The adage goes, sports and athletics represent a sacred, apolitical middle ground. A place where we meet without conflict outside of the sport being played.
This is the ideal behind the Olympic Games. This is the ideal put forth when we call professional baseball or football “America’s Game” or refer to a specific team as “America’s Team”. It implies that we all leave politics and differences at the stadium gates, and partake in the joy and entertainment of sport as a unified body.
But is that true today? Or has it ever really been true?
Dave Zirin, sports correspondent with The Nation and author of eight books on athletics and society, joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson for a conversation about the role of sports in our political lives.
“Sports, culturally, have never been more hegemonic,” says Zirin. But, he says, sports have always reflected what is happening in a society.
He says it isn’t surprising that much of the political conversation in sports right now has to do with race, because it’s always been that way.
“This isn’t a new discussion. As long as there have been sports in this country, race has been at the heart of it,” says Zirin. “Sports becomes this incredible staging ground for the morality of race. And it always has been.”
To hear more from Zirin on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.