It’s likely that 2016 will be remembered as one of the most tumultuous years of the early 21st century, marked by Britain’s EU exit, worldwide terror attacks, and the highly contentious U.S. election.
Only time will tell what 2017 will bring, but Northeastern University experts foresee a future in which the trends and pitched battles of 2016 will spill over into the coming year.
In the second installment of this two-part series, we look at some of the big news stories primed to make headlines in sports, politics, and TV.
‘2017 will be this generation’s 1967’
“Sport in 2017 will continue to be a resurgent and resounding platform for athlete-led social activism,” says Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. “If history repeats itself, 2017 will be this generation’s 1967, a year in which prominent athletes held a social justice summit to call out institutionalized inequity, confront it, and catapult a conversation that America still needs to hear, embrace, and lead.”
Lebowitz draws a parallel between the sports activists of today and those of decades past, comparing their commitment to justice for all. Then we had basketball’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics, and tennis’ Billie Jean King, who advocated for gender equality. Today we have football’s Colin Kaepernick, whose national anthem protest captured the nation’s attention, and college basketball’s Bronson Koenig, who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline and then reflected on his experience for The Players’ Tribune.
“The power of sport is great and vast, but true greatness goes beyond the lines on a field or court,” says Lebowitz. “In 2017, the champions we generally celebrate with a parade will lead that parade toward collective wellness and betterment.”
‘Trump will do what he promised’
Bill Crotty, professor emeritus of political science, says that Donald Trump will follow through on his campaign pledge to put “America first.”
“He will do what he promised,” Crotty explains. “His nominees for the top economic and national security positions make this clear.”
What’s less clear, according to Crotty, is how the Democratic Party will respond to the Trump administration.
Crotty says that the Democrats need to rebuild the party from the ground up while returning their policy focus to the economy. But he’s not sure that party leaders will have the wherewithal to take such an approach to combat Republican control of all three branches of government. As he puts it, “It has not been an assertive party in recent years.”
One hope for the Democrats could be new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “He has a reputation as a clever strategist and a strong fundraiser,” says Crotty, “and he will likely prove to be a more aggressive party spokesperson.”
When assessing the future of the country, Crotty notes that Trump “shows little restraint in what he says or does and has little confidence in the rule of law.” But he also calls him “a skilled politician with an ability to move a crowd.”
And he predicts that he will run again in four years. “Eight years of Trump could consolidate political power beyond anything yet experienced,” he explains. “The one bright spot? It cannot all be done in 2017.”
In the world of TV, what’s old is new again
Limited series’ and franchise revivals will take over your TV in 2017, according to Joanne Morreale, associate professor of media and screen studies.
HBO recently acquired the rights to Coromon Strike, a limited series based on J.K. Rowling’s bestselling crime novels, and Prison Break will be returning to FOX after a seven-year hiatus. Twin Peaks, the surreal 90s drama created by David Lynch, will be returning to Showtime as a nine-episode miniseries some 26 years after it was cancelled by ABC.
“The limited series is a common model in the U.K. that is now being adopted by the American industry,” says Morreale, a media critic and author of the book Critiquing the Sitcom. “It makes economic sense to invest in eight episodes rather than 24 episodes a year, it allows you to attract big-name talent, and it leaves you the option of renewing a successful show.”
In the first installment of this series, faculty experts explained that politically motivated cyberattacks would continue, innovative solutions to climate change are on the horizon, and bipartisan support for healthcare legislation is possible.