tv Whats My Name Fool CSPAN April 29, 2017 4:00pm-4:45pm EDT
>> sunday on q&a. 50 years ago on april 28, >> up next on history bookshelf, irin talksn -- dave z about his book "what's my name, fool?" sportss the case that have long been tied to politics. it is about 45 minutes. good evening ladies and gentlemen -- good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i had the pleasure of
introducing dave zirin. regular sports commentator on the rail with chuck d. he is a senior writer at basketball.com. his journalism has appeared in the source, the college sporting news, the san francisco bay view . he talks about his book "what's my name, fool?" the san francisco bay view has said that he is that rarest of commodities with sports writing. and original voice. -- andok will be loved voice. orginal welcomingn me in dave's iran.
-- dave zirin. what's my name, fool? this book is about times when radical politics found expression in the road of professional sports in the u.s.. i have heardear, some of the jokes about this book. like, radical politics in u.s. sports. that will make a great template. while you add the great atheists of the christin coalition? there is a tradition deeply hidden when times of struggle off the field exploded onto the field with electric consequences. this condition runs --
i actually had a front row seat for this carnival of reaction. i went to a washington nationals game. i went because i wanted to see a baseball game. instead, what i was treated to was what the nationals were calling military appreciation "man."or were swornoung men into the u.s. marines before the start of the game. this took place with george w. bush sitting in one of the owners boxes up top. andannouncer thanked bush the troops for fighting for our freedom in iraq. utterlyere slack-jawed,
specious -- speechless. theans, we were informed by this embodied god voice that we could sign up for operation iraqi freedom at a stand located right outside of the stadium. peanuts, cracker jacks and war, that's a great evening if i ever heard one. you find yourself in this stadium with absolutely no voice. to find yourself with no way express yourself to the athletic industrial complex. i was sitting there and it never ceases to amaze me how sports, something that had a huge role in shaping may growing up, a positive influence on me growing up. i think we should celebrate beauty and the best of competition and fun.
it can be used in such a disgusting way. i love sports, i think we need to fight for sports. what we need to know is our history. that is our greatest ammunition in this fight. we need to know the history of the athletes, the sportswriters and the fans who have stood up to the machine if for no other knowing this history allows us to look at the world and see that struggle can affect every aspect of life in the system. i want to start about the title of the book and where it comes from. i used to have a joke that flunked mightily. "what's my name, fool?" is not a tribute to mr. t. [applause]
i was at a book store when a young, well-meaning person asked me if this was a book about mr. t and was-- mr. totally serious. i want to start about where this title comes from. this is a direct reference to what i think is behind points of that connection between sports and resistance. that was when the heavyweight champion of the world had one foot in the black freedom struggle and one in the antiwar movement. i'm talking about the great muhammad ali. 2005, i think people under 30 know the guy as -- no muhammad ali as aow muhammad walking saint. had him on the back and leave him by the hand. you would never know that this
was the most despised, slender rise and -- slanderized and the unitedathlete in states. changed his name from andius clay to cassius x then to muhammad ali. you have to get will smith out of your heads. there are no words for the storm this caused when cassius clay changed his name. obviously thes biggest sport in the united states in the 1960's, the champion of the red white and blue, strength, aggression, all these things. then you had the heavyweight champion of the world talking about how pretty he was. and then, joining the
organization of malcolm x.. the mobbed up flight world -- fight world lost their minds. whether the name became so seminal to the 60's, whether you called him clay or ali. it said everything about you. what side you are on in the black struggle, the free speech struggle. it was an incredible thing. me how-aunt was telling she moved out of her apartment for a week. couchayed on a friend's because she got into a huge fight with her dad about whether the heavyweight champion's name happened to be clay or ali. you may think this is a
dysfunctional family. you would be right. aboutn't an argument pain, it was an argument about the. . it was an argument about the radicalization breaking out and what side of the barricades you are on. in 1965, ali fought a two-time champion. a man who was proudly patriotic, floyd patterson. this is what patterson said to the reporters. " this fight is a crusade to reclaim the sport from black muslims. as a catholic, i will reclaim this from clay. his name is clay." muhammad ali had no response. he had nothing to say in response to this. he let it simmer and then he did his talking in the ring.
