Preview: The Collision of Sports and Politics

September 11, 2013

On occasion, a  sports story breaks free from the sports section — as highlighted by this week’s Time magazine cover story, “It’s Time to Pay College Athletes.” These headlines are less about the latest star or the final score and more about culture, politics and who we hope to be as Americans. Should we build flashy new arenas in bankrupt cities? Do we cheer from the stands or cringe as we watch our children butt heads on the football field, risking a future potential brain trauma?

Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation — the magazine’s first sports editor in the publication’s 148 year history — joins Bill to talk  about the collision of sports and politics. There are so many ways in which sports not only reflects but shapes our lives, Zirin tells Moyers, and it “shapes our understanding of things like racism, sexism, homophobia. It shapes our understanding of corporations and what’s happening to our cities. In so many different ways sports stories are stories of American life in the 21st century.”

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  • David O’Donnell

    Sports is the new “opiate for the masses.” It’s no longer religion.

  • Anonymous

    I always thought that when Lou Brock became the first free agent in sports he would liberate all workers to demand fair pay (based on owners’ revenues) but obviously, and sadly, that didn’t happen. Corporations, including sports teams, put out a carrot on a stick that says if you ‘act right’ you too can be wealthy — not by getting paid a decent wage for a day’s work and saving and/or investing — but by striving for a fantasy, i.e. the ever more elusive American Dream.

  • Anonymous

    Tell that Marx line to MLK and those before him. Sports is a theater where human values and competition are on stage for better or worse. Be it Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey or the incident that occurred in the young Rickey’s coaching career. Sports is an art form that instructs and mirrors Society. It says something about our aspirations and our seamy side. What corrupts sports is the same thing that corrupts politics …. money. There is too d*mn much of it.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah I think you meant Flood, awesome player, too. It didn’t happen, because he went up against the baseball establishment with only one ally, JR. None of his teammates, no active players, testified in his behalf. Corporations are not going to give anyone their due unless they are represented. But I thing we agree there.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, my father was a proud Teamster. They had their faults, but they did get their workers living wages plus health coverage. If they were still around today (and with some power) there would not be a truck going in and out of Walmart or Fast Food chains until they agreed to pay a liveable way. I hope the pendulum has swung as far to the right as it can go…

  • Anonymous


  • Henry Hertz Hobbit

    The power schools are going to give a miserable $2000 stipend? Even custodians make more money than that for 20 hours per week of part-time work. I can remember when the NCAA hounded Jerry Tarkanian to death. The NCAA even used the FBI according to Tarkanian. This whole thing goes back at least to Harold Abrahams (Chariots of Fire) hiring Sam Mussabini to help him improve. Harold’s advisers berated him for it. IMHO, the NCAA have college athletes in a position worse than slaves.

  • Meow

    I really enjoyed your interview with Dave Zirin that played on my PBS station, Sunday.
    That type of interview, where factual information is shared on a subject that is not known by many, seems rare. Mr. Zirin shared so much information regarding the various people; events; etc.
    Mr. Moyers asked stimulating questions, and at times seemed shocked by the amount and degree of insight that Zirin brought to the interview.
    Thanks so much to Dave Zirin, Bill Moyers, and the Bill Moyer’s team for bringing this information to the public.