Richard e Hill - a Writer's Journal

Gold, Olympics and Cinderella

Gold, Olympics and Cinderella

 

Fame, the glass slipper lost when time passes thru Fate’s hourglass. The charming conniving demagogues of commerce will not chase the mouse drawn pumpkin to woo anew ---- instead pursuing the well turned ankle of an attractive fresh arrival or someone with a longer curfew to trip the light fantastic while bestowing treasure laden tribute.  Fame though often rewarding is a starter’s pistol shot from inevitable demise leaving chroniclers to compare erstwhile champions with present. Such comparisons are useless fodder for self serving debate on barstools or media settings.

 

Why? The parameters of sports constantly evolve as equipment, playing surfaces, rules, training regimen and of course performance enhancers are injected (pun intended) into the discussion.

 

Even transient fame is parceled unevenly ---- enter Jesse Owens, considered by many as the greatest Olympian ever as none endured the obstacles Owens had to hurdle (I can’t resist a chance for a pun). The star of the politicized 1936 Berlin Olympics was unjustly denied the acclaim due. Beginning in college at Ohio State University where he was not awarded a scholarship because Ohio State at the time did not give athletic scholarships to Blacks.  Owens did not receive on campus housing because Ohio State did not grant on campus housing to Blacks. Owens had to work to pay for his tuition and housing.  The 1936 Olympics highlighted, buried and propagandized these injustices still unknown to most.

 

The Adolph Hitler alleged snub is also misrepresented. This is not intended to defend Hitler, a drek stain on the annals of Civilization ---- the genetics experiments imposed during the twentieth century Holocaust were a repeat of the 1890s travesties imposed upon Blacks in Africa. Hitler was banned by the Olympic governing body from shaking hands and congratulating ANYONE after he had been previously congratulating German athletes only. Historians differ on the opinion whether Hitler was even present during any or all of Owens’ accomplishments. (He was a little preoccupied with plans for world dominance at the time.)

 

Noteworthy, Owens was permitted to stay in the same hotel as White Olympians, something he could not do in the USA. Owens had to use the freight elevator in the rear of the hotel to attend his own reception in New York.  By the way, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, FDR in the second of his four elected terms in 1936 did not invite Jesse Owens to the White House or shake his hand either.

 

While giving belated recognition, let’s not overlook some of the notables that finished second to Owens beginning with Ralph Metcalfe, who became a Chicago Alderman and US Congressman (my late father ran track against Metcalfe); UCLA legend Mack Robinson, the older brother of UCLA four sports star, baseball icon Jackie Robinson; and Lutz Long. WHO? Lutz Long was an Olympic long jumper who befriended Jesse Owens, giving him the tip that prevented Owens from committing the foul that would have led to elimination as he had fouled before. Ironically Jesse defeated Lutz and took the long jump Gold as Lutz then took Silver. Lutz Long was a member of the German Olympic team.  Another notable was NFL pioneer Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard, who took Bronze in the high hurdles.

 

Was Nazi superiority debunked?  Germany took 89 officially sanctioned medals (101 overall). The USA was second with 56 medals in 1936.

 

When pundits nostalgically recall the Berlin Olympics, it is real “feel good” patriotic story ---- if you omit the indignations suffered by Jesse Owens and the propaganda. 


 
 
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