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Sports and Politics from Coubertin to Kaepernick

Subject code


Course Number



Course Long Title

Sports and Politics from Coubertin to Kaepernick


“It’s just a game.” Countless sports fans mutter this mantra to calm themselves in the heat of a contested sporting event. But it isn’t just a game. From the birth of the modern Olympic movement to #BlackLivesMatter protests at various sporting venues, even a cursory survey of American—and indeed global—history shows the challenge of separating politics and sports. This seminar explores how sports shaped domestic and international politics throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students investigate how sports celebrities became intrinsically linked with the civil rights movement in the United States, the Middle East conflict, anti-Soviet resistance, and the recent movement against anti-BIPOC police violence. In addition to an in-depth survey of the key issues and debates surrounding sports and politics, students are encouraged to explore their topics of interest in further detail.

Modes of Inquiry

Historical and Social Inquiry [HS], Analysis and Critique [AC]

Writing Credit


Class Restriction

Exclude First Years

Offering Frequency

One-time offering

Recommended Background

Any 100-level or 200-level course in politics or sociology. PLTC 218 Statistics for Political Analysis (or equivalent in other discipline) will be useful but not required to enroll in the course.