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Amplifying Athlete Voices Off the Court | SXSW 2021

Candace Parker
Host at Turner Sports
+ 3 speakers
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SXSW 2021
March 20, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
SXSW 2021
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Amplifying Athlete Voices Off the Court | SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Candace Parker
Host at Turner Sports
Eric Jackson
Program Director at Turner Sports
Chris Webber
Professional basketball player at Turner Sports
Morgann Mitchell
Assistant Manager of Social Media at Bleacher Report

Chris Webber serves as a game analyst for NBA on TNT including the network’s exclusive NBA All-Star and Conference Finals coverage alongside Marv Albert and Reggie Miller. He has also served as a studio host and analyst for NBA TV. Additionally, Webber has also contributed as a guest studio analyst on the Sports Emmy-award winning Inside the NBA making select appearances alongside host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. Webber is also a game analyst for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship as part of the Turner Sports and CBS Sports partnership.

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Morgann is social media producer for Turner Sports focused on NBA on TNT and NBATV. Most recently, Mitchell spent time in the NBA bubble in Orlando gathering content for all the NBA platforms and assisting with NBA Twitter Live. Prior to this role, Mitchell worked with Turner Sports talent on social media activations and provided social support to other groups across the company. In her first role with Turner Sports social, Mitchell was responsible for conceptualizing content for the NBA TV social media handles.

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About the talk

Watch filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine along with subject Steve Garza discuss their documentary BOYS STATE with Ryan Heath from Politico. BOYS STATE is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. In the process, Moss and McBaine have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. Moss, McBaine, and Garza discuss the new political generation, the influence of the current state of politics, and the future and of civic engagement among the youth.

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Hello and welcome to amplifying athletes voices off the court for decades athletes have been using their platforms to talk about issues that are affecting this country, but it felt like 2020 was a huge year where a lot of athletes need to step up and really use their platforms to not only talk about covid in the Fanta make that were in, but also the killings of black citizens in this country. Joining us we have WNBA Legend Superstar, extraordinaire, Candace Parker. So thank you for joining us and then we have the VP of NBA

digital content operations and diversifies sports content. Did I get that right there? Jasmine it is also we have OU well you're great. And also we have Chris Webber joining us our Turner sports analyst with thank you guys all for being here today. I wanted to really start things off with unity being a big theme of last year and so many people coming together and the WNBA has always been at the Forefront of that Candace. But how in the WNBA bubble? Really shook the nation?

Sing a lot of it is preparation in the small moments when the cameras weren't there, just having a foundation of what you stand for and what you believe and I'll say this over and over and over again. We are illegal women 80% women of color. Different socioeconomic backgrounds, lgbtq Community. Like we are the majority of the minority in this country. And so, with that being said, I think the WBA was built for moments like this and built for understanding and being in the community. And I don't think it just started

this past year. And with that being said, I think it's a lot of talk, but putting action behind a talk and within the WBA. If you look just underneath everything in behind the scenes of everything, we've always been in the community, we've always stood up for what we believe in and we feel like that's our duty. Because we represent those people in the places that we come from, but just to be apart of the bubble this past summer, And to go there with a purpose. There were so many people when you tune in and sometimes, you know, you're on calls and it's four other causes and you'll have

15 or 20 players to look on a call or to look at a meeting and see the majority of the players showing up to be on calls, with family members of of women that have been killed by police brutality and that leaves an impact. And so, I think all of us when they were certain moments in the bubble Jacob Lake just standing together in unity and and really showing that we're stronger than all of us stand here for a common cause and you know, that's what we've done. And that's we're going to continue to do. Yeah. And speaking of Jacob Lake, Chris you actually we're on that night.

