Basically this is a collection of entries from Dave Zirin's The Edge of Sports
column. Which, for those of you who (like myself) had never heard of it, is apparently a sports column with a progressive political slant.
The reason I'd never heard of the column is that I'm not at all a sports fan. Which is one of the reasons I decided to read this book, actually. I think it's good to get outside your ken once in a while. Not exactly outside my comfort zone, though, since I'm all about progressive politics. But hey, you can only ask so much.
The book was a pretty good read. Being an American Studies student, when I'm going to read something like this I would prefer it to be in more of an in-depth, extended-essay type form—think Henry Giroux's The Mouse that Roared,
which I loved—rather than a bunch of two- to three-page essays (columns). That's a question of form, and I'm sure some people prefer this approach, but of course form influences content. And this particular form means that he doesn't get very deep with his analysis and he can't draw very many significant connections among the diverse issues he's discussing. To Zirin's credit, he does try to work out those connections in the intros and the Afterword. And I'm sure compiling the book this way saved him an ungodly amount of work, which might have made the difference between doing the book and not. So fair enough.
The content was reasonably interesting—some parts more than others. I got pretty bored with the discussion of unions, for some reason. (I don't know why; I'm fully in support of players' unions and I tend to be one of the opposing voices when people bitch about players' strikes—I hate hearing all about players' exorbitant salaries, considering that they are the ones doing the work and management is making tons more on their backs.) But most of the rest of it I found pretty interesting. His exposure of the nationalism and inherent politics in pro sports today, for example, was eye-opening.
If you're a sports fan with progressive politics, I would think this would be right up your alley. Zirin's leftist slant is completely apparent, and he makes no apologies for it. If that doesn't bother you, give it a shot. Frankly, I think that politically conservative voices are all too common in sports these days; it's nice to have some counterweight.