Disparity in collegiate sports has been around since, well, the beginning of collegiate sports. Tonight at 6pm at the Clinton School, Brad Austin discusses “Democratic Sports: Men’s and Women’s College Athletics during the Great Depression.”
Austin is a professor of history at Salem State University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in modern American history, sports history, and history education, and has served as the chairperson of the American Historical Association’s Teaching Prize Committee.
In his new book “Democratic Sports: Men’s and Women’s College Athletics during the Great Depression,” Austin explores the funding cuts that America public universities suffered while they were also responsible for educating an increasing number of students. University leaders used their athletic programs to combat the crisis of mounting financial troubles, coupled with a perceived increase in the number of “radical” student activists, and to preserve “traditional” American values and institutions, prescribing different models for men and women.
In the book, Austin discusses the stark contrast of educators emphasizing the individualistic, competitive nature of men’s athletics in order to reinforce the existing American political and economic systems, while the prevailing model of women’s college athletics taught a communal form of democracy, denying women individual attention and high-level competition. “Democratic Sports” tells the important story of how men’s and women’s college athletic programs survived, and even thrived, during the most challenging decade of the twentieth century.