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Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down Paperback – January 29, 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Short of wearing out the subject of politics in sports (Bad Sports, 2010, and A People’s History of Sports in the United States, 2008), sports analyst Zirin focuses here on the pushback by athletes and fans around the globe against injustices they see, whether in sports alone or on the larger political stage. For example, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns changed their name to Los Suns for their 2010 Cinco de Mayo game versus the San Antonio Spurs to express their solidarity with Arizona’s Hispanics over the state’s tough anti-immigration laws. The NFL Players Association stood against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s efforts to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers there. And there was worldwide support of South African runner Caster Semenya, who won silver in the women’s 800-meter event at the 2012 London Games, over questions regarding the legitimacy of her stated gender. Other subjects include the Penn State scandal, the public reaction to Linsanity, and the continued objectification of women in sports. Readers who have responded to Zirin’s other highly engaging books will find more of the same here. --Alan Moores

Review

“A damning indictment of all that is corrupting sports and a song of praise for athletes standing up for human rights and decency.”
Kirkus

“In his enlightening essay collection, Nation columnist and author Zirin (Welcome to the Terrordome) employs common sense and research to show that politics and sports are entangled, whether it’s members of the Green Bay Packers supporting the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s public workers or the Phoenix Suns donning ‘Los Suns’ uniforms to protest Arizona’s controversial, immigrant-obsessed law, SB 1070. . . . Zirin steadfastly demonstrates how the games we watch are not just an escape from the everyday: they are a reflection that provides a perfect opportunity for protest and change.”
Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (January 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595588159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595588159
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Zirin's newest volume returns to his favorite topics: race, gender, unions, the corporatization and corruption of sports, and athletes willing to speak out on any of the above. What makes his work important, even indispensable, is his selection and emphasis. Simply by raising the issues he does, Zirin makes a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture.

"Game Over" is mostly a snapshot of sports and society from 2010 to 2012. The Occupy movement looms large, as does the Arab Spring, World Cup, Jeremy Lin mania, and Penn State child rape scandal. All are grist for Zirin's mill, but they also reveal the beauty of his formula. American athletics, at least in its current institutional forms, can be counted on to produce a steady stream of fresh outrage.

One can quibble with Zirin's analysis, but what other American journalist is writing about the revolutionary role of Egyptian soccer hooligans? Who else is remotely interested in the hidden costs of the Olympics and World Cup, especially for workers and activists in host countries? Whether or not you accept his arguments, Zirin consistently calls our attention to the social context and significance of sports, and "Game Over" keeps that streak alive.
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Format: Paperback
Dave Zirin does certainly not have writer's block. He has been churning out books virtually every year since 2005 when he published "What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States." He gives voice to my frustrations with his leftist take on sports, politics, and society in modern America. Zirin is at his best, as in the case with this book, when he does not try to write history but instead comments on current issues. Too often, unfortunately, Zirin's historical work is a bit less sophisticated than I would like. That is not the case with this book. He focuses in "Game Over" on a series of recent events in the incursion of politics into sports, mostly in the U.S. but also with some discussion of events elsewhere.

The book opens with a narrative of how NFL and NBA owners both sought at essentially the same time a massive transfer of the proceeds of these games from players to the owners. This is greed run amok, not unlike the greed that led to the global meltdown in 2007-2008. The NFL owners locked out the players, but the players' association was able to draw connections to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and helped themselves get past the general meme that billionaires and millionaires were duking it out over who got more of the lucrative NFL pie. The players especially tied themselves to the thousands of service industry workers who made they livings at the stadiums, bars, restaurants, and other work associated with game day. By emphasizing that the players were working stiffs, albeit well-paid ones for very short average careers, as opposed to those who own the teams and suck local communities dry in stadium deals and exploit workers across the board, the players gained the upper hand in negotiations.
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Various aspects of various sports, domestic and international, from a left-liberal perspective. Says many things that need to be said about the right-wing ownership and management of pro and "amateur" (e.g. the NCAA) sports. Point of praise: a great many endnotes, but they consist entirely of source references. That's the way it ought to be.
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A great read, even if you are not into sports.
Very sad to read how the Olympics affects neighborhoods and countries' economies, and the behind-the-scenes politicking. I will never contribute or encourage the Olympics in the USA again.
I pray the Sochi Winter Olympics of 2014 will not turn violent.
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Format: Paperback
The lesson I learned from this read is that a good book can be ruined by too much soap-box. Game Over by Dave Zirin is mostly a well-written, engaging book. It looks at the sports-world, both in America and abroad, and it’s relationship with politics. These are connections that need to be better recognized and Zirin does a good job of drawing the lines to make the connections.

The first chapter begins with the Green Bay Packers – so of course, how could I not love that – and the connections between the Packers, the NFL Lockout, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Occupy Movement. Other chapters cover soccer and the Arab Spring, the Olympics and a global movement towards police states, and the NCAA and labor.

The most powerful chapter is the one on Joe Paterno and the sports world’s willingness to turn its eyes from very terrible wrongs. As Zirin points out, “this is what happens when a football program becomes the economic, social, and spiritual heartbeat of an entire region.” I have no doubt that had this book been written a few months later, that chapter would have included conversation about Stubenville as well.

The chapter on “Sexuality and Sports” highlights far more than just your average “woman aren’t treated equally” view. Zirin gets into everything from the ultra-sexualization of some women athletes to the full gender spectrum that includes more than those on the outer edges of masculine and feminine. If you were to pick up this book and only read 2 chapters, I’d definitely suggest this one and the one on Paterno.

As I said, Game Over is mostly well-written. It’s sprinkled throughout with a little too much of Zirin’s own politics. These things can be glossed over for the most part, until you get to the last chapter.
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