msnbc | January 27, 2013
>>> on the surface, sports and politics really couldn't be more different. generally speaking one divides and the other unites. we love filling stadiums and arenas and camping out on our couches to scream for our squads but there's a new book that looks at what our politics is doing to our sports. it's called " game over ." how politics has turned the sports world upside down. our friend dave zirin wrote it and hosts a pretty good show on xm radio . nice to have you here.
>> great to be here.
>> sports and politics have always collided but in your new book you contend that the relationship has essentially become even more complex in recent years. how so.
>> absolutely. there's been a fundamental change over the last five years, and one of the reasons why i both the book was that i was so frustrated about the fact that most major sports outlets weren't discussing this. it's like if they were, you know, reporting on the revolutionary war and all they could talk about were the type of muskets people were using and not taking a step back and looking at what actually was taking place. i mean, i would argue there have been three major developments in the last five years that have fundamentally transformed sports. the first is the movement for rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people , lbgt people, something that's been become a part of the sports world in a pretty fundamental way. the sec thing we've seen take place, which really hasn't been talked about nearly enough in this regard, is the economic crisis . the massive economic crisis in 2008 , the largest in 70 years, i mean, it's had a massive ripple effect in the world of sports. you just referenced a sporting event in the lead up to the interview talking about the unrest in egypt, the starting point of that was a soccer riot , a soccer riot that involved a soccer club that i spent a whole chapter talking about in the book, a fundamental central player to the egyptian revolution that overthrew hosni mubarak , and their response to the port say yesterday soccer riot is a very interesting part of what's taking place right there. the focus on the police as opposed to going after other souk soccer clubs and the third thing, and i don't think once again this has been talked about nearly enough, has been the historic -- no matter what one things about president obama , the historic nature of electing the first african- american president in 2008 had an effect of raising the confidence of athletes, particularly african-american athletes.
>> that brings me to my second question.
>> there's been tremendous pressure on athletes to essentially shut up and play unless they are endorsing something.
>> and an increasing number of athletes don't seem to be separating their politics from the profession. this is a recent example, a power forward for the nba's denver nuggets . take a look and i want to talk about this on the other side.
>> my mom to my right is mahassan and my mom to the right is my birth mother , and basically i support civil unions . nobody can't ever tell me that i can't have two mothers because i really do.
>> this probably would never have happened 10 or 15 years ago, david zirin. you know that. why is it now that athletes are taking more political issues?
>> on this issue in particular it's a great example because to me it's the whole real world sports world dynamic and yes, it's definitely true, the real world over here and the sports world over here, but this moat that separates the two, people are starting to build bridges and in the last five years there's been a national movement state by state for lbgt rights and for marriage equality . and athletes, as one athlete said to me, i quote him in the book. he said, look, it's not like we live on planet jock and only come down here to play games and also not like we watch our own msnbc. you know, that's just for athletes. you know, we're part of this world, too, and when you have more and more athletes who have connections to the lbgt community and a more and more confident lbgt community you'll see those connections take place, it's fascinated. led to this year's super bowl . baltimore ravens breyer brendan andio wants to speak about gay marriage and this is only a small part of what i try to talk about in the book, but what it shows so clearly though is you don't have this divide between the sports world and the real world . you have real questions that are often traversed because of social movements .
>> dave zirin , author of the book " game over ," full disclosure, halfway through it, really enjoying it, too.
>> thanks for doing it and thanks for being here on this afternoon.
>> i'll put it on the back cover. i'm halfway through it and i'm really enjoying it.