Flags. The Games of 1908 were perhaps the sourest of all. Apparently, the trouble began when the U.S. team arrived at the stadium in London, gazed around and realized that among all the flags on display, Old Glory was nowhere to be seen. The Americans protested. The British explained that they simply had not been able to turn up a Stars and Stripes suitable for flying at the stadium—an excuse the Americans found unacceptable. When the opening parade began, Ralph Rose, a shotputter, was leading the U.S. team, carrying an American flag. Flag-bearers from all other nations obeyed the protocol of the day by dipping their banners in tribute to the head of state, King Edward VII, as they passed his seat of honor. Not the American. The burly, hot-tempered Rose muttered, "This flag dips to no earthly king." The crowd gasped, but Rose held his flag erect when he stomped past the king.
The American flag has never again been dipped in honor to a foreign head of state. At Mexico City in 1968, Harold Connolly, the veteran hammer thrower, was asked by the USOC to carry the flag in the opening parade. Connolly replied, "I'd be honored, but I may as well tell you, I am going to dip it when I pass the President of Mexico."
Harold Connolly did not carry the flag that day.
Black Gloves. The gloves of the little Frenchman went all but unnoticed. Not those of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished one-three in the 200-meter dash in Mexico City. Standing on the victory steps for The Star-Spangled Banner, they bowed their heads and each held a clenched fist in a black glove aloft, in symbolic protest of the black man's plight. "They were both supposed to have a full pair of gloves," said Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who finished second, "but Carlos forgot his. Smith was loath to give one up but John begged him and finally Tommie gave him one glove."
TECHNOLOGY IS THE ATHLETE'S FRIEND
In 1896, a swimmer named Gardner Williams traveled to Athens with the Boston Athletic Association team. He was a magnificent athlete who had won many sprints in American pools and he was properly confident he would win the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle, which was to be held in the Bay of Zea in the Mediterranean. Thomas Curtis was there to record Gardner Williams' quest for glory: "He had traveled 5,000 miles for this event, and as he poised with the others on the edge of the float, waiting for the gun, his spirit thrilled with patriotism and determination. At the crack of the pistol, the contestants dived head first into the icy water. In a split second his head reappeared. 'Jesu Christo! I'm freezing!' he cried. With that shriek of astonished frenzy he lashed back to the float. For him the Olympics were over."
According to the organizers of the XXth Olympiad, at Munich there will be "a small warming-up pool where competitors can get used to the water temperature (26� and 27� Centigrade) of the competition pool before the start."
A SAMPLER OF DIVERSE QUOTATIONS DEFINING THE OLYMPIC GAMES
In 1936, a Belgian nobleman, Count Henri de Baillet-Latour, was president of the International Olympic Committee. He was concerned that Adolf Hitler was going to turn the Berlin Games into a political, carnival for the Nazis. "The Olympic Games are not held in Berlin, in Los Angeles or in Amsterdam," the count lectured the F�hrer. "When the five-circled Olympic flag is raised over the stadium, it becomes sacred Olympic territory and theoretically, and for all practical purposes, the Games are held in ancient Olympia. There, I am the master." The reply of the Chancellor of the Third Reich to the Master of Ancient Olympia was never recorded.
Harry Edwards is an assistant professor of sociology at Berkeley. In 1967, he spearheaded a movement among U.S. blacks to boycott the Mexico City Olympics. Ultimately the effort faltered, but Harry Edwards goes on, an outspoken critic of the Games. He said, "Sports and war are born from man's same needs. The same training, the same drive works for both. The same rituals prevail—anthems, martial music, prayers for victory, medals for heroes. The same organized structures that support war also support the Olympic Games; nationalists and politicians, hymn singers, American Legion Neanderthals. The Olympics as an ideal of brotherhood and world peace is pass�. The Olympics is obviously so hypocritical that even the Neanderthals watching TV know what they're seeing cannot be true. With access to total information instantly on TV, even the Neanderthals know that the Russians stomped the Czechs and that the Arabs despise the Jews and that racists rule the world. So, all of a sudden, the Olympic Games come on TV with all the smiles and handshakes, and even the Neanderthal sits up and says, 'Hey, what the hell? All year I watch nothin' but hate on TV, now they come on with a big love feast. It's gotta be phony. The Olympics gotta be a put-on, man.' "