Why do Americans worship athletes, and why do we continue to view sports as a near-holy sanctuary into which things such as politics should never enter? "We love sports because it provides escape and the promise of magic," says The Nation's Dave Zirin, "But beneath the pyro, it's a fun-house mirror of who we are as a country."
Zirin recently sat down with ESPN's Scoop Jackson to explain why politics have always been an inextricable part of sports. In fact, Zirin made his new movie, Not Just A Game: Power, Politics & American Sports, to examine this long and fruitful history of politics in sports. From Billie Jean King to Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown to Pat Tillman, "no matter the 'ism' we're talking about," Zirin says, "racism, militarism, sexism, commercialism—the point of the film is that there is politics and promise woven throughout."