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Events & exhibitions
event • Conferences & Symposia

Game Changers: Sports, Gender, and Society

  • Friday, April 7, 2017
  • Knafel Center
    10 Garden Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
Who Gets to Play? panel at "Game Changers"
Photo by Kevin Grady

The degree to which sports—broadly defined—permeates societies and cultures has never been greater, making it a revealing lens through which to understand many contemporary issues. The Radcliffe Institute conference “Game Changers: Sports, Gender, and Society” will explore the relationship between sports and gender in the United States and around the world.

The conference begins on the evening of Thursday, April 6, with an arts performance and conversation about Toni Stone, whose unprecedented athletic career had an impact on the struggle for equality and social justice in Jim Crow America.

The program features a staged reading of scenes from the play Toni Stone by playwright Lydia R. Diamond RI ’13, based on the book Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League by historian Martha Ackmann RI ’09.

The program on Friday, April 7, consists of panel discussions with athletes, business leaders, coaches, physicians, policy makers, and scholars on the topics of access and inclusion, health and medical research, and media and popular culture. The day will feature a conversation with Laila Ali, the four-time undefeated super-middleweight boxing world champion, fitness and wellness expert, and author.


Event Videos

Performers from

Toni Stone | Panel Discussion


Martha Ackmann, journalist and author, The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight and Curveball

Lydia R. Diamond, playwright, Huntington Theatre Company/Broadway's Stick Fly and Smart People

Nambi E. Kelley, actor (role of Toni Stone)

Megan Sandberg-Zakian, director-in-residence, Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Moderated by Sean O’Donnell, associate director of Academic Ventures, Radcliffe Institute.

Who Gets to Play? panel at

Who Gets to Play?


Lizabeth Cohen, dean, Radcliffe Institute; Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Department of History, Harvard University


Donna A. Lopiano (15:22​), president, Sports Management Resources; former chief executive officer, Women’s Sports Foundation

Anita L. DeFrantz (29:58​), member, International Olympic Committee; former president, LA84 Foundation; 1976 Olympic bronze medalist (rowing)

Stephanie Wheeler (43:36​), head coach, women’s wheelchair basketball, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; 2004 and 2008 Paralympic gold medalist (women’s wheelchair basketball)

Moderated by Susan Ware (10:55​), general editor, American National Biography

Gender, Sports, and Health/Wellness speaker at

Gender, Sports, and Health/Wellness

Brian Hainline, senior vice president, Sports Science Institute; chief medical officer, National Collegiate Athletic Association; clinical professor of neurology, NYU School of Medicine and Indiana University School of Medicine

Travis T. Tygart, chief executive officer, US Anti-Doping Agency

Parissa Safai, associate professor, Faculty of Health, York University

Moderated by Cheri A. Blauwet, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital; 2004 Paralympic gold medalist (800m, track and field)

Laila Ali having a conversation at the

Conversation with Laila Ali


Laila Ali, four-time undefeated super-middleweight boxing world champion, fitness and wellness expert, and author

Christine Brennan, national sports columnist, USA Today; commentator, ABC News, CNN, PBS NewsHour, and NPR's Morning Edition; author

Introduction by Yukio Lippit, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Radcliffe Institute; professor of history of art and architecture, Harvard University

Speaker discussing Gender, Media, and Popular Culture at

Gender, Media, and Popular Culture

Michael Messner, professor of sociology and gender studies, University of Southern California

Rachael Miyung Joo, assistant professor of American studies, Middlebury College

Kavitha A. Davidson, writer, espnW; contributor, ESPN the Magazine and

Moderated by Mary Jo Kane, professor in the School of Kinesiology, Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, University of Minnesota

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