nine rounds against patterson and he just took them apart. whiteld yell, come on america, what is my name? say my name, fool. that is where i get the title of the book. it is a good title. ist know that mohammed ali the first responsible for saying "what's my name, fool?" peoplehe background that don't know. the symbolic freedom struggle. as bryant gumbel said, i can't believe i'm quoting him, it is a good quote. he said one of the reasons the civil rights movement went toward is because black people -- went forward is because black people were able to claim their
fear. that came from watching mohammed ali. he refused to be a freight -- afraid. civil bond who was a rights activist and is now a head of the naacp, he said that the act of ollie joining the nation was not something we all agreed with. we loved that he was telling white people to go to hell for us. he was giving people confidence in the movements going outside of the ring that are very evocative and not something we are taught in sports century moments on espn. the first is something that took place in alabama. you had a group of african-american athletes. the youth wing of the civil rights movement. they organized a group called the loans county freedom party. sharecroppers, people who worked
in factories down there. they are famous in the annals of the civil rights movement because they were the first people to use the symbol of a black panther. they use that as an inspiration. they called themselves the black panthers. that is something that the people who know the civil rights movement now. -- know. what they had emblazoned underneath the black panther was "we are the greatest." another example was martin luther king. he came out against the war in vietnam in 1967. it is not remembered the degree of pressure he received at the time. they thought that king should not be speaking out about and national -- international affairs of war. when he gave his first
,reference -- press conference like mohammed ali us, we are all victims of the same justice and oppression. i think the stories are incredible, i hope i am not alone. i think the problem is that in sports history itself, as it is told on the world wide leader -- espn, he gets soft lighting, the espn.music, it becomes the political teeth get extracted. that is what the book is about. it tries to reclaim that history. the history that we know, the history we are not told. it is well-known that jack johnson is the first heavyweight champion of the world. he won the title in 1908. title -- fended the
this started the greatest race riot that the country would ever see. the character of these rides were white mobs. they were attempting to enter black neighborhoods and black communities defending themselves by force. after a boxing match, this occurred. 1910. that, booker t. washington who was outraged went to johnson and demanded that he condemn people for rioting. johnson responded that you can kiss my black ass. we may also know that baseball
was segregated for 50 years until 1947. do we know the story of leicester red rodney -- lester rodney? lester rodney used the sports section to fight for baseball's integration. a campaign that garnered over a million signatures from wrigley field to yankee stadium to misty park. i got to interview lester rodney for this book. it was an absolute privilege and not something i will ever forget . 95 years old and sharp as a tack. i think we know him mostly as this quiet, suffering, black saint who was brought to the dodgers under the paternal one great sticky -- branch
dickey. as -- heon't know him was the number one requested speaker of the naacp in the united states at that time. countryed around the speaking at meetings. the number two speaker was martin luther king. the way that robinson would wrap up his speeches -- he would use this one line. he would say if i have to choose between the hall of fame and full citizenship for my people, i would choose full citizenship time and time again. debs would say that i will arrive, it will be with the ranks not for the ranks. i think it is incredible.
we may know about the famed black power salute of tommie smith and john carlos of the 1968 olympics. it is being commemorated. it was commemorated in a statute in california. there is a lot about that picture we don't know. it is one of the most marketed pictures in the last hundred years. we don't know that tommie smith and john carlos -- they wanted to protest poverty. they didn't wear shoes. ofwas a massive breed etiquette at the time. -- breach of etiquette at the time. , he i got to john carlos said i wanted it open to represent shift workers, blue-collar people and the underdogs. the people whose contributions to society are so important but don't get recognized. you certainly don't hear about the instances that were occurring around these guys in 1968 that led to that moment.
the assassination of dr. king and how it influenced those guys to make a stand at the olympics. the movement that was occurring in south africa at the time. it was apartheid. of course, the assassination of 500 students and workers in mexico city by the state police as they attempted to make mexico city safe for the olympic games. we see the picture but we don't hear any of the history. that is the equivalent of telling the story of the titanic and forgetting the iceberg. it is that history. it is generally bad -- it is , andhistory -- bad history writing asally bad well. a book about the underdog as well.
