Critical Response Blog to Zirin’s ‘Game Over’
There is an old adage that reads something like “politics and sports should never mix.” Even the book Game Over, written by established sports writer Dave Zirin references this proverb. But why not, is the question that should be asked? Why is it wrong to use the ever growing platform of sport, and more importantly pro sport to voice opinions and displeasures about matters concerning our world? Isn’t there power in knowledge? Zirin, as well as Michael Eric Dyson who contributed to the foreword, examines this concept, and how in recent times athletes have abandoned this idea and taken into their own hands an effort to empower and educate those who may otherwise not have the ability to know. The foreword, or ‘Pre-Game’, examines potentially the world’s most famous athlete, LeBron James and his teammates silent protest of the Trayvon Martin tragedy by posting a picture of them with their hoods up (as many have eluded that Martin was deemed ‘suspicious’ because his hood was up). One can imagine how a single picture can cause debates across not only the sports landscape but also the political landscape. Sure there is the fact that James has nearly 4 million followers to his Instagram account, and the premise of social media is to allow news to travel faster than light. More importantly however, is that LeBron was the first. In a time where professional athletes are worried about saying or tweeting the wrong thing or being caught with the wrong person by TMZ because of the chance they may lose out on millions of dollars, LeBron stood up and set a tone for all professional athletes. He used his notoriety, his power and his platform to educate. Whether or not he is right (as you may or may not know, George Zimmerman, who shot Martin, was found not guilty), he broke down Howard Cosell’s ‘golden rule’ that “sports and politics just don’t mix” (Zirin, 2013). We must be careful to remember the difference between politics in sports and politics and sports. Sports in politics have always coincided, from the early days of professional baseball, to the most recent lockouts in the NFL (National Football League), NBA (National Basketball League) and NHL (National Hockey League). Rarely, however have sports and politics overlapped as much as they have recently. Hopefully LeBron James can change the landscape of this as well as he has changed the landscape of the small forward in the NBA.
Jonathan De Luca
Zirin, D. (2013). Game over. New York, NY: The New Press.