It is difficult to imagine two more different university towns in the United States than Madison, Wisconsin, and Norman, Oklahoma. Madison has a reputation stretching back decades as liberal ― even radical ― territory. That ain’t Norman. In recent days, however, both communities were connected by the resistance of Black students ― and supporters ― against racism. Madison and Norman are bringing together different aspects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It demonstrates how this struggle is firmly implanted among the young ― including young athletes.
Left-wing London-based US journalist and author Mike Marqusee passed away on January 13 from cancer, aged 61. Below, radical sports writer and socialist Dave Zirin pays tribute. It is abridged from The Nation. *** Radical journalist Mike Marqusee, the greatest professional influence on my life, has died. Losing Mike is like losing several pints of blood. I’m left dizzy by the prospect of his absence.
All it took was a recording of Donald Sterling insulting Magic Johnson in a derogatory manner for the 24-hour news world to stop on its axis. Now imagine if Donald Sterling ― in all of his paranoid, racist fervour ― had an army at his disposal and bombed Magic Johnson in his home, killing him in his sleep. If such a scenario sounds like hacky Phillip K Dick fan fiction as written by Mike Lupica, then you have not been paying attention to the dystopian, genocidal panorama in Gaza, where no one is safe. You are unfamiliar with the name Ahed Zaqout.
When the Palestinian national football (soccer) team secured entry into the 2015 Asia Cup to be played next January in Australia, it won the right to play in an international tournament for the first time in its 86-year history. Crowds gathered by the hundreds on the beaches in Gaza to dance, play music and watch the triumph of their national team on large movie-sized television screens on the beaches.
When I was in Brazil for those first days of the World Cup, I was ― with many other journalists ― tear gassed by military police. I saw sleek, urban-outfitted tanks in the streets and I felt concussion grenades send subsonic shrapnel crashing into my eardrums. I didn’t see the drones flying overhead, but then again, no one without a Hubble telescope is supposed to see the drones.
A 13-year-old boy from Brazil’s Guarani tribe makes a political stand in front of 70,000 football fans and what he thinks is an international audience. A movement led by indigenous women in the United States beats a billion-dollar brand of the big, bad NFL. These two stories share more than the fact that they took place during the same week. They share the ways that people in power have sought to combat their courage by trying to render them invisible.
Before returning to the favela (local neighbourhood) Vila Autodromo for the first time since 2012, I had already been told that the community would not look the same. As a friend said to me, “It will resemble a perfect smile with several teeth knocked out.” Vila Autodromo is just yards away from the site of the 2016 Rio Olympic village. Olympic planners, as well as building interests, have long targeted this close-knit community for demolition.
It is understandable that Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has come out swinging. Given that strikes, land occupations and protests are ripping out across the country in advance of the World Cup; given that a Pew Research Poll found 67% of the country is dissatisfied with her handling of the tournament organising; and given that Rousseff faces an election later this year, she is fed up and ready to play the conspiracy card about the turmoil gripping the country.
There are plenty examples of sporting “droughts”, but there has never been a more harrowing athletic drought — rife with pain, pathos and perseverance — quite like that of the Palestinian national football team. This is a national team without a recognised nation to call home; a national team that has never qualified for a major international tournament; a national team that, like its people, struggles to be seen. That drought, 86 years in the making, is now over.
By criticising the 2014 World Cup and the spending priorities of the Brazilian government, Brazilian football legend Pele has accomplished the rarest of feats in 21st century sports media: he has shown the capacity to shock and surprise. “It’s clear that politically speaking, the money spent to build the stadiums was a lot, and in some cases was more than it should have been,” Pele said during a lecture at Anahuac University in Mexico City.