During the 20th century, sports had a profound impact on shaping how Americans viewed the concept of racial equality. This nonfiction film offers a 45-minute conversation on the subject, with Dave Zirin, the sports editor for The Nation, being interviewed by Sut Jhally, a professor at the University of Massachusetts.
Sadly, Jhally throws out (pardon the pun) softball questions at Zirin, who speaks at great length on athletic achievements that everyone is very familiar with: Jack Johnson’s controversial reign as boxing champion, Jesse Owens and Joe Louis demolishing the myth of Nazi-Aryan physical superiority, Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color line, and Muhammad Ali’s challenge to the Vietnam War draft.
However, Zirin inexplicably ignores Doug Williams’ achievement as the quarterback for the Washington Redskins in 1988’s Super Bowl XXII, nor does he mention the landmark achievements of Althea Gibson and Wilma Rudolph (female athletes get less than three minutes of conversation). Brief mention is given to Latino baseball stars and to basketball’s Jeremy Lin, but American Indian athletes including Jim Thorpe and Billy Mills are omitted.
Zirin’s sloppy scholarship, not to mention his humorless and droning screen presence, makes this presentation a baffling bore.