From Jackie Robinson to Colin Kaepernick, the history of activism in sports


SF State is currently offering a course on the history of activism in sports, covering topics such as the impact of Jackie Robinson and current events such as the Colin Kaepernick controversy.

Tammy Forest and David Jaulus are leading the course. They strive to help students understand the impact athletes have on political and social issues.  

Jaulus, an SF State graduate with a master’s degree in political science and an avid sports fan, feels that sports are held in high regard and give athletes a unique platform to express their opinion. Sports have a rich history of athletes being the focus of social issues, like Muhammad Ali refusing to be drafted and protesting the Vietnam War.

“I hope we’re at the cutting edge of a revolution,” Jaulus said when talking about the amount of big name athletes such as LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and others speaking out and protesting issues they care about.

The recent “Just Do It” Nike campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick will be one of the first topics discussed in class. Jaulus wants the students to have an honest discussion about why the campaign is so polarizing and how the students personally feel.  

The course is part of the Experimental College program, where students teach other students on topics outside of the normal curriculum. Other courses can be seen at and include the magical world of Harry Potter’s Universe, modern language of memes and many more.

Forest and Jaulus don’t want to be considered teachers because the students dictate what is covered in class.  

“We had more input on the class,” said former student Justina Valdivia. The SF State graduate with a degree in latino/latina studies explained that the small class size allowed the students to have more of a say in what is taught in the class.

Most of the course is based around one project. Students will research the history of a specific athlete or topic, and then present their findings to the class at the end of the semester.

Experimental College courses are one unit, but Forest and Jaulus feel that the student gains much more than one credit’s worth towards graduation.

“We learned more than just sports,” former student Nic La Torre said. A political science major, La Torre said he learned things such as the political power structure and other aspects of history that helped put the activism in perspective.

Students can enroll for the class online at the student center. The course name is EXCO 301.42 and will take place in BUS 116 every Monday from 4-5:40 p.m. Those interested in the class can email David Jaulus at [email protected] or Tammy Forest at [email protected] for an add code. The deadline to add the class is Sept. 17.