Skin in the Game with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi will debut September 20, exclusively on ESPN+. The series delves into and challenges racism in the sports world, and will reveal how pervasive racism is in sports, while challenging the thoughts and systems of various governing bodies. Through Dr. Kendi’s analysis, athlete profiles, and robust roundtable discussions with athletes, academics and journalists, each episode dives deeply into the histories, statistics and notable moments behind the racist norms we accept today. Trailer: https://youtu.be/rcuNcovO-Ic.
The series is co-produced by ESPN+ Originals and Andscape, in association with Religion of Sports, and Dr Kendi’s Maroon Visions. The show features vignettes from notable names including W. Kamau Bell, Jemele Hill, The Kid Mero, Takeo Spikes, Nia Symone, Aida Rodriguez, Michelle Williams, and more. All five episodes of Skin in the Game will be available on Wednesday, September 20. The episode lineup includes:
Episode 1: Power to the Players
How Do Athletes Play a Role in Social Change?
Dr. Kendi takes a look at Black athletes who use public platforms to protest injustice and what it costs to speak up. Former Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill shares his choice to take a stand and Dr. Kendi is joined by Olympian Gwendolyn Berry and journalist Howard Bryant to discuss why athletes protest and its impact on their careers.
Episode 2: The Invisible Struggle
Are Black Women Athletes Carrying the Weight of the World?
Dr. Kendi questions why Black female athletes are considered too polarizing when they prioritize their mental health. Professional golfer Mariah Stackhouse opens up about being a Black woman on the LPGA tour and the impact it has had on her mental health. Dr. Kendi continues the conversation with Olympians Sanya Richards-Ross and Raven Saunders, psychologist Dr. Mariel Buqué and author Marita Golden, exploring why the expectation is for Black female athletes to be strong.
Episode 3: The Impossible Measure
What is the Cost of Race Norming?
Dr. Kendi explores race norming, the practice of adjusting aptitude scores based on race or ethnicity, and its use in professional sports. Neuropsychologist Dr. Charles Golden sits down with Dr. Kendi one-on-one to explain the concept and how it was used by the NFL, and former NFL defensive tackle Louis Leonard shares his first hand experience. Later, Dr. Kendi is joined by retired NFL players Michael Bennett and Ken Jenkins, and journalist Martenzie Johnson, to further discuss how the practice has unfairly impacted athletes.
Episode 4: America’s Pastime
Why is Latin American Culture Important to Baseball?
Dr. Kendi explores how Latino baseball players are bringing their cultures to America’s pastime while juggling the pressure to assimilate. Multiple Latino voices discuss their cultures and the game of baseball. Dr. Kendi is joined by former MLB player Eduardo Pérez, professor Adrian Burgos, Jr., and journalist Jesus Ortiz to further discuss Latino players and their experiences in the Major Leagues.
Episode 5: Out of Focus
What is the Impact of Racist Ideas in Sports Media?
Dr. Kendi discusses the lack of diversity in sports media and how it impacts the coverage of athletes of color. WNBA Champion Essence Carson shares her experience being on the receiving end of racist comments by shock jock Don Imus. Dr. Kendi is joined by ESPN contributor Scoop Jackson, sports editor Dave Zirin, and University of Oklahoma professor Dr. Cynthia Frisby to discuss how a lack of diversity in newsrooms can impact how stories are told.
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