ESPN Presents An Undefeated Conversation: Athletes, Responsibility and Violence

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ESPN Presents An Undefeated Conversation: Athletes, Responsibility and Violence

August 25 Town Hall in Chicago Featuring Panels on Race and Violence Hosted by Jemele Hill

ESPN will present An Undefeated Conversation: Athletes, Responsibility, and Violence – a discourse on athletes, guns, violence and law enforcement – on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The 90-minute program will be taped earlier that day during a town hall at the South Side YMCA of Metro Chicago from 3 – 5 p.m. ET (2 – 4 p.m. CT). Jemele Hill, co-host of ESPN2’s popular weekday sports discussion program His & Hers, will anchor the show on television and moderate the forum.

The event will include four distinctive panels featuring current and retired athletes, executives, coaches, sports commentators, community activists, a minister, a historian, and more. and ESPN The Magazine columnist Robert “Scoop” Jackson, a Chicago native, will narrate vignettes and taped openings for select segments in the program. An audience of invited guests from the community including local leaders will participate in the forum.

An Undefeated Conversation: Athletes, Responsibility, and Violence is the first in a recurring series of conversations, forums and debates that will be convened by ESPN’s “The Undefeated” to address topical issues at the confluence of sports and race.

“Sports are great bridge builders in our country, bringing together people who think differently and live differently,” said Kevin Merida, ESPN Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated. “Athletes, in greater numbers, have been saying they want to use their influence to drive social change. We hope this townhall will help push that conversation forward.”

Panelists scheduled to appear include: Chicago Bulls’ point guard Rajon Rondo; Basketball Hall-of-Famer and Chicago-native Isiah Thomas; retired NFL player and ESPN Sports Nation co-host Marcellus Wiley; Chicago White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams; ESPN commentator and Chicago native Michael Wilbon; Chicago-based Baptist pastor Jolinda Wade, the mother of NBA star Dwyane Wade; The Undefeated senior writers Lonnae O’Neal (Chicago native) and Clinton Yates; Stephanie Brown, Chicago mother who lost her son to gun violence; University of Illinois at Chicago history professor Elizabeth Todd-Breland; and former MLB player and ESPN analyst Doug Glanville. (More panelists will be announced later)

Panel topics include:

Racial Profiling, Athletes & Police: A look at interactions between professional athletes and law enforcement, including personal experiences with profiling.

  • Examples of athletes’ interactions with law enforcement and personal experiences with profiling.
  • How have these experiences shaped conversations athletes have with their children about law enforcement?

Sports & Activism: What responsibility or obligation do leagues, coaches, team officials, sponsors and agents have in supporting athletes who want to be more vocal on social issues?

  • A look at the support these entities – leagues, teams, et al – provide that would be meaningful to athletes.
  • How concerned are athletes that sponsorship opportunities will be impacted if they speak out?

Guns & Violence: An exploration of the relationship athletes have with guns.

  • Exploring reasons athletes carry guns.
  • What do athletes think about the debate surrounding second amendment rights in the United States?
  • How can outspoken athletes have an impact on the problem of gun violence among young African-American men?

A Call to Action: Athletes today have more power than at any time in sports history. Examples include the ousting of Donald Sterling (NBA Clippers) and protests at the University of Missouri.

  • How much should we expect from professional athletes on social issues?
  • How can these athletes collectively use their influence to create change?
  • Examples of effective activism by athletes.

ESPN2’s First Take will continue the conversation with a special edition from the South Side YMCA on Friday, August 26, focusing on city’s ongoing struggle with violence. The show will air live in its usual time slot from 10 a.m. – 12 noon ET (9 – 11 a.m. CT). Guests will include NBA Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

About The Undefeated:

The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub,, which launched in May 2016, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues. showcases four main verticals – Sports, Culture, The Uplift and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Its mantra: Not conventional, never boring.


Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties over the years. I am currently focused on soccer and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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