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What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States
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Dave Zirin, a sports commentator for Air America Radio, takes you through some of the history of how sports and sports stars have helped change America for the better, about the integration of all-white, racist baseball, about how Mohammed Ali helped move the cause of African Americans forward...
I started browsing this book out of curiosity and discovered it was intensely fascinating and moving, that at times, it touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
I've become a Dave Zirin fan.
Zirin tells the forgotten history of sports: of Lester Rodney's campaign to desegregate pro sports (in the 1930s!), the history behind John Carlos and Tommy Smith's raised fists at the 1968 Olympic Games (did you know the white athlete standing next to them ran into the stands to grab a Black Solidarity pin when he saw what was happening?), and brings it up to the present with stories of althetes standing up for justice today. Zirin reminds us that athletes should be respected for their heads as much as their hearts.
In the process, he rekindled a love sports I haven't felt since I was a teenager watching the 6th game of the '86 series.
Jackie Robinson! John Carlos! Barry Bonds! Etan Thomas! Toni Smith! They're all here and they're all part of sports and resistance in the United States. Muhammad Ali, too...just don't call him Cassius Clay or you'll make Zirin's baby cry.
The only problem with this book is that more people aren't reading it. Zirin makes politics fun and drags sports back from the brink of corporate oblivion. The laughs alone are worth at least ten bucks.
If you've got an affinity or adversion to professional sports, this book provides insight not present in mainstream coverage of the press. One review comments that it's nothing more than "left-wing propoganda" - not true.
For example, the perspectives of George Foreman and Muhammad Ali are compared and contrasted. Each is provided a space to present and defend their position. Dave Zirin never depicts athletes as static, unidimensional products, rather, athletes are presented as changing and growing over time. Conservatives and liberals are covered; however as a progressive book the focus is on social dissenters in sports, their backgrounds, experiences, effect(s) on career and society, and ulitmately provides space for some of them to reflect and tell their own stories. One of my favorite elements of the book are these interviews, which let the atheletes say it in their own words.
From football to baseball to soccer to tennis to boxing to the Olympics, Zirin digs into the history and shines a light into the dark corners that the major leagues would prefer remain unexplored. Zirin discusses racism, classism, sexism and homophobia, and also profiles uplifting examples of athletes fighting the power and speaking the truth.
We've all heard the stories about Ali, Jack Johnson, the Black Power moment at the 1968 Olympics. Those stories (with in-depth interviews and analysis) are in "What's My Name, Fool?" But Zirin goes way beyond the obvious to look at the labor movement in sports; the all-but-invisible retirement of one of the world's greatest soccer players; athletes risking it all by publicly resisting war; and much more.
If you're a sports fan, this book will expand your horizons. If you're not a sports fan, this book will give you someone to root for.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. Does get a little too political sometimes . Never ceases to amaze me how sports reflect society.Published 5 months ago by Michael K. Williams
Quality book in fine condition delivered in a timely way. Thanks.Published 7 months ago by thomas e.
This is a collection of essays. Zirin is overly critical of George Foreman.Published 13 months ago by Bobby
Another great book by the author Zirin. I would give this book to friends so they can learn some of the sports history of this nation.Published on October 28, 2013 by Yak67
This book is a great look at the social meaning of sports in America, without neglecting the the sports. Zirin can tell a story, and the book is lively and enaging and never slow.Published on June 10, 2013 by Euboaea