Final: Effects of Racism on Sports

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1 Final: Effects of Racism on Sports Victoria Eke Professor Unguast Final December 11, 2016 The effects of Racism in sports Throughout history you see and hear about the constant impact that racism had on people, their families, and their futures, but many people don't tie in the impact that racism had on sports and what it has caused African Americans, during this time athletes weren t only fighting for their right in their various sports but they were fighting for their freedom. In the 1936 Olympics, you saw many has African Americans soaring in Track and Field, but no one made a bigger impact on the future for African American athletes then Jesse Owens. For Jesse Owens running was more than winning although that year he won every single event he ran and as well has broken long lasting records. For Owens, running was a way of expressing himself, when Jesse was young he was told by his teacher that he was good at running, and when he heard this he was excited, because constantly hearing that he wasn t good at thing unsurprisingly that was also the year that the Olympics was held in Berlin, as well as the year of Hitler, who constantly sent snubs to Jesse Owens, not even congratulating him, many don't know that Jesse Owens was going to boycott the Olympics that year due to the increase in racism, he almost didn't run at the Olympics because of the impact racism had on him. you could call it the Nazi Olympics [1], because Hitler wouldn't allow the Jewish sprinters on the track team run. Racism; you would think that it stopped there, but you go on to the 1968 Olympics when 2 black sprinters stood on the podium and held up their fist essentially losing their medals, racism [2]. This is not all distant history, in 2015 a University of Missouri athlete refused to play, due to the killings of many African American men, and refused to play until justice for those families was served. As a Kinesiology major, and desire to become a physical therapist, knowing everything that can impact an athlete is vital, to helping them excel in their area of interest. An event as big as the Olympics is something that the whole world looks forward to, and when the star athletes decide they won't show up until they get treated as equal as any other American it stirs up some issues. A newspaper article from 1968 explains that without majority of the athletes from the United States coming they can't participate, and with United states usually dominating the 1 / 5

2 Olympics they weren't going to allow for this to happen. These black athletes decided they wanted to show the world that they are worth more than just using them to win, get work done, and abusing. This boycott was rooted in the attempted boycott by the infamous Jesse Owens, many didn't know this but Jesse Owens refused to run at the Berlin Olympics before being assured that he would be treated with the respect that he deserved. This newspaper was written to inform future black athletes and people around the world that didn't know what was going on that wasn't a good time for black folks, during this time they would go to lengths to make a difference and in this case it was boycotting the Olympic games. In the 60's the newspaper was popular, everyone read the newspaper. The athletes decided they would attend the Olympics but they refused to participate in the awarding ceremony, many of the black athletes that refused to boycott in the first place used this as an opportunity to replace the athletes in which decided to protest [3], which gave them a chance to look better unto white America. The author of this newspaper article, didn't necessarily relate to them black athletes in which he was writing about but he knew what the boycott what do to the results of the Olympics, in which was something America takes pride on. During this Olympic games, although the athletes decided to call off the boycott and participate, it didn't stop them from showing their Black Power Movement on the podium. 2 of the black sprinters who got 1st and 3rd place pumped their fist up in the air which got their medals revoked do to "racism" and "discrimination" towards white America. Throughout this article, the unspoken thoughts and words not said is clear to say that it hurts, every single day black people during this time had to be abused simply because their skin was a few shades darker. They were spit on, lied to, killed, and abused. This article wanted to show that they were good for more than just sports and working in cotton fields. Blacks throughout history has had to prove themselves human, and when blacks got into sports that s when many publicists would say that black s athleticism is inhumane which furthered the fight to be known and respected as a human. A quote from Harry Edwards a Professor from the University of California Berkeley said "What really is being said in a kind of underhanded way is that blacks are closer to beasts and animals in terms of their genetic and physical and anatomical make up than they are to the rest of humanity. And that's where the indignity comes in. When blacks hear, they can t they do whatever they can to prove they can, so when blacks could play in sports they thought that they would dominate in that area. Dennis Brutus from South Africa who was banned from events in South Africa for contesting against discrimination of races in sports in the 1960s during the exile. Dennis Brutus knew the impact that sports would have during the time of exile that was happening in South Africa. During this time in South Africa people of color were not allowed to vote, own land, live freely, allow their kids to go to decent schooling. [4] Education taught a lot of kids during this time how to serve/cater to the needs of white people. Brutus felt the need to be an activist during this time, but not a civil rights activist. He was a sports activist. Like earlier said, Brutus knew the impact that sports would have on South America, sports was a way of income as well as trade, and oil. During this time, there were many boycotts, because people of color were the ones producing oil, and in the middle of trade. For people who don t know Futbol (soccer) is Africa s sport. Of course, no one could stop people of color from playing sports freely, but people of color couldn t represent South Africa in 2 / 5

