Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine – by David Shields

Body Politic Cover image

It’s hard for an author to be critical and controversial about a topic without making the reader hate it afterwards – but for David Shields, he manages to do it flawlessly in Body Politic.

In less than 200 pages, Shields takes you on an analytical tour of the way that sport integrates into contemporary America that will put you face to face with its shortcomings, but should ultimately leave you loving its grand folly.

Using what at times seems a stream of consciousness approach to the vast empire that is organized spots, Shields ultimately brings together a range of topics, including Ichiro, rooting for the underdog, and Charles Barkley that form the larger fabric of modern American culture – race, money, and celebrity.

This is a very intelligent book – not because it’s full of big words, or because Shields uses formulas and calculations to state his case. Rather, it challenges the brain to see the similarities and repetitiveness in sport, to discuss it thoroughly yet economically and without beating it to death.

Sports has become a vehicle on which so many other societal issues can be imposed – it is criticized to no end, but also looked to as the leader for how we as a society should behave. Body Politic calls the mythology and grandiose nature of sports on the carpet in a way that will leave you shaking your head but with a smile on your face.

Read it.

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