The outcome of a sporting event always means more to than a simple win or loss. If our team wins, we carry the glory, if our team loses, we feel the shame. It’s this emotional connection to sports that keeps them at the forefront of our lives and constantly on our mind. For years, we have seen our various sporting events as metaphors for world power or to sway political views. Here are four times in history when sports have represented more to the world than a simple loss or victory.
1. 1936 Olympics
Adolf Hitler was hosting the 1936 Olympic games in Germany hoping to use them as a showcase for Aryan superiority. Hitler was upset when Jesse Owens, an African American, took home four gold medals in his four respective track and field races. To this day, Jesse Owens’ victories represent one of the greatest blows to international racism viewed on a wide scale.
2. 1971 China Vs. U.S. Ping Pong
For over twenty years leading up to the famous China Vs. America Ping Pong match the U.S. had virtually no contact with China since 1949. China made a surprise offer to the U.S. team in 1971 to play a few exhibition games. China had plans to use this match as political propaganda for their citizens to show superiority over America. This exchange allowed for Americans to see China for what it really was at the time, opening up America’s eyes to the truth behind the Chinese people and paving the way for President Nixon’s trip in 1972.
3. 1995 Mandela Supports Rugby
After becoming president of post-apartheid Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela offered his support to South Africa’s rugby team. A team which at the time consisted of only whites and acted as a symbol of white dominance in South Africa and Black suppression. After Africa’s team, the Springboks won the championship Nelson hand delivered the trophy to the team’s white captain representing the African people’s ability to forgive, but never forget.
4. 1936 wrestling match
Another event from the 1936 Olympic games that may have held just as much fervor as Jesse Owen’s victory would be the defeat of the German wrestler, Wolfang Ehrl by a Jewish-Hungarian athlete, Karoly Karpati. The defeat happened with Adolf Hitler in attendance.
Contributed by Josh Schwartz