we may know about billie jean king's match against bobby rigs. whenever they do retrospectives of that, we don't know how deeply embedded that match was at the time. it was one of the most enduring victories of the women's movement. it ensured equal funding. it is largely unenforced but still an incredible victory. it is calmly thought of as just a sports thing. opportunitiesnal in general. it is a living history and it is a life anytime athletes try to try to -- ype or -- carla still got up try to --
delgado says that this was based on murder lies. this close of the racism of this system. people should check out his book of poetry called more than an athlete that will blow your mind. it was a lie when felipe alou who is a manager of the san francisco giants stands up to on anti-immigrant racism sports radio. i think it is especially alive when the u.s. congress and their steroid hysteria hoopla. they are like joe mccarthy's little cousin. bondseared calling barry to testify on steroids. they were afraid that he would say what he was saying to
reporters. to useit illegal steroids but it is not illegal to make a t-shirt for $.50 in korea? we can dissect what we like and dislike about sports and challenge not only sports but challenge our society to change. fly overhead and baltimore ravens games, we can ask how many physical education everys are cut to pay for blue angel. windows disgustingly -- when those discussed only sexist -- disgustingly sexist beer commericals are used, we can ask what they are doing. when they see a touchdown dance get to raunchy, we can ask how a
network that pays the o'reilly millions and promotes shows like who's your daddy and the littlest groom, i don't want to say what that is about but it is kind of gross. how they have the right to be the purity police. when our cities are attempting to be soaked by stadium deals. .ike the rat house we can stand up as sports fans and say we may love baseball, , i'm not going to give a billionaire $350 million for the privilege of watching it. by speaking out for the political soul of the sports that we love, we stand for social justice in every arena. we also begin to impose our own ideas on sports. a counter morality to compete with the hypocrisy of the elites. to barry bondsl to not give up sports.
it is a thrill to mia hamm. it is a morality that recognizes athletes as human beings with mines as well as bodies. understandneeds to that athletes who speak out for social justice -- ali's,ant more muhammad john carlos's and billy jean king's. mike piazza:ving press conference to say that he is not gay, we need to -- as tommy smith himself said about his famed lack power salute,-- black power it is not something that i can
get on about. it has not been resolved. it will be part of our future. >> he is absolutely right. struggle is part of our future. attackat occurs, it will and it is affecting athletes and fans alike. the book is about knowing that those who speak out actually stand in a tradition that goes back 100 years and speaks to beyond the field of play. it is tradition we should embrace whether we are sports fans or not. thank you.
we're taking questions. i would remind people that we are on tv. just raise your hand. >> i have been mulling on this question for about 10 years. i have been really looking for to being here. can't think of a better place to ask. i read your article about the jack's johnson riots. in 1992.r i was a freshman in high school, when the chicago bulls first won the nba championship, i remember the rodney king trial verdicts that just happened. remember seeing on tv that after the bulls one, fans rushed to the vip. i think the chicago stadium is
on the foresight of town. they were assaulting limousines and all of the important people. they were burning police cars. my question is -- up on tried to look this the internet. given the fact that the chicago police are racist and brutal, what is it about that that allows these little opportunities for people to fight back in a victorious way? they won, they drove the cops away. do you know about anything in where sports history there was some political advance after a sports victory or defeat? sports, iar as world don't know, do sports take place out of the united states? i was born and raised in this country. getting -- i am just
kidding. [laughter] occur, i doriots do think that obviously, you don't go out and burn a limousine if you're feeling really good about your life and your options and what is going on in the world. i think they are largely, if not entirely expressions of alienation. whether they occur on college .ampuses or the city that doesn't mean they are politically progressive in any way. it is not a good thing. me -- i wasdy asked at syracuse university. how do we channel this against the war? you don't. it is an expression of disconnect from politics, not an expression of their connection. it is an outgrowth of anger and frustration that people feel.
