Following in the footsteps of Robeson, Ali, Robinson and others, today’s Black athletes re-engage with social issues and the meaning of American patriotism
Product Code: 6876
ISBN: 9780807038086
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 288
Published Date: 01/29/2019
Availability:In stock
Price: $17.00
The August 2018 Justice and Spirit: Unitarian Universalist Book Club selection.

For most of the twentieth century, “No News on the Sports Page” governed how sports were played and perceived in America. The ballfield was a sanctuary from real-world problems. Today, that is a naive notion.

The reasons are complex. But among them, post 9/11, sports arenas transformed into staging grounds for American patriotism and pride. As America dealt with terrorism at home, hero-worship of law enforcement took center stage. Police officers threw out first pitches; soldiers’ surprise homecomings became a staple at half time; and teams wore camouflage jerseys to honor those who served. Any critique of police or military authority looked unpatriotic, even when the authority deserved criticism.

This paradigm shift activated a long-dormant force not seen in several decades: the black athlete as a figure of resistance. In The Heritage, sports journalist Howard Bryant observes how the tradition of neutrality on the pitch has given way to a new generation of activist-athletes. It is the story of the rise, fall, and return of “athlevists” who refuse to “shut up and play.” It is a heritage built by the superstardom and radical politics of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos in the 1960s; undermined by apolitical, corporation-friendly “transcenders of race” O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods, in the following decades; and reclaimed today by the likes of LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Carmelo Anthony in the wake of Ferguson and Freddie Gray. Revealing and incisive, Bryant deftly shows how sports is colliding with political culture, and how athletes, teams and leagues are melding the two.

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1. Stick to Sports
2. The Good Americans
3. Juice
4. Jump, Man
5. “Our Way of Life”
6. The Sanitation Department
7. Props
8. Ferguson
9. Until We Get Some Say
10. “Who Is the Patriot?”
The Peacemakers

“A fascinating, insightful look at race, politics, and sport.” —Booklist

“A well-researched meditation on the historical pressures on African-American athletes to embrace (or avoid) political engagement. . . An appealing blend of sports history and provocative discussion of race and success, respect, and representation in America.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In this timely book, Bryant, senior writer for ESPN Magazine, astutely explains how sports serves ‘as a barometer of blacks’ standing in the larger culture.’ . . . . This indispensable book expertly chronicles a fractured nation dealing with black players who no longer want to (as Fox News host Laura Ingraham told LeBron James) ‘shut up and dribble.’” —Publishers Weekly

“A fascinating and complex look at the role of black athletes as political activists. Bryant’s analysis of the intersection of professional sports and promoting patriotism (or nationalism, depending on one’s point of view) is especially enlightening.” —Library Journal

“Bryant keeps his eye on the ball. On top of that, Bryant writes with the kind of vim, in turns darkly comic and serious, that pulls you from page to page. It’s a bracing analysis that brings clarity during a hazy season.” —Pacific Standard

“Bryant’s The Heritage is required reading for young people to realize what they’re seeing isn’t new, for current adults to understand the current climate in American sports and for older folks who lamented the lack of activist voices in the athletic ranks. The baton has been tossed.” —New York Amsterdam News

“It may make people uncomfortable, but I’m pleased that Howard Bryant has chosen to tell the story of our heritage, and even more pleased that there are still ballplayers today who are willing to stand up for what they think is right.” —Henry Aaron, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

“Serious times call for serious action. After leaving a communist totalitarian country when I was eighteen, I was free to speak out, and I did. The Heritage gives the clearest breakdown I’ve read on why we athletes not only have the right to advocate for what we believe in—but oftentimes a duty.” —Martina Navratilova, eighteen-time tennis Grand Slam winner

“If you believe that sports can be a lens for interpreting and understanding our world, then The Heritage is the Rosetta stone. Howard Bryant’s latest explains so much about racism and the black athlete’s place in US history that every chapter could be its own college course. But Bryant’s book is less history than twenty-first-century prophetic fire: a polemic homing in on the ways that militarism, sports, and black athletic resistance have become volcanically explosive in the era of Trump. This is the book for explaining our times, whether you give a damn about sports or not.” —Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation, and author of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

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