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Author Dave Zirin sees sports as much more than a game. In his new book Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down, Zirin argues that sports occupies a special position in society that can be both a destructive force and an arena for social progress.
Dave Zirin's contention is that "whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, a politically charged atmosphere pervades all of professional sports."
Lots of fans choose not to acknowledge it, and they'd prefer that athletes keep their mouths shut. But Zirin celebrates athletes who lend their support to progressive causes. He applauds black soccer players who walk off the pitch when they hear racist chants and basketball players who declare their solidarity with Trayvon Martin by wearing hoodies in team photos. He believes that such demonstrations are an indication of a rising political consciousness among athletes, which, he feels, can only be a good thing for the culture-at-large in which the athletes and the games they play loom so large.
A previous Zirin book was titled Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love, and the owners come in for their share of criticism in Game Over as well. The author is also contemptuous of those who run and host such spectaculars as the Olympic Games and the World Cup. He points out, as others have, that these extravaganzas regularly exceed cost estimates, saddle communities with enormous expenses, and suck resources away from such necessities as schools, infrastructure, and health care. He is far from the first critic to note that the poor and disenfranchised are always the people who get shuffled out of the way when a new stadium is built, but that's a point that needs re-stating, since the pattern never seems to change.
In Game Over, as in his previous books, Dave Zirin is a powerful voice for progressive change on the landscape of sports and beyond. He believes that sports constitutes "the closest thing to a common language we have as human beings," which makes the field upon which he has chosen to make his stand and launch his carefully-supported and often persuasive arguments a logical choice.
This segment aired on February 16, 2013.
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