LEADING WOMEN’S SPORTS ACTIVIST FIRST UP AT IN YOUR FACE LECTURE SERIES

Pacific University is hosting a three-speaker series that will dive into the interconnectedness of politics, sports, and media. The Pacific Index sat down with Dr. Jules Boykoff, who is organizing this event, to learn more. He explained, “We’re hoping to have deep and rich conversations with these three cutting-edge speakers about what it means to be thinking about sports and politics in this particular moment and give students an opportunity to meet these folks.”

The three speakers are Shireen Ahmed, Sydney Bauer, and Pacific alum DeVon Pouncey. Shireen Ahmed, who will present first on September 23, is a decorated sports journalist and prominent activist who concentrates on bringing awareness to racism and misogyny in sports.

“She is a force,” exclaimed Dr. Boykoff, “and is one of the most influential thinkers at the nexus of culture, politics, and sports that is out there writing in the media.”

In anticipation of her lecture, The Pacific Index recently caught up with Ahmed by email.

The Index: What was your experience with sports growing up?

Shireen Ahmed: I loved soccer, I felt so happy to be on the soccer pitch. My parents put me in so many things including ice-skating, ice hockey, and competitive swimming… I was also in rugby, badminton, and squash in university. I love sports; there are aspects of my personality that really showed on the court or pitch. I was always supported by my parents to play sports. My dad was a firm believer that one’s life needs to be balanced spiritually, intellectually, and physically.

The Index: So, what sparked your interest and passion in racism and sexism in sports?

SA: My interest and passion in examining racism, sexism and the intersections of sports really came from a personal place because in exploring and interrogating systems of oppression around racialized Muslim women, I looked at my own experience. I was excluded from playing soccer because I chose to wear a hijab and at the time there was no law saying that you couldn’t wear a hijab, which made things complicated.

The Index: What are the greatest life lessons you have learned from sports?

SA: One of the most important life lessons I have learned from sports is to have grace with yourself when you fail. We have to forgive ourselves and learn from the mistakes we have made… and have the ability to move forward.

The Index: What will you be speaking about at Pacific University?

SA: My keynote at Pacific University will be a mélange of discussions about sports, sports media, and how I, as a racialized woman, fit into the space of sports media.

The Index: What are your other passions outside of sports?

SA: Outside of sports, I love coffee, eating, traveling, and reading audiobooks. I love my husband and my kids. My cat is the center of my universe.

The Index: Are you currently working on any research or professional projects and what are they about?

SA: I recently entered a submission to the Sociology of Sport Journal. An ongoing professional project is my podcast, Burn It All Down. We have a really cool event coming up at Notre Dame University: We’ll be doing a live recording of the podcast and I’m super excited about that! Burn It All Down is one of my proudest professional accomplishments.

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