Pacific Alum to share personal lens on politics and sports
The In Your Facelecture series is wrapping up, with its last speaker, Pacific University alum DeVon Pouncey, presenting on October 31 at 2:15 pm. Pouncey is an experienced sports journalist, podcast host, and influential social and political activist. Professor Jules Boykoff, Department Chair of Politics and Government and the organizer of this speaker series, commented, “DeVon has feet firmly planted in the political world and the sports world. His work over the last decade has been cutting-edge when thinking about the nexus of politics, culture, and sports… I wanted to give him an opportunity to present his thoughts about these different areas in one power-packed lecture.”
The Pacific Index recently caught up with Pouncey over Zoom.
The Index: I understand you are Pacific alumni! What did you study at Pacific University?
DeVon Pouncey: I graduated from Pacific with a Bachelor of General Media.
The Index: What was your experience with sports growing up?
DP: I grew up in a town where sports was everything. Sport was a form of survival for me growing up in the inner city. Growing up, I loved sports—so it wasn’t solely a survival mechanism. Sports had a deep connection in my family… My dad was an athlete and a coach of our youth sports clubs, and my brother and I were in sports together.
The Index: What sparked your interest in analyzing how sports intersect with gender, race, and politics?
DP: Taking the Sports and Politics class at Pacific made me realize how sports and politics affected and impacted my life journey. When I took this class, Colin Kaepernick started protesting, and I was getting into sports broadcasting. With the timing of everything, it all started to click for me, and I no longer viewed sports as just survival. Sports by that time were 1000 percent a part of me. I began to think more critically about sports through the lens of my identity and life journey. My podcast “Wake Up and Win” focuses on the intersection of politics and sports. Starting my podcast was also heavily influenced by the Sports and Politics course and the In Your Face lecture series.
The Index: What are your biggest life lessons from sports?
DP: Teamwork and working with people different from you towards a common goal. When you get into the real and professional worlds, you have to work with people to make things happen; these may be people who don’t identify with you. Also, being an athlete teaches you to push through adversity.
The Index: What work or advocacy do you do politically?
DP: I am the Vendor Program Director for an organization called Street Roots. We work very closely with the unhoused population [of Portland] and publish a weekly newspaper. We produce media as a catalyst for low-barrier income opportunities for unhoused people. Much of our media coverage tends to be more political-facing coverage. I oversee 300 unhoused people who sell our newspaper or whatever media we’re producing for them to be able to make an income. This has allowed me to do a lot more advocacy and policy work. Through my work at Street Roots, I have worked with local and federal policymakers. Also, I was a part of a project called Portland Street Response.
The Index: What will you be speaking about at Pacific?
DP: I’ll be talking about some of the creative ways I’ve brought sports and politics together through some of the political work I’ve done and my work in sports. I’ll also talk about gaining experience in as many sectors of media as I can and how I have allowed my experiences to enhance whatever project I am working on.
The Index: What is your advice to student-athletes who want to use their sport as a platform for awareness and social justice?
DP: Now is the best time to leverage your influence as a student-athlete to make a change! Always be willing to learn, and be courageous but humble. Go for it, and shoot your shot!
— Annette Leschensky