i do think it is something positive that we can organize. it was a character of people defending their neighborhoods against white lynch mobs and feeling the confidence to do that. i think there is a qualitative difference than some guys lighting their mattress on fire in their frat house and throwing it out on the street. i want to talk to those guys, just not when they are drunk. i want to talk about the olympics first. think this one man was the head of the committee. he was a former physical director for francisco franco. i was wondering if you know the background behind that. i don't know whether or not you talk about the situations.
glickman was one of them. he was excluded from the olympics because he was jewish. you had included that in the book itself. the other question i had was the transformation/metamorphosis of george foreman. he was really he was closed and didn't say very much. whereas, ali was really boisterous. it is like a complete metamorphosis, now george foreman is really loud. have you talked about that and what the basis of that was? we know that ali, because of his disease and because he took too many punches probably. he is quiet. the book "inead your face" in the 1970's, a sports book that talked about the issues that were very similar to that period of time.
dave: first about the olympics and juan antonio sameran, whose name you pronounced just fine, he was the head for a long time of the international olympic committee, the i.o.c. now the i.o.c., throughout their history in the last 100 years, had more facists sitting around the table than your typical outtakes of the nuremburg trial. [laughter] dave: it was an outrageous motley crew of people who supported franco, spain and hitler, it was like find me a facist, these guys were. [laughter] dave: they followed them around like a groupies following around the grateful dead. and it actually connects pretty well with the history of the olympics, the modern olympics. starting in 1898, which was also the year of the spanish-american war in this country. i mean it had to do with actually organizing the divisions of the world. through games. i mean representing what was happening in the broader sense in the world. and i do talk about that in the book. but the modern olympic movement, it is kind of a contradictory thing. on the one hand, you get to see sports that are utterly
marginalized in the other times. i like watching those sports. i like not having to watch the same thing all the time. and a lot of those sports, i think there's just incredible beauty and it's wonderful, really. i mean the way in the state of maryland, the way it really did come alive like michael phelps the swimmer. and all of a sudden people are talking about swimming. and that to me is interesting, it's learning stuff. it is different. especially women's sports get a profile in the olympics they don't get other times. but the olympics itself as a quote-unquote movement, and they talk about the olympic movement. i would argue is utterly barbaric and reactionary in every way, shape and form. and if you want proof, you raised one example, which to me is the tip of the iceberg, and that's the 1936 olympics in berlin. the history of when the olympics actually go to a place and what they do to a place in terms of organizing a city. it is about crushing a municipality and actually crushing the people who actually live in a given city. and people in new york, you guys should give yourselves a hand for warding off the 200 -- the 2012 olympics.
[applause] dave: you did very well for yourself. just the last thing, i'm sorry to say about that is one of the reasons why you guys didn't get the olympics is because they were flooded with emails and phone calls from people in new york city, saying, please do not send us the olympics. because people here had some sense of actually what that means for ordinary people. there's a whole history about that which we can talk about. foreman, i'm not going to talk about other people have questions. i have a lot about foreman in the book because i got to interview him. which was really cool, especially when he started singing bob dylan to make him over the phone, that "everybody must get stoned" song. and he said, do you know what that's about? i don't know. he's like, it's about when people throw stones at you when you make a stand. and i was like, i don't know, george, think it's about drugs. you should go get stoned. i don't know. sorry. [laughter] go ahead. >> i'm wondering if there was a pivot point that got the sports
labor movement started. and if you can tell us if the american labor movement can learn anything from the pro sports labor movement? dave: i mean, yeah. first it's an understanding that unions i would argue , are part of the labor movement. which is kind of a difficult argument sometimes, because you have some athletes like michael jordan, magic johnson, who are part owners of teams. and i don't care how good your union is if you're a steel worker, you're not going to own a string of steel mills at the end of the day. so it's distorted. but the whole reason that the players make their supersalaries is because of the fact that there was a union movement in sports, particularly in the 1960's. and the pivot for that was really two events. and i talk about it extensively in the book, a whole chapter on it. one was the hiring of marvin miller, a steel worker's union organizer. and i got to interview him for the book. and he brought a different kind
