A useful primer on the ever shifting playing field of sports and race.

An overview of Black athletes’ recent history of protest.

The Trump era has been an especially divisive one for Black athletes speaking out on social justice issues. NBA players now have more opportunities to use their platform to protest police killings and vocally participate in the Black Lives Matter movement, but Colin Kaepernick remains frozen out of the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters have routinely strived to shout the athletes down. (“Shut up and dribble,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham infamously chastised NBA star LeBron James.) Anderson, a business consultant and professor at Loyola Marymount University, recaps a half-century of shifts around Black athlete protests. Outspoken Black athletes weren’t hard to find before the 1980s, from Arthur Ashe to Muhammad Ali. But the arrival of superstars with hefty endorsement deals made apparel companies—and the athletes they sponsored—averse to social commentary, and some were bluntly punished for it. “Black athletes have expressed their discontent with issues such as police brutality, inequality, racism, lynching, and systematic oppression, only to be met with opposition,” writes the author. In 1996, NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was indefinitely suspended after sitting out the national anthem in protest. The mood shifted, Anderson explains, once the outrages became too big to ignore, such as Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 and virulently racist remarks caught on tape by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014. The author’s discussion of how these incidents ushered in a new era of protest, accelerated further by the Black Lives Matter movement, is workmanlike, but his closing chapter thoughtfully explores how recent trends can fuel a “sport justice movement” that addresses pro teams’ relationships with police, equitable treatment of college players, and players’ deeper engagement with their communities. Former NBA veteran Len Elmore, also a longtime sportscaster and lawyer, provides the foreword.

A useful primer on the ever shifting playing field of sports and race.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781538153246

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022


For those satisfied with blame-the-victim tidbits of received wisdom.

The noted conservative economist delivers arguments both fiscal and political against social justice initiatives such as welfare and a federal minimum wage.

A Black scholar who has lived through many civil rights struggles, Sowell is also a follower of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who insisted that free market solutions are available for every social problem. This short book begins with what amounts to an impatient declaration that life isn’t fair. Some nations are wealthy because of geographical advantages, and some people are wealthy because they’re smarter than others. “Some social justice advocates may implicitly assume that various groups have similar developed capabilities, so that different outcomes appear puzzling,” he writes. In doing so, he argues, they fail to distinguish between equal opportunity and equal capability. Sowell is dismissive of claims that Black Americans and other minorities are systematically denied a level playing field: Put non-white kids in charter schools, he urges, and presto, their math scores will zoom northward as compared to those in public schools. “These are huge disparities within the same groups, so that neither race nor racism can account for these huge differences,” he writes, clearly at pains to distance himself from the faintest suggestion that race has anything to do with success or failure in America. At the same time, he isn’t exactly comfortable with the idea that economic inequalities exist, and he tries to finesse definitions to suit his convictions: “The terms ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ are misleading in another and more fundamental sense. These terms apply to people’s stock of wealth, not their flows of income.” As for crime? Give criminals more rights, he asserts, as with Miranda v. Arizona, and crime rates go up—an assertion that overlooks numerous other variables but fits Sowell’s ideological slant.

For those satisfied with blame-the-victim tidbits of received wisdom.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9781541603929

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023


Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

The Chicago Bulls stalwart tells all—and then some.

Hall of Famer Pippen opens with a long complaint: Yes, he’s a legend, but he got short shrift in the ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Bulls, The Last Dance. Given that Jordan emerges as someone not quite friend enough to qualify as a frenemy, even though teammates for many years, the maltreatment is understandable. This book, Pippen allows, is his retort to a man who “was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.” Coming from a hardscrabble little town in Arkansas and playing for a small college, Pippen enjoyed an unlikely rise to NBA stardom. He played alongside and against some of the greats, of whom he writes appreciatively (even Jordan). Readers will gain insight into the lives of characters such as Dennis Rodman, who “possessed an unbelievable basketball IQ,” and into the behind-the-scenes work that led to the Bulls dynasty, which ended only because, Pippen charges, the team’s management was so inept. Looking back on his early years, Pippen advocates paying college athletes. “Don’t give me any of that holier-than-thou student-athlete nonsense,” he writes. “These young men—and women—are athletes first, not students, and make up the labor that generates fortunes for their schools. They are, for lack of a better term, slaves.” The author also writes evenhandedly of the world outside basketball: “No matter how many championships I have won, and millions I have earned, I never forget the color of my skin and that some people in this world hate me just because of that.” Overall, the memoir is closely observed and uncommonly modest, given Pippen’s many successes, and it moves as swiftly as a playoff game.

Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982165-19-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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