The Chatter Podcast: The Olympics, Politics, and Security with Ethan Scheiner

By David Priess
Thursday, February 3, 2022, 10:20 AM

This week, I speak with professor and writer Ethan Scheiner about the history of the Olympic games, the many political controversies in and around the games since 1896, and the security challenges they present. A professor of political science at the University of California, Davis who has specialized in Japanese politics and democratic representation in party systems, Scheiner has focused his recent research, teaching, and writing on the intersection of sports--from hockey to gymnastics to basketball--with both international and domestic politics.

In this extended conversation, we discussed the origins and evolution of the modern Olympic games, early athletes' protests against competing under imperial flags, the dramatic 1936 games in Berlin, international sports competition as a Cold War battleground, Olympic boycotts and near-boycotts, controversies surrounding the 1968 games in Mexico City, the security debacle at the 1972 Munich Olympics, athletes' growing comfort in recent decades with taking political stands, and much more.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo.

Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Among the works cited in this episode are:

Democracy without Competition in Japan: Opposition Failure in a One-Party Dominant State, by Ethan Scheiner

Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Germany, by Andrew Marinness

"How a Hockey Game Powered a Revolution" by Ethan Scheiner, Washington Post, February 12, 2018

"The Silent Protest During a National Anthem That Made Americans Cheer" by Ethan Scheiner, Politico, September 5, 2018