Q&A: Talking politics and sports with Dave Zirin

Tue, Jan 4

I guess it can be called a natural progression. When you are as good, outspoken, respected and feared in the field of demanding social, political and racial equality in sports as Dave Zirin has been over the last decade, magazines, books, television and radio aren't enough. Film has to be explored. In his new documentary. "Not Just A Game: Power, Politics & American Sports," Zirin gets his Michael Moore on. With the entire landscape of sports as his target, he -- as he always seems to do -- puts a mirror up to America and makes us realize that we ain't as pretty as we like to think we are. Page 2's Scoop Jackson discussed the film with Zirin.

You could have done this entire film on sexism in sports, agree? What made you not do that and decide to tackle a bigger, broader story?

It's a great question. One reason is that this film has already been made. People can check out the brilliant "Playing Unfair." Another is that more than anything, the film is about the way politics and sports are forever enmeshed/entangled with one another. The historic relationship between the sports world and American women is one part of that story. But no matter the "ism" we're talking about -- racism, militarism, sexism, commercialism -- the point of the film is that there is politics and promise woven throughout. For Bobby Riggs, there is Billie Jean King: for Avery Brundage, there is Muhammad Ali. For the caricature of Pat Tillman, there is the real flesh and blood man Pat Tillman. Sports is the closest thing to a national language we have. So the results of these battles for social justice inside sports have serious repercussions in the real world.

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