Race and Sports: Native Americans in Sport



Players are heroes whose opinions are seen and valued by their fans, especially young ones. League and team policies matter to the society at large as sports are highly visible, involve large populations, and have important symbolism. Fan behavior can also have impact on the larger populace.

“May the best team win.” Because teams have a common purpose to win, they need to strive for the best players regardless of race, ethnicity, background or sexual preference. It means inclusion of all as players, coaches, fans or owners. It means respecting the game, teammates and opponents. It means playing fairly and treating players equitably.

All of these factors warrant close attention to how sports, as a leading sector and by social justice in the United States, address race and racism. For these reasons, the Rose Bowl Institute continues to address how sports can lead in issues of racial equity, and how sports institutions can improve in areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Dialogues on Race and Sports are intended to provide audiences of all ages with new insights on race in America, and to inspire Americans to learn, grow and educate one another on the importance of these issues both in sports and in civic life.

The panel will be moderated by C. Richard King, Professor and Chair of Humanities, History and Social Sciences at Columbia College, Chicago.  The panel will discuss the racial politics of culture and will feature the following Native American athletes:

  •  Angel Goodrich, a former WNBA athlete who played for the Seattle Storm and Tulsa Shock, 
  • Jeremy Thompson, professional lacrosse player for the Panther City Lacrosse Club of the National Lacrosse League, and the Atlas of Premier Lacrosse League, and 
  • Jordan Nolan, former professional NHL athlete who competed for the Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, and St. Louis Blues.



Free to Public


Virtual Platform


May 31, 2022 @10AM PST

Dating back to the pre-Hispanic days of the Mesoamerican “Juego de Pelota” (Ball Game), sports have been an essential element of Native American cultures. They invented lacrosse and competed in canoeing, tobogganing, tugs of war, blanket toss, and other physical activities for sport, skill development, and spiritual purposes. While Jim Thorpe created an outsized reputation as the outstanding athlete of his day, Native Americans have competed at the highest levels of the sporting world.

Yet, despite this tradition, Native Americans have faced a number of issues with respect to participation in contemporary sports. These include:

  • The high cost of participation in club and travel youth teams, closing opportunities for Native Americans on and reservations.        
  • Discrimination inherent in the perception of “Indians” as mascots and beyond
  • Deficient facilities for Native American school sports

The Rose Bowl Institute will address these and other issues associated with the current plight of Native American participation in American sports as part of its streamed Dialogue on Race and Sports.