Many believe that sports are apolitical and neutral. But it isn’t. Sports are intricately enmeshed within the larger societal context. Some athletes speak out. Muhammad Ali in 1967, with the United States at war in Vietnam, refused to be inducted into the military, saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” He was widely condemned. He lost, at the peak of his career, his world championship crown and was banned from boxing for three years. More recently NBA superstar LeBron James was told by Laura Ingraham of Fox to “shut up and dribble” and not talk about politics. James observed, “The best thing she did was help me create more awareness…about social injustice.” Another example was NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s simple act of “taking a knee.” It became a symbol of resistance to America’s racial inequality.
Speaker: Dave Zirin
Dave Zirin is sports editor for The Nation magazine and host of Edge of Sports Podcast. He is the author of many books including The John Carlos Story, What’s My Name, Fool?, A People’s History of Sports in the United States, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down and Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics and the Future of Democracy. His writing earned him Press Action’s Sportswriter of the Year Award.