Modern-day sports are a meritocracy. The best players play, regardless of skin color. But it wasn’t always that way, so on Tuesday some of the nation’s most hallowed sportsmen came together at Hammer Theatre to discuss how far the nation has come, and how far we still have to go. Hosted by San Jose State University, which announced the new Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, the half-day event featured Harry Edwards—an SJSU alumnus and founder of the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights—convening a panel with football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former 49ers players Anquan Boldin and Takeo Spikes, NBA and Fab Five alum Chris Webber and track and field gold medalist Tommie Smith, whose black-gloved fist changed the course of history and is commemorated on SJSU’s campus. In an enlightening, at times humorous, discussion on sports and society, Brown talked about his recent meeting with President Donald Trump—despite voting for Hillary Clinton—and the need to build bridges. Much of the discussion centered on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem, and how to take the next step from words to action—ironically, scant attention was paid to Kap suggesting voting is for suckers, or that the event didn’t include athletes or media who identify as Latino, Asian or LGBTQ. Abdul-Jabbar was insightful on athletes leveraging their newfound wealth into economic initiatives, but not everyone was so eloquent. Brown, in saying African Americans shouldn’t be “pigeon-holed” to stereotypes, suggested black people take a cue from another stereotype. “Sometimes you look at your culture and what it can do,” Brown said. “You look at the Jewish community and the principles they applied and look at the power they have.” The audience, hypnotized by the collective athletic achievements, inexplicably applauded the backhanded compliment.