalachia region. He has been a journalist for 17 years, having served as a senior editor at ESPN the Magazine, a staff writer at The Boston Globe, and a contributing writer for Vibe, Essence, Ebony, and numerous other publications. He has also lent commentary on the economy, culture and sports to CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR and many other outlets. A past board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, he was selected for three terms, including two as the organization’s national treasurer.


Etan Thomas spent 11 years as a professional basketball player for the NBA, but he’s far more than an athlete.  He is a prolific writer, poet, activist, leader and mentor.  

Born in Harlem, New York and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Thomas’ childhood was surrounded by books on the civil rights movement, politics and the 1960s. His latest book, We Matter: Athletes and Activism, was released March 6, 2018, and is a collection of interviews with athletes, activists, media personalities, scholars, and the family of victims of police brutality.

In 2005, Thomas released his first book, a collection of poems called More Than an Athlete (Haymarket Books).  In 2012, Thomas released his second book, Fatherhood: Rising to The Ultimate Challenge (Penguin), leading to a national conversation about fatherhood and the birth of the Fatherhood Movement. In January 2013, he released Voices of The Future (Penguin), a collection of poems and essays from young writers from around the country on topics such as racism, Trayvon Martin, President Obama, gun violence, and AIDS.

Thomas was honored for social justice advocacy as the recipient of the 2010 National Basketball Players Association Community Contribution Award, as well as the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation, Inc. Legacy Award. His writings have appeared in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN, ESPN, Hoopshype.com and Slam Online, and he frequently can be seen on MSNBC as a special correspondent for “hot topics.”






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