Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

How College Athletics Shape Culture and Community

6:00 pm - 7:15 pm
Biddeford Campus (Harold Alfond Forum Room 283)
Sayvon Foster
Free and open to the public. There will be a reception at 5 P.M.

Institutions of higher education have a longstanding history of shaping their student communities and the broader non-student communities connected to their campuses through cultural reproduction – or the transmission of norms, values, and cultural components across generations, spaces, and organizations. This lecture will build upon this understanding by exploring the operation, role, and importance of cultural reproduction in college sporting spaces—paying special attention to fan experience, athlete experience, and organizational culture. 

The lecture stems from the overarching work conducted by Foster’s SESMI Research Lab that explores the nuances of Special Mission Institutions and the dynamic relationship between the institution, the sporting space, and the communities served. The concept of Special Mission Institutions extends beyond the existing framework for Minority Serving Institutions by broadening the scope through the inclusion of religious, class-conscious, and culturally-influenced regional colleges and universities. 

Through his talk, Foster will expand and enrich the lenses and framing we use when discussing, experiencing, and working within college sporting spaces. In doing so, he will impart to attendees a greater understanding of how college athletics help shape communities. 


Sayvon JL Foster, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of sport management at the University of Kansas. By trade, he is a sport sociologist, who specializes in college athletics with emphases on HBCU athletics, college sport culture, and college athlete experience and development. Within his research and classrooms, he takes on a practical and liberatory stance that centers accessibility, understanding, and justice. He is the founder of the Sport Experience at Special Mission Institutions (SESMI) Research Lab. The mission of the SESMI Research Lab is to center sport at Special Mission Institutions through rigorous and accessible scholarship, amplify sport at Special Mission Institutions and their communities through collaboration, and celebrate the contributions of these spaces through public scholarship and service. Outside of his teaching and research, Foster plays an active role on his respective campuses and communities by serving as a first-year student mentor, Social Justice & Campus Climate Committee member, SOEHS scholarship committee member, and youth mentor. 

Foster has published his scholarship in journals such as the Sociology of Sport Journal, Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, Innovative Higher Education, and the Journal of Athlete Development and Experience. He has also presented research at multiple national and international conferences, notably the North American Society for Sport Management, the College Sport Research Institute, and the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.

Suggested Readings

  • Foster, Sayvon J.L. “You Gotta Be There: A Thematic Content Analysis of the Historically Black College and University Sporting Experience.” Communication & Sport, 16 Sept. 2022, p. 216747952211257, https://doi.org/10.1177/21674795221125787.
  • Foster, Sayvon J.L., et al. “A Different World: A Blackcrit Reconceptualization of Historically Black Colleges and Universities Athletics.” Sociology of Sport Journal, vol. 40, no. 1, 1 Mar. 2023, pp. 40–50, https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.2021-0105


630 Pool Street
Biddeford, ME 04005
United States