David Zirin of the Edge of Sports visits Towson University

The voice and mind behind “The Edge of Sports” radio and blog, David Zirin, gave a lecture at Towson University March 30 to a room full of students and faculty.

Zirin also published the book A People’s History of Sports in the United States in 2008 and it covers 250 years of politics, protests and people in the United States surrounding sports and games.

Zirin’s life growing up was centered on sports, so his current lifestyle is no surprise.

“Sports were my whole life, we are talking total sports geekdom. I used to memorize statistics, play strategic baseball–you know before computers–but that’s what we did; geek out on sports,” said Zirin.

Zirin joked with the full lecture hall about the different sports he played growing up.

“I was obsessed with sports and played everything. I was starting center for my basketball team but we sucked; it wasn’t pretty. We were the Friends Seminary Fighting Quakers–gives you an idea of what we were about,” said Zirin.

“I played every sport other than golf which I don’t view as a real sport because I don’t see anything where you can play while smoking and gaining weight as a real sport.”

An incident in 1996 drove Zirin to write his history of sports when it woke him up to the history behind our country and the sports games we play.

“I absolutely love sports and I never thought about how politics played into it, never gave it one thought in my entire life,” said Zirin. “That changed for me back in 1996…I used to never pay attention to the front page of the paper until an incident in the sporting world starting creeping its way onto the front page.”

NBA player for the Vancouver Grizzlies, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf–born Chris Jackson–didn’t come out for the national anthem, and when asked by a reporter, Rauf basically said nationalism and sports did not mix, that the two were signs of oppression and conflict with his beliefs.

After this incident, Zirin tried to find traditions and resources in history but couldn’t find much.

“That’s why I wrote my book. I learned that history was a lot grittier and much more ragged than you’d think.”

Zirin also wrote What’s my Name,Fool? and Welcome to the Terrordome as well as writing weekly columns on his blog, “Edge of Sports.”

“Using sports as a way to teach history in racism and gender is a great way to reach people,” said Zirin. “Knowing history is empowering–you can stand on the shoulders of giants and move forward.”

Learning history of any topic is smart.

But for those of you interested in sports–as I am sure you are since you are visiting this site–learning sports history is also important so that you can also help change the future in sports.

Look for future blog posts featured on this lecture given by Zirin based on current and past events in sports so you can learn more about what this “sports geek” has to teach.

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