When the players that we are not going to take this, we're going to make sure that changes are made in response to Jacob, Lakes shooting, and your words were so powerful. And I think helped Open the Eyes to a lot of people who didn't really understand. What was going on in this country or maybe just haven't felt the need to really lock into it. What was the response to people? Or the response from people? When you did share? Such intimate feelings about everything you were experiencing. First, you know, I like that. Thanks, Herman, shot them off because, you know,

Kansas was talking about how WNBA and the women, they are beautiful and they are 100%, right? And you have to have partners that still for it as well. And so, I went over and told me good morning told me that, you know, what we'd like to see if you have something to stay the night. Because we were supposed to know it's coming up and saw really have any time to prepare and it was just yesterday. And so I was happy that the response from the people was one of thank you for speaking up for us. Thank you for saying what we've been wanting to say, thank you for voicing your

opinions. And so for me thank you too. Wonderful on me to do that. But it was good because I'm going up with bubbling over with now. By the hands of police officers in time, you didn't have any response, was overwhelmingly. Yeah. And I think a big part of that was also how the media covered it and Eric you being head of content for so many different properties, how important weather for black voices to be Amplified during that time? So that our stories could be told So, first of all, you no black voices have been

far-reaching for a long time, in this space, as athletes, you can go back to, you know, Muhammad Ali and Cleveland Summit with, you know, that cast of very important athletes surrounding him and supporting him and careened Through the Years recently, passed away, Jackie Robinson. Who's always been at the Forefront of social change and civil rights. And it's funny that you ask Chris about that cuz I just text him something right before we started the session and the last conversation that I had with Chris with Chris was congratulating him

right after that in the bubble. And you know the one thing I want to say to Candice's, you ladies have been on the Forefront of this type of Engagement for a long time and we're just now recognizing you as such in the thing that you left out your also mothers in the bubble to The balance that in the one moment that resonated most for me when you guys were in the bubble was you had an owner of one of the team's the Atlanta Dream who was also in a senate race and not only did you voice your disdain for that owner

being part of the league but you also did not want her in the Senate and you campaign, you holistically is is athletes campaign for her opponent. And it worked. That's the amplification and that's the power of your voice. And so, you know, last May was a Tipping Point with George Floyd, but these voices, these players got to be on the platform where they weren't at the time. You know, part of the restart and inside the bubble. So you saw Jaylen Brown drive from Boston, in March, in Atlanta. And so, you know, those were all proud moments and I think that type of

Engagement, just created a, sort of a contagious atmosphere were more and more joined in. Otherwise probably would have stayed silent and just a piggyback on that. The I am a Georgia resident. I vote in Georgia. I did not even know what the senate race situation was at that point. So I think everyone was so mad about the president that they weren't looking at those other elections that are so important to us nationally. So how did you guys got those t-shirts so fast? I just want to say that and I have one too. But how did those

conversations come about? Cuz obviously she made her comments. Obviously they were disrespectful to the league into the teen witch that she owns specifically or was a governor of specifically. How did you guys have this conversation to say now instead of us just being upset about it? Let's do something about it. Speak on the leadership, within the NBA and the WBA and I say that in, we have a pretty solid. I would say players union that actively participates in both the NBA and the WBA.

There's a number of times where we would hop on calls me to call earlier in the year in the bubble with Michelle Obama. When she was talking about voting and it was right around that time where our leadership Neco, ghuma, ke Sue bird. Laser Claritin, those who was really reached out and talk to us and listen to what we had to say. And then from that, there was action, you know, I was on a call with, with Sue bird. And I remember her speaking about the Facebook and how they had to drop the, to make it more catchy and she's like,

instead of saying, vote for Warnock, let's drop the four and just vote Warnock. And so, that's how the T-shirt came about. And because we were in the bubble, everybody was connected. I mean, you think about everybody living in one area? So it was almost like the perfect storm of being able to con us around that message. Amplify it in a way, where game after game we wore those t-shirts and you know, we were able to have meetings whenever to talk about, you know, different things that we were passionate about different things going to focus on him. So honestly, I commend our leadership and just

so cohesion of the wnbpa as well as mvpa always do and really showing each other support and love and Christ. What I also think is interesting, is that what we've learned is that everybody has to have different roles within this fight, right? Like some people are leaving, some people are just carrying the torch. Some people are working behind the scenes. What have you really learned about NBA players that you've talked to, or even some of the retired guys about what is your role in this fight? I think it's just really cool that the younger

generation is embracing the role in the leadership of generations before them, you know, if there was no Billie, Jean King, there could be no Kansas on the baddest women to have a basketball if there was no Bill Russell, it can be LeBron and all the great things of bronze shutoff in court, but I really like it, sitting back and watching younger generation take leadership. I mean what they did in the bubble, what are the WNBA women did was Voting? What I can assure you. That even though we may be employed as the organization will

show you, maybe you have the power and that's the power of the people. So right now I think it really didn't show me anything but what made me feel really good. You know, I'm two hands of society. I feel isn't a good place. You do know, we have a lot of people present because there's at least like those in the WNBA. President asked because there's Partners in corporations and things they want to see all of these things change. So I was just in Courage, by the stand, at the Deb that the WNBA at the NBA players are more than anything. I was just inspired, you know, all the lessons of the past.

