In the days of yore, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, and other scribes wrote frequently about the heart and soul of athletic competition. Today, even the most artfully constructed sportswriting is dominated by scandal and bulging-vein bloviating. Thankfully, for those who could care less who drafted whom or who hates Brett Favre, there’s an antidote. Dave Zirin is the thinking fan’s sportswriter, using our various fields of battle as a sociological lens.
In his syndicated Edge of Sports column, and from a variety of platforms, from Sirius XM Satellite Radio to The Nation, Zirin addresses current flaps with refreshing candor. Writing about a punching incident during a college football game, he notes that “beneath the veneer, college football is a multibillion-dollar spectacle of unpaid labor and unhinged fandom.” Unpacking the controversy over the gender of South African track runner Caster Semenya, he writes, “Unfortunately for women athletes, you can’t be too masculine for fear you’ll be called a lesbian. . . . You must market yourself as nonthreatening and blazingly heterosexual.”
For Zirin and his growing legion of fans, sports is more than a game. “It’s physical expression, it’s beauty, and it’s been the site of some of the most electric struggles of the 20th century,” he says.
See Zirin’s biography on his website. Zirin is the author of Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports, with a foreword by Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and his latest book is A People’s History of Sports in the United States , part of Howard Zinn’s People’s History series for The New Press. Listen to Edge of Sports Radio on XM Satellite Radio. Zirin writes regularly for The Nation , where he is sports editor, and his writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times , Sports Illustrated.com and The Progressive .
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