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CAUSE FOR ALARM
There appears to be a dim possibility, and it is only that, that some of the far-out leaders of the civil rights movement may call on Negro athletes to boycott the 1968 Olympics. The possibility arose when Tommie Smith, American Negro sprinter, was interviewed by Japanese journalists—with no Western newsmen present—during Tokyo's recent World University Games. Asked about the racial situation in the U.S., Smith—who attends San Jose State and holds nine world records—pithily described it as "lousy," then went on to say:
"Depending upon the situation, you cannot rule out the possibility that we Negro athletes might boycott the games in Mexico. Just this morning I was talking with my friend Charlie Craig [Negro triple jumper] about this problem."
Later Smith vehemently denied that he was advocating a boycott, and said he was merely suggesting the possibility.
But Jim Fowler, white leader of the U.S. delegation to the University Games, declared that the possibility was "a very real one."
"Certainly," he said, "some of the Negro leaders may be thinking along these lines. Another difficult hot summer and more problems in some of the big cities and they might see an Olympic boycott as a strong piece of propaganda."
And Madeline Manning, a 19-year-old sociology major at Tennessee State and one of the world's best women at 800 meters, reflected soberly: "It would be very difficult to refuse if our people asked this of us."
So it could conceivably happen. And if it does, it will be a disappointment to sportsmen all over the world. It would be a disappointment especially to millions of Americans, many of whom would blame it all on civil rights extremists. For the athlete, a decision to boycott the Olympics would mean giving up a lifelong dream. It would mean that all the sacrifices, the long hours of training, the pain, had been for nothing. It would mean, too, and some Olympic prospects would justify themselves in this way, that the athlete put certain values higher than U.S. success or his own participation in the Olympic Games. It would be his way of saying, "I care enough to do something."
REQUIEM FOR A CHAMPION
After he rode the 8-year-old California champion Native Diver to victory in the Del Mar Handicap on Labor Day, Jockey Jerry Lambert said: "He's just too much. I hope he never dies. You know, he might be getting old at that, though. He wanted to go home to his barn instead of going back to the winner's circle, and I had to coax him a little bit to get him to go there."