Excellence in Sports Journalism Winner Announced

August 16, 2011

Boston, MA Sport in Society and the Northeastern University School of Journalism are proud to announce that Ron Thomas will be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism.


For almost 40 years, Thomas has written thoughtfully and compellingly on the intersection of sports and social justice by illuminating the persistence of racism in sports and the ramifications for society at large. Thomas has covered pro and major college sports for the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, the Marin (Ca.) Independent Journal, Chicago Daily News and BlackAmericaWeb.com. Curtis Bunn, best-selling author and journalist, writes of Thomas’s life and work:


When Ron Thomas began his first job as a sportswriter in 1973, it was common to call the sports department the ‘toy store of the newsroom’ because supposedly nothing serious was covered in its pages…[Ron Thomas] believed that sports were so popular in the U.S. that the fans not only would read articles about racism in sports, but they might even care about the topic and be influenced by what he wrote. And if they become enlightened about race in sports, they might be able to recognize parallels in the larger society.


Thomas’s belief in sports as a platform for social change is reflected in his lifetime body of work. Thomas was the researcher for HBO’s “Fields of Fire” documentary about the turmoil in sports in the 1960s and ‘70s revolving around racism, the Vietnam War and gender equity. His chapter “Black Faces Still Rare in the Press Box” was published in the sociology textbook “Sports in Society: Equal Opportunity or Business as Usual?” Thomas’ book, “They Cleared the Lane: the NBA’s Black Pioneers,” is a culmination of those efforts.


Earl Lloyd, whose experience as the first African-American to play in the NBA is profiled in Thomas’s book “They Cleared the Lane,” says of the author:


No matter who you know, no matter what you do, there’s no substitute for brains. Ron is extremely bright, and he blends it with being a decent human being. One thing he does better than what he gets paid to do is that he’s an outstanding human being.  To know this man, Ron Thomas, is to love him.”


Now the director of the Journalism and Sports Program at Morehouse College, Thomas works tirelessly to develop the next generation of activist journalists. “Long an advocate for more integration in the press box, Thomas heads [the Morehouse Journalism and Sports Program] that was conceived by noted filmmaker Spike Lee and Excellence in Sports Journalism Award winner Ralph Wiley to increase the ratio of black sports journalists. Thomas also advises the school newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, and teaches the program’s Basic News Writing and Sports Reporting courses,” says Bunn. These accomplishments represent the same ideals that drive Sport in Society’s work and make Ron Thomas most worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

For more information about the Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program, visit http://www.morehouse.edu/academics/journalism/


Learn more about the integration of pro basketball in “They Cleared the Lane: the NBA’s Black Pioneers” at http://www.theyclearedthelane.com/


Follow Ron Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Ron_Thomas32

About Sport in Society


Sport in Society, a Northeastern University College of Professional Studies center, educates and supports emerging leaders and organizations within sport with the awareness, knowledge and skills to implement innovative and impactful solutions for social change.  As a result, we unite the global sports industry under a shared mission of social responsibility.  Sport in Society focuses on issues related to building communities that are healthy, safe and inclusive.  We achieve our mission through socially responsible leadership education and professional development, consulting, and capacity building.


Established in 1986, the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Awards recognize and honor journalists that look at the connection between sport and the societal issues of the world beyond the court and the field. Past winners have included ESPN, HBO, ABC’s Nightline, Howard Cosell, Dick Schaap, Frank Deford and Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated, Robert Lipsyte of The New York Times, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds creators of the Tank MacNamara comic strip, and Pete Thamel of The New York Times. The award recognizes journalistic achievements that enhance our understanding of the impact of sport on our culture.  Learn more at www.sportinsociety.org


About the College of Professional Studies

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence. For more information, visit www.northeastern.edu/cps