'Game Over': Mixing Sports And Politics | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

'Game Over': Mixing Sports And Politics

Play associated audio

The uneasy confluence of sports and politics is featured in a new book by The Nation's Dave Zirin, called Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down.

During the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, athletes routinely made their political views known. In some cases, that isolated them from sports fans. In other cases, their influence led to real change. But in recent decades, those voices fell silent. Some say the siren's call of endorsement deals made them gun-shy about speaking their minds.

Zirin tells NPR's Laura Sullivan that he's seen evidence that those political stands are coming back into vogue for sports figures.


Interview Highlights

On athletes' changed attitudes toward taking political stands

"One of those changes is athletes becoming more sophisticated, with tools like social media, and going beyond a sports media that they largely do not trust, to speak to fans directly about the issues that they care about."

On the risks of being political

"Sports has become a trillion-dollar global entity by projecting athletes, really, who are as bland and apolitical as possible so they don't offend anybody in the audience.

"So you're talking about a very limited window where athletes can earn the majority of money that they're going to make over the course of their entire lives. ... [Political speech] becomes something that actually is very dangerous, whether for keeping their job in the league, whether for keeping sponsors. And you do run that risk of finding yourself all of a sudden out of a job."

On what may be the next stage for political dissent: college athletics

"The NCAA tournament is an $11-billion deal all by itself. Coaches make millions and the players don't see a thing. This is one of those things where I really do believe that the center will not hold. Because coaches keep getting paid more and more, players more and more are seeing the NCAA as really this amoral tool of enforcement, like something that has no real moral weight."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Tales' Of Pig Intelligence, Factory Farming And Humane Bacon

Journalist Barry Estabrook wanted to know more about the animal and its journey from the farm to his plate. In a new book, he explores the dichotomies of the industry that's raising our pork chops.
NPR

'Tales' Of Pig Intelligence, Factory Farming And Humane Bacon

Journalist Barry Estabrook wanted to know more about the animal and its journey from the farm to his plate. In a new book, he explores the dichotomies of the industry that's raising our pork chops.
NPR

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee Announces Presidential Run

Huckabee, who previously sought the presidency in 2008, hosted a television program on Fox until January, when he ended the eponymous show to consider his political future.
NPR

As Emoji Spread Beyond Texts, Many Remain [Confounded Face] [Interrobang]

There's a growing tendency to bring the tiny hieroglyphs off of phones, but not everyone is fluent. New takes on emoji integration suggest misunderstanding may be remedied with universal translation.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.