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Penn State Roundtable on Sports and Society

Cross-Campus Collaboration from Multiple Disciplines

Penn State features a broad array of teachers, researchers, and practitioners whose professional work involves sports. We recognize that much of our work is informed by insights from other disciplines. To enhance insights for scholarship, teaching, and practice, we share information and research, organize programs featuring speakers on topics of mutual interest, and collaborate to enhance the educational experience for students.  

In addition to coordinating efforts of individual faculty, the roundtable also serves as a means of collaboration between current and future organized sports studies programs in various colleges. Currently, these consist of:


A major roundtable initiative for 2014-15 is a yearlong speaker series with the theme of "The Role of Sports in Social Transformation." The questions we hope to address include: 

  • What are the causal or symbiotic relationships between social changes in sport and in society?
  • What role do media play? 
  • Do transformative events happen in spite of commercial opportunities, or do they enhance them?
  • How do sports contribute to an ethical society?
  • How is law used as a strategy to achieve or frustrate advocates of change?

Prior speakers include former Oakland Athletics President Roy Eisenhardt, who addressed the role of sports clubs in urban preservation and renewal; Oneida Nation Chief Ray Halbritter, who discussed the use of challenges to racially offensive team nicknames to affect social attitudes toward minorities; award-winning author and journalist Michael Weinreb, who discussed his book Season of Saturdays; and Towson University sports historian David Zang, who delivered a talk on his book chapter entitled “American Brigadoon: Joe Paterno's Happy Valley.”​


The mental aspects of achieving excellence 
In April, Penn State Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer spoke to interested law students about the parallels between law students and college football players and careers in the legal and coaching professions. Like most college football players, in order to excel, law students need (1) a positive attitude; (2) a strong work ethic; (3) sacrifice. A video of this dynamic talk is linked here



Faculty/Staff Works

John Cheslock (and David Knight), Diverging Revenues, Cascading Expenditures, and Ensuing Subsidies: The Unbalanced and Growing Financial Strain of Intercollegiate Athletics on Universities and their Students

Stephen F. Ross (and Matthew J. Mitten), A Regulatory Solution to Better Promote the Educational Values and Economic Sustainability of Intercollegiate Athletics

Dunja Antunovic (Graduate Student in the School of communications) "A Female in a Man's World": New-media discourse around the first female NFL referee

Robert Frieden (Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunciations and Law), Current Telecommunications Issues and Their Impact on Sports Broadcasting

List of Interested Sports Faculty and Staff at Penn State

John Affleck (Journalism)
Douglas Allen (Labor & ER)
Daniel Beaver (History)
Michael Berube (English)
Jan Bortner (Athletics)
Philip Bosha (Medicine)
Raynell Brown (Law)
Linda Caldwell (Rec Park Tourism Management)
John Cheslock (Education)
Julie Del Giorno (Athletics)
Wayne DeSarbo (Marketing)
John Dietz (Development)
Mark Dyreson (Kinesiology)
Marie Hardin (Communications)
Scott Kretchmar (Kinesiology)
Murray Nelson (Education)
John Nichols (Communications)
Mike Poorman (Journalism)
John Powell (Marketing)
Russ Rose (Athletics)
Stephen Ross (Law)
Steve Sampsell (Journalism)
Jack Selzer (English)
Jaime Schultz (Kinesiology and Women’s Studies)
Geoff Scott (Law)
Sam Slobounov (Kinesiology)
Ronald Smith (Kinesiology)
Nancy Williams (Kinesiology)
Andrew Wiesner (Statistics)
Randy Woolridge (Finance)