of approach to organizing baseball players. who at the time baseball players, what they made in a year average salary in the mid 1960's for a baseball player was like low $20,000 at that point. every player, unless you were like mickey mantle basically, you worked in the off-season. i interviewed older players, they worked in quarries in the off-season. crushing rocks. it's hard to imagine alex rodriguez going to a quarry. [laughter] dave: you know, but that is what the conditions were like at the time. and they won that bigger piece of the pie through active struggle and solidarity. and the pivot for that was marvin miller and his relationship with kurt flood, which i talk about in the book. kurt flood was a different kind of player who represented a lot of people in that he came from oakland, which means he came from a city. and he was african-american growing up in oakland. so it's like that was different for the major leagues in the 1960's. because at the time there was still a minority of black players. and the ones who were there tended to come from small towns in the south, very isolated. here you had kurt flood coming in, representing a lot of players who were new at the time, coming in and having to
play like in the southern minor leagues. and people would be calling them "boy" and asking them to eat on the bus. and you know, all that stuff. and he would be like, who are you talking to? you know. i'm from oakland, i will kill you. [laughter] dave: and it's just like, it's very different kind of attitude. that he brought to it. and so is what he did was him and marvin miller, marvin miller, the genius of marvin miller, is that the labor movement and a lot of labor leaders today need to see this, does not exist in a vacuum. he got that black workers were becoming radicalized. he talked with kurt flood about how to push that forward. and even though kurt flood, the story ends up being tragic. but he fought to end the reserve clause, which was the trigger for the salaries spiraling upward to where we are today. what i take from it is one player, about alex rodriguez, they said if alex rodriguez has a soul, he'll send 10% of his paycheck to kurt flood's family. >> dave, is there any truth to
the rumor that you were on steroids when you wrote this book? [laughter] >> that is not really my question. could you talk about the way the sports world and the ensuing madness in the media, co-opted pat tillman's move from pro football into the u.s. military? well, the person who asked that question is a writer named mickey z., one of the best writers out there. if you've never heard of him, should get his stuff. [applause] dave: i'm sorry, i just wanted it say that, he's an incredible writer. to answer the first question, i am taking steroids, there's a doctor who's going to get sued pretty darn quick, i'll tell you. the second part, the pat tillman story is, is to me like almost overbearingly, overwhelmingly tragic. and it's one that i think is worth reviving and talking about. especially given what cindy sheehan is doing right now, in texas. [applause]
it's one of those things where you say never let anybody tell you that one person can't make a difference. i mean if they're willing to , actually get out and put themselves on the line. and i mean, the connection with cindy sheehan has to do with pat tillman's parents. people know the story of pat tillman, i'm going to assume they do. he turned down millions of dollars in the nfl, he joined the army rangers, we got the big nationally-he was killed in afghanistan. there was a nationally-televised funeral that john mccain and other quote-unquote political luminaries spoke at. bush even spoke on the jumbotron in the arizona stadium. to address the fans as everybody cheered and a flu -- flew the blue angels, u.s.a., u.s.a. and the only problem is that that it was a disgusting lie. because pat tillman died at the hands of his own troops and how that occurred is something that's still unknown. because they burned all the evidence at the time, claiming it was a biohazard, which is
actually not true. i looked it up because i had all of these people email me after i wrote about it saying, you don't understand military law, man, they had to burn the evidence. it's like, great. [laughter] dave: love the laptop commandos with their -- you know. [laughter] dave: but what makes the story so just like relentlessly disgusting was the fact that pat tillman's parents were not told that he died in this matter. pat tillman's brother, who was in his platoon, who he went to the rangers with, was not told. and they were left at the funeral, basically being used as props. so people ask, what did pat tillman actually die for? in the literal sense, he died for p.r. for this war. and it's not a coincidence that they needed to sell his death as heroic because it came out the same week as abu ghraib and the scandal. they needed the story, they needed the hero and they needed someone in pat tillman, who couldn't turn them down as he did when he was a live soldier. and say, i'm not going to do your ads, whether you agree or