It's just we're Wasted that I actually put a battery in a fuel T's young people and I'll take it to another level. So, what's going to happen when their children? When it's like to have one is Candace's. Daughter is doing what it's supposed to do. Yeah, and I think also a comes along that with that is we have social media now. So content is change in terms of how players are getting their messages across. Eric, what have you seen when it comes to players telling their own stories and how it's the responsibility of the media to amplify

those stories? Youthful? Exuberance around? I need to have my voice heard. It was participation beyond what we could have ever imagined and everybody has a social platform these days. So not only cannot be visible in linear media, but I can be visible and digital media and tell the story. My authentic way in the authenticity is what I think makes the difference. Because it provides the connective tissue with society that this generation really need is like here's a guy that looks like me or lady,

that looks like me in my age demographic. It's not the old head, like are Jackson telling me what I should do. It's people like my daughter's who threw art and expression, you know, do their own thing on social media and people resonate with that. And so, you know, for me, it's telling my generation to get on board and that we are in good hands with the younger generation, you know, amplifying their voice is beautiful to watch and be part of. And you know, if they ever need the wisdom of, you know, those Elders call upon them and you know like Anna's was saying some of those

Elders reside and you know the players association's on both the WNBA in the NBA and you know, they're helping leave those voices. I remember hearing that, you know, the players got on the phone with Barack Obama, 44 told him what he thought about it. You know, you know, shout out to the president. As we talked about the younger generation, Candice, we put on some call together and what soap opera one is that they're growing up so differently than we are there were going at the same time that it's not men's athletes and women's. Athletes athletes representing so many different sports and

how is it that you seen your daughter, be able to grow and develop knowing that she's able to do be president if she wants to be at this point versus before. When I think we were growing up, there seem to be those glass ceilings that existed. Well, it's so important to see something obviously but it's so so so crucial to see someone and I think those are the biggest things now with social media and the reach we have with the internet and I know see why he has a young daughter as well. The moment I shared with my daughter when when Kamala took the oath

and became vice president, I looked at her and I said, see, you can be president and she looked at me and was like, I didn't ever think I couldn't. So I think it's that generation that they'd seen so much that they don't set boundaries and limits to what they can do. And so, it's with that hope and I just feel like there's just that, that childlike innocence of before the world told you told you, you couldn't do something and that's what I'm seeing now, is that, why can't I do that? Why can't, you know, you're seeing that in our younger generation and their care for others? You know, I

stay all the time, it means way more. For Chris, Chris Webber to sit up here and speak about women's sports. Just as with allies in our, in our White Community, it means more for them to say, black lives matter. And we're seeing kids that are getting involved in things that have no impact on themselves. Just because they know it's right. And so, I think this generation is no longer settling for this is just the way things have always been there saying that. What is right, is, right? And we need to work towards that and Eric, your daughters are older. So how do they feel about what

they're saying now? And so, you know, seeing their engagement, and their young 20s, and the political election. And literally, my daughter, staying up till 2 in the morning, trying to see the results of the presidential. Election was like, normally she's up at 2 in the morning, watching YouTube, or Netflix, or something of that nature, and then rising up the next morning. Pretty early, and saying, You know, Vine one, the one you know like it was amazing to me to see their engagement in really owning

the responsibility of voting and for the most part you know, we want as a family and that was like yes this is what you know when I watch my 90 year old grandma, you know, her first priority was who's going to take me to vote? You know, when I was like a little kid in back in my day you could actually go into the, you know, the polling Precinct with him and watch him do it. So it's always resonated with me and my family, but to see that passed on. Generationally was just, you know, the coup de gras for me, so you have little little ones right now. But what messages do you think you're

