The policing of patriotism: African American athletes and the expression of dissent

Christopher D. Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


From the "Noble Experiment" of baseball player Jackie Robinson to the national anthem protests initiated by football player Colin Kaepernick, the manner in which African American athletes have responded to demands that they demonstrate their patriotism has been critiqued and regulated at every turn. This article seeks to chronicle that history, by exploring the experiences not only of Robinson and Kaepernick but all African Americans who, throughout the history of sport, have challenged preconceived notions and displays of patriotism. This includes boxer Muhammad Ali and sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, among several lesser-known figures. What is remarkable is the connective tissue, the degree to which the activism of athletes from Robinson to Kaepernick, and the reactions to it, has not fundamentally altered in seven decades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of sport history
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • Athletics/sports
  • Patriotism
  • Protest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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