disagree with what pat tillman did, the point is that they ruthlessly exploited him in death. and his parents after they heard this, they're very quiet, conservative people. they're a divorced couple. they spoke out jointly about this. they condemned bush, they condemned the war. they condemned just the entire charade that their family was put through. and then they immediately got quiet again. i was hoping that they would use that as an opportunity. but two things happened that i thought were a shame. one was that because the story really did get relegated to the sports section, you didn't see like the anti-war movement, the left actually go to the tillmans and be like, let's get your story out there. let's talk about it, because it exposes how sick the system is. which is something i would argue should have happened. and the second thing, but what i'm hoping now, with what cindy sheehan is doing, that it's going to give confidence and courage, not just to the tillmans, but to everybody who has lost a family member in this disgusting war. and that includes iraqis as
well, to actually get out and have their story heard. [applause] dave: one more question. >> i wanted to ask you about well, say something about john roberts for a second. because one of the things that this moderate, apparently very palatable supreme court justice talked about is being against title ix. and i was wondering if you could talk for a minute about what title ix has meant in this nation for women's sports. and like -- maybe what it would look like if somebody was that opposed. just --ah, i mean first i mean title ix, it speaks to me. i have a 12-month-old daughter right now. so when i hear about them overturning title ix, doing women's rights work was one of the first political things i ever did in college. but now that i have a daughter, i'm kind of like -- wow, this shit just got personal, what are you doing? [laughter] dave: before title ix was
enacted, roughly one out of -- well let me put it this way. right now, one out of every three women/girls in the united states take part in sports on the junior high or high school level. one out of three. before title ix? it was one out of 27. you're talking about a radical, radical difference in the lives of women because of this legislation. and if you look at it statisticsically, issues about, with regards to self-esteem, likelihood of being in an abusive relationship. likelihood of having an eating disorder, these things can be connected with sports. and this to me, with all that's disgusting about sports, speaks to what's good about sports. because obviously people get something productive out of it that does something positive in their lives, if it can produce those results. and this is what john roberts wants to destroy. and actually what george bush wants to destroy as well. now why do they want to destroy it? i think they want it destroy it, not because they dislike watching the yukon women's hoops team.
they want it destroy it for the -- they want to destroy it for the same reason that they want to overturn roe versus wade. they want to destroy it for the same reason that they're actually trying to roll back everything that a previous generation, ali's generation, won in the streets. and i think for that reason alone it's worth fighting for. but it's also worth fighting for because it represents an attack on all of us. nobody benefits. and they trot out all of this garbage about it. oh, it's just funding teams that don't need to be there. look at the men's crew team, they had to be eliminated. look at the men's wrestling team. just two facts for people to leave with. one, is that the number one budget-eater in all of college sports, is football. men's football. the budget for men's football destroys athletic budgets. and men's football is like a lottery. if you roll out a team and you happen to go 11-1, you're going to make millions and millions. if you roll out a team and you're 4-7, you just created a sieve and your budget is destroyed. and they invest in the chance of
reaping that kind of money. that is one thing. the second thing is that there's no record anywhere, any time in history, in history, of a woman's team being funded and then rolling out the balls, the coach comes out with the whistle and nobody shows up. that's never happened. it shows time and again, if you give people, if you give women the opportunity to actually practice athletic arts, practice the kind of freedom of expression with sports, they will grab that time and again. dave: oh. >> you want to wrap up? dave: i get a rapid. -- wrap up. my child needs shoes. no. i'm just kidding. i mean, i'll just say quickly, the most rewarding thing about doing this book, by a mile, has been people who have come up to me and said, like, hey, i was never able to have a political discussion with my dad before.
or with my daughter before. with my son before. but i gave them this book and they actually read it. and now we're -- now they're like, hey, i didn't know this about ali. i didn't know this about billie jean king. and then all of a sudden, i realize i'm talking about the civil rights with my dad. i'm talking about anti-racism with my dad. and it's like, if you can use sports as a way to actually talk to people, i think we live in a country where politics is a dirty word. it's a bad thing at my job if you're a political, to be political. and i think that's because people view politics as what the two ugly white guys with the bad haircuts do on c-span. and not politics as what we live and breathe every single day. and that is politics, politics are an art. politics are in culture and politics are in sports. and we should not like, walk away from that political arena. we should jump in with two feet. have out the fights and get a new generation of people missed -- pissed off at the system and not have them burn up the cars after syracuse wins the championship. but go out and raise some hell