Long & Short Of It

Protesting A Protest? Not So Fast

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) receives input from their own Council on Racial and Social Justice. With an eye to the upcoming year-delayed Tokyo Olympics, ‘acceptable demonstration’ is, not that it ever wasn’t, a highly relevant topic.

Backtrack to 1968 when USA Gold Medalist Tommie Smith raised his clenched black fist during the playing of the national anthem, demonstrating for a cause is far from new. Still controversial over 50 years later? Yes. As controversial in 2021 as it was in 1968? I’d say No (my life has spanned both years). It’s less controversial nowadays. That’s a good thing, that’s progress, in my view.

USOPC has determined that raising a fist or kneeling is permissible later this year in Tokyo. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) will soon set their own parameters of ‘acceptable demonstration’. I’m proud that my home country is the one leading and not following in this matter.

Tommie Smith a few years back received the Dresden Peace Prize for his gesture during the 19th Olympiad. Tommie said from the get-go he bowed his head in reverence to his national anthem, his country. What does this tell you? Judging someone on a mutually exclusive basis (because he/she did this, then it means that) will more often than not lead one to a wrong, faulty conclusion. Judge less. Listen and converse more.

- 5 toasts