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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon