What We're Watching: Athletes as Activists
The struggle for justice and equality in the world of sports is nothing new. Professional athletes are singular representatives for the advancement and support of social change because of their unique position in culture; we see them as almost superhuman when they compete but because of factors like race, gender, or sexuality, they can be the victims of discrimination and bigotry like anyone else. By using their power and platforms, athletes can bring focus to larger issues and help change the narrative. Our recommendations this week focus on two of the greatest athletes of all time but there is so much more to their stories than just a game.
This Week's Recommendations for Younger Viewers: Venus VS.
Venus VS (2013), directed by Ava DuVernay
Recommended for Grades 5+
Available to stream on ESPN+
In 2013, ESPN created Nine for IX, a spinoff of its popular 30 for 30 documentary series, focusing on stories of women in sports and directed by female filmmakers. The premiere film, Venus VS. takes the audience through Venus Williams’s incredible tennis career and her impact as a leader on and off the court.
- What do you learn about the history of women’s tennis?
- What do you learn about Venus Williams as a person and an athlete?
- How did Venus Williams change the game of tennis early on in her career?
- What was the inequity between men’s and women’s tennis at Grand Slam titles like Wimbledon?
- How did Venus become a leader for equity in tennis? How did she change the “dynamic of the conversation”?
- What role do athletes play in the fight for justice and equality?
Battle of the Sexes (2017), directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton
Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer (2006), directed by Mary Carillo