going to be able to share with them about just using their own voices is, and how important they are? And that they really do matter when it comes to making changes. Yeah. Well, you know, I have a boy and a girl twins and hopefully for my son, a blackmail. Hopefully that is that I don't have to be as fearful when he engages with the police woman. Not being able to. She already knows she can beat up her brother and his fast as he is as smart as he is. As Eric said, it's been happening Generations before but it just

seemed like this last 10 years or so I'm going to watershed moment where are parents so much work has allowed us to grow up and believe in the midst of the fighting things happen in such as President Obama and Kamala Harris and other things and smaller and we can make some I just I like the fact that our children can really hope and believe because I never thought of my life time I see black president and I have and who knows all the potential that this next Generation has I'm just more

so excited when I teach them just to be good, human beings to work hard. To give it to love God, put him first. It really maybe they'll be in the system A system that allows them to be good by just doing that. And so I hope I just pray that you know and all the glory is it a generation? Yeah, and I do believe that that's what's coming next and I think a big part of that is educating the older Generations on that. Eric you talking about bringing people along you've always fought for diversity in the workplace and even

young and my career here, talking about the hiring pool that you choose from. How have you chosen to model? How you build your teams and how are you helping your colleagues? See that we have to change the diversity in the workplace to then affect the change in the rest of the world 2. Yeah Morgan. This is a passion point of mine and you know it from the conversations you and I've had Through The Years you know coming into the workforce out of college, I went to an HBCU, did not know what to expect coming out and spending, you know, 20 plus years of my 30-plus year career.

As the only one in the room, never felt good to me, but it never felt uncomfortable and I made a pact with myself years ago, that I would change the narrative and the way for me to change the narrative was to educate on the other side of it, educate them about my culture, Who I Am, What am about. But also demonstrate demonstrate, the work, ethic the voice in the room. That wasn't afraid to speak up and be my own authentic self wherever I went because at the end of the day, when I walk into my house, with my two daughters and my wife, that's all I can

be. Right. So I got to be there at every where I am and that example for me needed to be such that when the next guy was under consideration or the next young lady that look like me was in in consideration, it was a no-brainer and so in doing that you've got to have that voice and be able to speak up. So what happens when the room changes and now your career start at Elevate in your, in some rooms where the decision-makers are. Cuz that's the room we're talking about where the decision is made, on hiring on content that replicates what society looks like and that's the

room you want to be in. And when you're in that room, make a difference. And that's what I've always tried to do. And so a passion point for me is always been to cultivate those. You do that are coming up to be able to impart, whatever wisdom I could on them and pay it forward that way we're talking about you who is an owner of her owner. And just seeing how it's so important for you to have decision-making capability. And just have Billy's responsibility is to write. What was it about ownership? That was

so important to you. Well, first with women sports, I tell everybody you guys should watch when it Sports. You guys should support women sports, but I also have to put my money where my mouth is because I have to make sure that I'm supporting women sports and I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and maybe is not even directly benefiting me a tea. No, it's not basketball. And so when the Angel City FC came about, I looked at it as an opportunity to kind of go into this business venture with my daughter because I think it accomplishes two things. It's

championing, championing women sports but also teaching generational knowledge and wealth and teaching how things how everything works in the world with ownership and you know so I think that was a huge opportunity for me. Think I'm passionate about and I love what Angel FC is about. It's about the community. It's about growing women sports. It's about not just professionally, but seeing women in leadership positions as you talked about, it's important to see a diverse group around the table. And so, when that opportunity came about, you know, I I, I really am looking

forward to going on this journey with my daughter, you know, she's on the investor calls with me and and asking questions. And I think that just Is so important to be able to share that with your kids. And so that's some that's something we're really excited about it is so wonderful that athletes have been leaders through these difficult times. And I think we just seen the importance of people with voices, using their voices. I'm so with that, I really want to thank everyone for joining us. I think we got some amazing and side. I really thank you guys for your honesty and openness in this

conversation. So, thank you guys for joining us for amplifying athlete. Voices off the court and enjoy the rest of your panels for South by Southwest. Thank you.

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Candace Parker
Eric Jackson
Chris Webber
Morgann Mitchell