Littlefield: ‘The Heritage’ Offers Incisive Look At Politics, Patriotism And Activism In Sports

“They were all in on it: NASCAR, MLB, the NBA, the NFL, NHL, MLS, and the NCAA. The military was using sports to sell the business of war,” Howard Bryant writes. Pictured: Fighter jets fly over Raymond James Stadium just prior to the start of a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns. (J. Meric/Getty Images)

Among the many powerful and thought-provoking contentions in Howard Bryant’s new book is this: “They were all in on it: NASCAR, MLB, the NBA, the NFL, NHL, MLS, and the NCAA. The military was using sports to sell the business of war.”

A lot of books having to do with sports are predictable. Bryant’s book, “The Heritage,” is not. His concern is with a responsibility he feels the most successful minority athletes must embrace. Their challenge, as Bryant sees it, is to pass along to their younger counterparts “the heritage,” a sense of the tradition represented by such activists as Jackie Robinson, Tommy Smith, John Carlos, Muhammad Ali and, more recently, Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, among others.

One triumph of Bryant’s contention is his recognition that none of the carriers of the heritage is perfect. One of Jackie Robinson’s missteps, which he acknowledged and came to regret, was helping…

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