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Mar 27, 2008

Since this Summer will see the Olympics Hosted by China, a highly controversial choice due to the Human Rights violations that we all know is being committed both in-side China and out-side, in Tibet, I think it's proper to remind people of a few good things that can come of such an event. The prime example is the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Two of the heroes there were Jesse Owens and Lutz Long.

Jesse Owens 200 meter dasah start

It is important because if the world, including the US had boycotted those 1936 Olympics on account of the Human Rights Violations Hitler and his Minions committed before, during and after those Olympic Games, we would never have seen the picture above - Reproduction of photograph in "Die Olympischen Spiele, 1936" p.27, 1936."Jesse Owens at start of record breaking 200 meter race."- Jesse Owens would nopt have been a Olympic Gold Medalist on 100 and 200 meters sprint, 4x100 m relay nor would he have been the Olympic Gold Medalist in Long jump.

Jesse Owens himself credited the Long Jump Gold Medal to Lutz Long, his fiercest competitor and Olympic Silver Medalist, whom Owens claimed had helped him with his technique: "According to Owens, Long went to him and told him to try and jump from a spot several inches behind the line. Since Owens routinely made distances far greater than the minimum of 7.15m required to advance, Long surmised that Owens would be able to safely advance to the next round without risking another foul while trying to push for a greater distance.[...]"It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler... You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Lutz Long at that moment." —Jesse Owens on being advised and congratulated by Luz Long at the 1936 Summer Olympics."
Would that have been possible without the Summer Games of 1936? No.
Funnily enough, Jesse Owens' great-nephew Chris Owens is a member of the German basketball league team ALBA Berlin. Might it be that he is because his great-uncle once had the guts to befriend a German? We probably won't ever know, but I don't hold for implausible that this might be the case.
Let's remember people like Jesse Owens this summer, and do what Jimmy Carter didn't - separate Sports from Politics, as Jesse Owens pleaded with him:"A few months before his death, Owens had tried unsuccessfully to convince President Jimmy Carter not to boycott the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow, arguing that the Olympic ideal was to be a time-out from war and above politics."

Lutz Long (left) and Jesse Owens, Summer Olympics Berlin 1936

The Story of Jesse Owens and Lutz Long, apart from telling a story about an Olympic Gold Medalist who would not have been, had the Summer Olympics been boycotted, also shows that Sports is above and beyond Politics.

Yes, horrible things went on in Germany at the time. But a boycott would not have changed that. The Story of Long and Owens further show us that in the midst of horrible events friends can be made, tricks and tips can be shared for the betterment of people. Many Athletes going to the Summer Olympics in Bejing 2008 will only have one chance to be seen, be applauded by the world, will only have one chance to be an Olympian. For us not to be there and cheer them on is as much a betrayal of the Olympian Ideal as it would have been for Jesse Owens to refuse help from Lutz Long based on his nationality and the actions government of his country. Let's also remember that if Lutz Long had chosen not to help Jesse Owens on account of his skin-color, that too would have been a betrayal of the Olympian Ideal, and it would most likely have made Lutz Long a general Nobody in history, because there would have been no story to tell.

As a Human Rights Activist I see myself as obligated to try and find fairness and balance , look for when the human and the political collide and protect the human from political decisions that violates the rights of the Human. In this case I see the line between the Athletes and the Activists, and I stand firmly with the Athletes in their right to be sportsmen, not political pawns.

SoB

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Posted: Mar 27, 2008 6:44am

 

 
 
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