Sportswriter Dave Zirin (he/him) spoke with BSU students on Thursday, November 9 as part of the the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice’s (MRSIJ) speaker series. Zirin’s “The Politics of Play” lecture, delivered in the Moakley Auditorium, concerned his coverage of the political aspects of the sports world.
Zirin is the sports editor of the political magazine The Nation and authors the Edge of Sports blog, as well as hosting a podcast by the same name. He has written 11 books, including his latest book The Kaepernick Effect, which came out in 2021. Zirin also starred in the documentary Behind the Shield, which focuses on the politics of the NFL.
Before the talk, The Comment spoke with Jill Beckwith (she/her), the executive director of the MRISJ. Beckwith recruits speakers who do important social work in the world, looking for people with experience in different fields. Regarding the choice to invite Zirin, Beckwith said, “We thought that might be of interest to the students because he’s not an activist or an elected official or it’s not something that he does on his own time. He does it as a part of his job.”
The MRISJ first heard of Zirin through an event they held last fall called Truthtellers, where they hosted an artist named Robert Chatterley. Chatterley paints different activists and talks about their work, and Dave Zirin was one of the people that he painted.
The MRISJ worked with Dr. Maura Rosenthal (she/her), a professor in the Health and Kinesiology department, to help host this talk. Rosenthal moderated the discussion, and students were given the opportunity to ask questions. During the talk, Zirin touched on different aspects of social justice work within the sports world, naming three key athletes who were also activists: former Brooklyn Dodgers player Jackie Robinson, boxer Muhammad Ali, and tennis star Billie Jean King. He talked about being against publicly funded sports stadiums, making the sports world more inclusive, and how politics has always been in sports.
The next talk in the MRISJ speaker series will be held on February 1 with Imari Paris Jeffries, the Executive Director of Embrace Boston.