Game Over; How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down: The Sports Illustrated Review

Broken Play?

By Ben Reiter


An iconoclastic writer's essays examine the ways in which modern sports and politics interweave


Dave Zirin is passionate about sports--he really is. As a boy he spent hours outside Shea Stadium, begging Mets such as Ron Darling, Kevin Mitchell and Mookie Wilson for autographs until, as he writes, "my baseball glove had more names on it than the cast on a third grader's broken arm." So it is out of love that Zirin, sports editor for The Nation and the host of the weekly Sirius XM show Edge of Sports Radio, sets out to diagnose the sicknesses in modern sports. In the nine wide-ranging essays comprising his lively new collection, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down, Zirin argues that sports have become politics by other means, at once reflecting such societal ills as racism, sexism and vastly unbalanced power dynamics and contributing to those ills.
Zirin focuses his arguments on a variety of culprits: rapacious team owners who squeeze corporate welfare out of municipalities, then price taxpayers out of the billion-dollar palaces they have paid to build; international sporting events that rarely deliver the long-term benefits they promise to the cities and countries that host them; and, of course, the NCAA. Some of this might sound eye-glazing, but Zirin's witty prose and righteous indignation captivates and entertains throughout.
In Zirin's view, there is reason for hope in the new generation of athletes who have rejected their predecessors' cynical apoliticism to become engaged in a way that is reminiscent of their outspoken forebears of nearly half a century ago. Zirin sees some John Carlos--who famously raised a gloved fist alongside teammate Tommie Smith on the podium at the 1968 Olympics and to whom the book is dedicated--in such current stars as LeBron James, who demanded justice for Trayvon Martin. (James posted to his Twitter account a photo of himself and his teammates wearing hooded sweatshirts in solidarity with the murdered Florida teenager.) Some of the connections the author draws, such as between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the NFL and NBA lockouts, might seem a stretch. But it's all provocative, and it will make you think about what we're really seeing when we watch the games we love.

8 Reader Comments | Add a comment

fixing soccer worldwide

David

We are waiting for your take on this.I don't think for a second this is restricted to soccer. What do you think

Fix What?

If you're referring to "racism" then you've just been duped by Dave and the MSM into thinking such a fake problem exists as a problem in soccer.

If you're referring to the very real match fixing scandal, then YES, soccer needs fixing as do all pro-sports which are very likely heavily rigged in some form.

Or perhaps you are talking about doping. Another REAL scandal that the MSM will hide and downplay to the very end.

Meanwhile, they will get on a bullhorn and put it on every news channel in the world if some idiot at a soccer game yells something "racist". Can't have millionaire black athletes being called bad words like "negro". Ooohh the horror!

What?

Is the post above this real? Of course match fixing seems to be a problem that needs to be addressed, though I'm not convinced that combatting "doping" is such a big deal (but I can see why some are passionate about it). However, what is the point of dismissing racism in soccer as a bunch of mainstream media whining? Do you want people to yell racist stuff? I don't get it.

Re:Soccer Match Fixing

Zirin covered this on a recent radio show:

http://www.leftjabradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Edge-of-Sports-02-08-13-Edge-of-Sports_SEG-FULL-NO-COMMERCIALS.mp3

No racism in soccer??????

John - you are absolutely wrong.
First of all racism is unfortunately quite real and in no way a "false" problem, especially not in soccer. Take a look at what's happening in the German futbol club in Dortmund right now....there is a resurgence of neo-nazi fanaticism where fans are beating not only Jewish fans of opposing teams, but actual players as well. This is just one anecdote of numerous acts of race-based violence in soccer. If you are a true futbol fan you would know this and wouldn't turn a blind eye to somethings to shamefully obvious.

No racism in soccer??????

John - you are absolutely wrong.
First of all racism is unfortunately quite real and in no way a "false" problem, especially not in soccer. Take a look at what's happening in the German futbol club in Dortmund right now....there is a resurgence of neo-nazi fanaticism where fans are beating not only Jewish fans of opposing teams, but actual players as well. This is just one anecdote of numerous acts of race-based violence in soccer. If you are a true futbol fan you would know this and wouldn't turn a blind eye to somethings to shamefully obvious.

Good Press for Dave Z? Good for S.I.!

Good for Sports Illustrated--and for DZ!

Good for all the people in barbershops and dentist offices who will have a new sportswriting voice to try out.

And good for Mr. Reiter for recognizing--and leading with--the strongest element of DZ's ethos: He's a real FAN!!!

Good Press for Dave Z? Good for S.I.!

Good for Sports Illustrated--and for DZ!

Good for all the people in barbershops and dentist offices who will have a new sportswriting voice to try out.

And good for Mr. Reiter for recognizing--and leading with--the strongest element of DZ's ethos: He's a real FAN!!!

8 Reader Comments | Add a comment

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com