3 international and world competitions, and this is what Brutus was trying to fight against. Brutus was involved in SAFA (which is South African Sports Association). [5] SAFA decided that they would contest against the fact that people of color couldn t represent South Africa in their international sports in 1963, and Brutus was arrested for being involved. Brutus found a way to escape but when he was trying to get on a white only bus, they realized that it was him and the police shot him and left him bleeding, when the ambulance came and saw that he was colored they left him there bleeding on the streets. This action shows that people of color knew the impact that sports would have on the world, and they decided to use this as a platform to show that they are more than a slave, thief, or animal. [6] The attention that surrounded the case helped get the word out around the world. When the word got out South Africa got banned from the 1964 Olympics, as well as a lot of international events. Showing that no matter what measures were taken they weren t going to stop the discrimination that was happening in their sports. [7] This movement led, to many standing up against South Africa which essentially led to them allowing people of color to play in sports. Brutus used this situation to bring to light the way that people of color have been abused and discriminated against in sports. A few years after the fight in South Africa, there s another uprising in the 1968 Olympics which was held in New Mexico. Going back to using sports as their pedestal, two black men who appeared to be a part of the black power movement decided after a victory on the track to use their podium to air their support for the black power movement. The history behind this is Tommie Smith and John Carlos, like many underrepresented people of color saw this win as more than a gold and bronze medal, they saw this as an opportunity to show the inequality that has happened, was happening, and was going to happen. [8] Many people saw this gesture as a fleet, and disrespectful to the flag. Because of this they got kicked off the US Olympic team as well as got their medal stripped. [9] After this they got a lot of death threats. It amazed them that standing up for something so prominent during this time created more hate than support, but for them it was a way of expressing how they felt in America, which was pressed, mistreated, overlooked. In this picture, you see Tommie Smith with his arm raised high, you can see the pain he went through just to get there. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy was assassinated, their fists were up in respect for everyone who was taken for standing up in what they believed in. Standing up for human rights isn t just a black thing, or something you have to personally go through to stand up for. Peter Norman, is the invisible guy in this picture. Norman won silver that year for Australia, he was the one that came up with the whole idea, he gave Carlos and Smith the gloves, he even participated in this by wearing a badge that represented human rights, for this action he was not allowed to be a part of Australia s Olympic team. [10] In conclusion, although in many of these instances these activists were abused, tormented and even almost killed, it didn t stop them from using their platform as a voice to end discrimination. Unrepresented groups and people of color throughout history have always had to prove that they are humans and that they deserve respect, that skin color is just a small part of the bigger picture. During the 50 and 60s you see a lot discrimination and hatred towards people of color to the point 3 / 5

4 they weren t allowed to share the same water fountain because of their color. When playing sports, no matter if it s a team sport like soccer or an individual sport like track and field, you are representing more than yourself. You represent your family, friends, city even on the elite level you are representing your country. Being able to use your platform to express the way that you feel, and how you have been treated. When people use their platform as a place to advocate racism or discrimination, it isn t to change the country to pro-black, and no to whites but it s to show that being a minority in any country means, you got to fight that much harder to prove yourself and when you get there speaking on everything you ve been through to get there. [1] URI professor emeritus of history writes book about racism in the olympics. (2015, Jun 01). Professor Emeritus [2] Targeted News Service Retrieved from [3] U.N. ASKED TO ACT ON SOUTH AFRICA. (1970, Mar 24). New York Times (1923-Current File) [4] Axthelm, P. (1971, Apr 01). People are talking about: Sports: New scratch on athletics. Vogue, 157, , 163. Retrieved from [5] International Amateur Athletic Federation. [From Old Catalog]. (1914). pp,. Minutes and proposed rules adopted by the International amateur athletic federation held at Berlin, Germany, August 20-23, American sports publishing company. [6] Luschen, G. (1980). Sociology of Sport: Development, Present State, and Prospects. Annual Review of Sociology, 6(1 1), / 5

5 Powered by TCPDF ( Fall Matthew Unangst [7] GERALD, By C "Negroes Call Off Boycott, Reshape Olympic Protest."New York Times (1923-Current File), Sep 01, 2. [8] Cosgrove, Ben. The black power salute that rocked the 1968 Olympics [9] Luptick, Richard Brutus used sports to fight apartheid [10] Sacks, P. H. (2001, Feb 20). A man apart with apartheid vanquished, south African poet fights a global adversary. Telegram & Gazette Retrieved from 5 / 5

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