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The Sports Issue: Views from Left Field

Howard Cosell called it rule number one of the jockocracy—the idea that sports and politics don’t mix. Playing the game, and playing it well, is all that matters. And yet the closer you look, the more it becomes apparent that it’s not sports and politics that “don’t mix.” It’s sports and a certain kind of politics—the politics of protest and resistance. Athletes who speak out on issues of social justice invariably pay a price. It’s a problem that powerful commercial interests control the language of sports, not just because it shuts out alternative perspectives but because sports culture shapes other cultural attitudes, norms and power arrangements. Politics runs rampant throughout the sports world, a broad arena in which struggles for racial justice, gender equality and economic fairness are played out.