Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Race: Jesse Owens

Work in groups:

1. Do you like the Olympic Games? What sports do you like following and why?

2. What sports do you think your country is strongest at?

3. Are the Olympics an event for sports or is politics important as well?

4. What's your opinion about doping? What should the consequences to the athlete be?

5. Read the passage about Jesse Owens, Are sports and politics connected in his case? What lessons can we learn from that event?

Jesse Owens was an extremely important athlete. He participated in the Berlin Olympics. Interestingly, through 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler intended to showcase the Nazi German domination and power. Nazi propaganda created hype about alleged ‘Aryan racial superiority’. However, Owens, changed this perception by winning four gold medals.

He participated in four events at the Berlin Olympics, winning each of them. While at the 100m sprint he created a world record at 10.3 seconds, in the long jump with a leap of 8.05 m, he became the No. 1 player. He also won 200 m (20.7 seconds), and 4x100 m relay (39.8s).

Unlike earlier when he had to lodge in at ‘black-only’ hotels and eat at ‘black-only’ restaurants, the victory at the Berlin Olympics changed the perception of people as he was allowed to stay at the same hotel with other White athletes or eat at the same joint. He was also offered a sponsorship by Adidas athletic shoe company for promoting the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes.

Owens was not honoured by the then President Franklin Roosevelt who neither invited him to the White House as was atypical for champions, nor congratulated him for the superlative success. It was only in 1955 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower honoured him by naming him an ‘Ambassador of Sports’.

6. Watch the movie segment and talk about the importance of his act, the reaction of the other athletes and the population.


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