By Ken Reed
Andrew Maraniss’ first book, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South , was an in-depth, impactful look at the trials and tribulations of the first African-American basketball player in the SEC.
His second book, released in November, tells the tale of the first American basketball team to compete in the Olympics. The initial Olympic basketball tournament took place in Berlin, Germany, under the watchful eye of Adolph Hitler. The book is called Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Hitler’s Germany. It’s a powerful story that both adults and young readers will enjoy.
The 1936 Games are best known for Jesse Owens’ historic wins amidst the Hitler-driven racist and antisemetic atmosphere in Germany at the time. But the story of the first-ever Olympic basketball tournament — with basketball’s founder James Naismith in attendance — is also a compelling narrative about the rise and influence of Nazism during this time period.
Interestingly, the 1936 Olympic basketball tournament took place on outdoor courts, and the final was played in the rain, making mud an unlikely factor in the gold medal game. But ultimately, this is a story about much more than basketball. It’s a tale about how Hitler and his minions used the Olympic games as a public relations tool to spread Nazi propaganda. Maraniss raises the question of whether or not the Americans in general, and the basketball team in particular, should’ve even been participating in these Olympics, given the horrors that were already taking place in Germany at the time of the Games. It was a “sinister facade,” as Maraniss describes the scene in Berlin during the two weeks of the Olympics.
“In Adolph Hitler’s Berlin, all was not as it seemed,” writes Maraniss.
Games of Deception is an excellent sports book, but it’s also an important book about racism, antisemitism and the power of Nazi propaganda.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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