Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports

Can you tell ZNet, please, what Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports is about? What is it trying to communicate?


The book, published by Haymarket Books, is a look at how corporate interests have taken something beautiful — sports — and turned it into the “athletic industrial complex” — a sprawling, overly influential industry that has impacted all of our lives: like it or not. The title is a reference to the Louisiana Superdome, the homeless shelter of last resort in New Orleans: which was perhaps the most gruesome collision of the sports world and the real world that I have ever seen. It’s also a song by Public Enemy (Chuck D writes the intro) a hip hop group that has proven to be prophetic in its view that popular culture was careening out of control.


The book is not just about the “pain and politics” of sports, but the promise. I also highlight athlete rebels, fans, and coaches trying to use sports as an arena to project social justice and rebel against its corporate trappings.



Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?


The content comes from two years of interviews and charting the developments in the interaction of sports and politics. I interview everyone from 1960s era athletes and agitators like Jim Bouton and Dr. Harry Edwards to NBA player John Amaechi and death row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal (yes, a sports interview with Mumia). I also look at subjects like the Imus imbroglio, the treatment of Dominican minor league ball players, the NBA and hip hop, steroids, the Olympics, and the politics of soccer. Add some very diligent and talented editors and we had ourselves a book.



What are your hopes for the book? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? What would leave you happy about the whole undertaking? What would leave you wondering if it was worth all the time and effort?


I am incredibly proud of Welcome to the Terrordome. It’s been worth every second. The process was a blast and now — touring 30 cities to talk about the book — is pure gravy. That said, anyone who writes — except for maybe Salinger — wants to be read, wants her or his work debated and discussed and I certainly want the same. So I have high hopes. I want this book to be read by politicos who hate sports and sports fans who hate politics with the goal of having people see sports as a sphere of resistance: a place where there is a battle of ideas at play. I want the book to be a contribution toward a movement to tear down the terrordome.

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