Greatest Moment in the History of Sports
2008 TMAC2 Sporting News King of Blogging
I wanted to update this story. I took home first prize in the blog competition. Thanks to TMAC2 and all of the other competitors.
There are so many moments to choose from “Do you believe in Miracles?” to Joe Namath’s Super Bowl Guarantee to “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” to Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary to NC State’s upset over Houston to Cassius Clay’s beating Sonny Liston as he ”shook up the world”. My own personal moment was the 2004 Boston Red Sox title run.
However, one moment stands out to me because the athletic prowess meant so much more than simply one man outperforming his peers. The moment was the 1936 Olympics. The man was Jesse Owens. The impact was felt around the globe.
To get the full picture, one needs to be in tune with the global climate in 1936. Nazi Germany was in the beginning stages with Adolph Hitler proclaiming the Aryan race (of northern European descent) to be the “master race”. With the 1936 Olympics set in Germany, Hitler had the opportunity to prove his doctrine to the world. What he didn’t expect was to be embarrased by an American. Not just any American though. Jesse Owens was the Grandson of slaves. He took home four Gold Medals that day winning the 100 meter, 200 meter, long jump and the 4×100 relay.
Unfortunately, Owens’ Olympic success didn’t dramatically change the race relations in America when he returned home. He is quoted as saying “When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn’t live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either.” In fact he never even received a telegram from FDR. According to Owens ”Hitler didn’t snub me—it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”
Years later Jackie Robinson (whose brother Mack Robinson ironically won Silver in the 200 meters behind Owens) would go on to break baseball’s color barrier, but Jesse Owens helped set that stage with his performance. Two of the staples of great sports moments are sheer dominance over your competition and overcoming long odds and adversity, and Jesse Owens set the standard for those two staples.