Saturday, April 14, 2012

The People's History of Sports in the United States

Howard Zinn's classic history book, "A People's History of the United States", is one of the most important books ever written. To say that it should be required as taught in public schools is an understatement. It is a staggering book, and one of its largest impacts is its inspiring a slew of pin-point "People's History" sequels. I have read great entries in the series about the Vietnam War and the Mexican Revolution.

The topic of this book might not seem as important as the aforementioned, but consider how much sports invades our culture. This book tries to dispell the myth of the thoughtless care-free jock. A part of me wished there had been more, but the powerful actions of sports heroes of the past, described here, mostly left me wondering what happened. Where are the activist athletes today?

Charity is really a huge part of the modern sports industry, but standing up against injustice is not. Today racism is less of an issue. Players have stronger unions. So much has changed.

Highlights of this book include: Muhammad Ali, Jessie Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and the University of Washington's football team's protesting the Vietnam War.

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