Dave Zirin

All Brandon Marshall wanted was the opportunity to be part of the moment.

Ever since Andrew Johnson welcomed the New York Mutuals to the White House in 1867, presidential politics has exploited professional sports. It’s a foolproof way for politicians to show voters they enjoy competition, fair play and are salt-of-the-turf Americans.

Witness the massive padlock, tightly hugging its doors. That will tell you all you need to know about Hurricane Gustav and the federal US government’s carefully orchestrated response.

“Go Red for China!” was the slogan unveiled on the Chinese mainland by Pepsi-Cola, whose ubiquitous blue can will, “for a limited time”, be red.

Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano once stated about US domination of Latin America: “Marines shouldered bats next to their rifles when they imposed imperial order in a region by blood and fire. Baseball then became for the people of the Caribbean what baseball is to [them].”

In a world where the mainstream media riddles dumbed-down news reportage with inane sports metaphors, sometimes it takes sports to remind us of the gravity of the actual news.

Almost four decades later, the image can still make
hairs rise on unsuspecting necks. It’s 1968, and 200-metre gold medalist Tommie Smith stands next to bronze winner John Carlos, their raised black-gloved fists smashing the sky on the medal stand in Mexico City. They were Trojan Horses of Rage — bringing the Black revolution into that citadel of propriety and hypocrisy: the Olympic games. When people see that image, their eyes are drawn like magnets toward Smith and Carlos, standing in black socks, their heads bowed in controlled concentration.

Pages

Subscribe to Dave Zirin