Zirin Podcast: 'Imperialist' U.S. to Host '26 World Cup; NFL Players are 'Kids in Concentration Camps'

June 24th, 2018 10:00 AM

This week's Edge of Sports podcast by radical leftist Dave Zirin could not have insulted more people. He likened NFL players to victims of the Holocaust and his guest accused the U.S., the world's greatest liberator of the oppressed, of "imperialism." The podcast is sponsored by The Nation, a far Left publication for which Zirin serves as the I-don't-stick-to-sports editor.

During the first half of the program, Zirin spoke with Jules Boykoff about the politics of international soccer. Boykoff is a former U.S. Olympic soccer player and now an academic at Pacific University who has written on the suppression of dissent and on the topic of global warming (he was cited in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth). Most of the remainder of the show featured Zirin reading his recent blog unbelievably calling NFL players "kids in concentration camps."

In conjunction with the 2018 World Cup underway in Russia, soccer's governing body, FIFA, awarded the 2026 World Cup to the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Most of the games are to be played on American turf, and Boykoff said President Donald Trump almost tripped up the North American bid to host the games:

"(T)he whole world knows how horrible he (Trump) is in terms of the America First program that he's pushing here. Trump stepped up and said that there'd be visa-free travel to the United States during the World Cup, which was in question given his awful policies around admittance to refugees and anyone really into the United States' immigration policy. So that actually kind of allowed folks some space to vote for the United Bid when they were questioning it before. But it wasn't enough for places like France, Belgium and Brazil. They all still went with Morocco."

"Which is being viewed in some quarters as a rebuke of Trump? Is that what I'm hearing?" Zirin asked, getting the answer he wanted from Boykoff—along with an unexpected rebuke of former President Barack Obama, too:

"I think so. I think it has to be seen as a rebuke of Trump. But I think the wider history of the United States, as you well know, it's not just Trump that's the problem here. We have a pretty brutal history of imperialism in this country and you don't have to travel too far to talk to people who know that history really well and up close and personal. So it goes well beyond President Trump. President Obama and his drone policy and you name it, back through history here."

Zirin then turned his attention to last month's announcement that the NFL will fine teams whose players don't show proper respect for the national anthem. Zirin's narrative came entirely from his June 13 blog on the topic. Rather than repeat the lengthy screed, here are some of his most despicable remarks:

"(W)e are seeing football—of all things—as a center of the rebellion against both our racist system of police violence and mass incarceration as well as resistance to Donald Trump. By taking knees during the anthem, the kids in the 'concentration camps' and the performers in the Adult Disneyland are doing more than showcasing a political resistance. They are brashly and boldly displaying an independence from what they are supposed to be doing.

"But for NFL owners ... it’s players refusing to be mere extensions of equipment on the field or robots advancing the ball."

By comparing free men earning millions of dollars for playing a game to the victims of the Holocaust, the shameless Zirin stands is light years beyond the pale.

Despite the league's overwhelming black player majority, Zirin claimed the NFL "is not in fact integrated. It’s segregated, with mostly black bodies taking all the risk, pain, and traumatic brain injury, while an almost entirely white ownership class reaps the rewards." Unlike those who were involuntarily imprisoned in death camps, NFL players voluntarily choose their career, and despite the physical risks are extremely well compensated.

Finally, Zirin rants that NFL owners aim to stop "the invasion of the real world—with all its racism, injustice, and creeping authoritarianism—into the sports world. If these owners have to be racist, unjust, and authoritarian to accomplish these aims, then so be it, irony be damned. This is the code red: The players are tasting independence as well as a sense of their own power, and that cannot be tolerated, no matter who is in the White House."