Sports and social justice are becoming increasingly intertwined. Recent events in the United States have sparked calls for social change in a way rarely seen. These developments have been examined through the lenses of race, gender, religion, ethnicity and many more. Now, Carol Costello is taking an angle of her own by looking at the generation gap — and, at least in one episode, acknowledging the role that sports plays in these issues.
Costello, a former CNN personality and current LMU professor, is the creator and host of “I Hate Your Generation,” a new podcast produced through LMU and the Loyolan that can be found on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The new show aims to analyze the divides between Americans of various generations.
“We live in such a heated climate. It just feels like we are trying to actively dislike one another's generations,” Costello said. “At some point, we're going to be in the workplace with people of all ages and we're going to have to get along and understand them. So we're going to have to figure out a way to get along civilly. So as I was thinking about those things, the idea for this podcast was born.”
Two full-length episodes have been released thus far. In the second, Costello interviews two members of the LMU men’s basketball team, head coach Stan Johnson and rising senior guard/forward Eli Scott. Costello mentioned that she wanted to do a sports-centric episode because she was inspired by the ways in which prominent sports figures have led the way in social movements.
“If you look at LeBron James’ Twitter feed, you get the sense that he's serious and he's doing something about it,” she said. “He's not just talking on social media. He's created this get out the vote thing.”
Johnson and Scott, who are both Black, come from different generations but have dealt with a number of the same struggles. Johnson’s recent hiring as men’s basketball coach marks the first time that Scott has played under a Black head coach, and he noticed a change.
“Usually, the coaches I've had in the past, we only relate through basketball, but we have nothing else in common,” Scott said on the podcast. “Coach Stan knows the dangers that I face, and the conversation's much more comfortable with him than it's ever been with anybody else.”
Scott spoke about specific instances, such as his experiences of regularly being stopped by the police while driving. Johnson dealt with very similar situations when he was Scott’s age and continues to encounter them today.
“Like Eli, I drove a nice car — got pulled over so much, it got to the point where my mom had to call the mayor, who she was good friends with, and have a conversation with the mayor because her kid was being pulled over,” Johnson recalled. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pulled over.”
As a coach, Johnson has also noticed the racial disparities in college basketball. As Costello notes during the episode, even though African-Americans make up more than 50% of men’s college basketball players, less than 30% of head coaches are Black.
“I think people hire people that look like them,” Johnson said. “And when you have not spent enough time outside of your culture or outside of your friends, the only thought you may have about who I am is through what you see on TV.”
Johnson also went on to say that Black coaches are often hired to be defensive assistants, and speculated that this could be because offense is seen as the more intellectual side of basketball.
Even though Scott and Johnson both acknowledged the hardships that currently plague the country, they both expressed optimism that change is possible and becoming increasingly likely.
“I think we're probably the most proactive generation,” Scott said. “Everybody being equal, whether that's African-Americans, gay people, it's an empathy standpoint that we have that I feel like most cultures before us didn't have.”
“[My generation] didn't have the same outlets,” Johnson added. “You didn't have the same vehicles to carry your message. Back then, there was no Twitter, there was no Instagram. Things didn't go viral. You didn't have smartphones. So your message was very small. And because of that, that's why people didn't speak out.”
Costello said that Johnson’s response stood out to her, and that it highlighted the differences in how messages are amplified now compared to how they were in the past.
She went on to say that her ultimate goal for the podcast is to bring people together.
“It's just to promote understanding between generations so that we can get this country back on the right track, because we all have to work together no matter our age,” she said. “We have to learn to get along and be civil and get things done instead of all battling one another.”