The Olympics and Muhammad Ali (fwd)

Fri, 9 Aug 1996 13:15:58 -0400

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Date: Thu, 8 Aug 1996 08:58:38 -0400
From: Juan Jewell <>
Subject: The Olympics and Muhammad Ali

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Subject: The Olympics and Muhammad Ali

Does anyone know who came up with the idea of having Muhammad Ali light
the Olympic cauldron? His role in this thing strikes me as an
interesting symbol of something that has happened in this country since
the 60's.

My family and I were in Atlanta during the first few days of the games,
and we watched the torch go by the Morehouse University campus. I was
struck by the enthusiasm of the predominantly African-American crowd, and
I could not help but recall Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal
stand in Mexico City in 1968. When I heard that it was Ali who lit the
cauldron I had this vague recollection of his throwing his gold medal
into a river, and I remembered his simple statement, "I ain't got no
quarrel with no Viet Cong." And then there was the repeated spectacle of
the track athletes literally wrapping themselves in the flag.

The night before we went to Morehouse, we hung out with some friends waiting
for the torch to go through something of a neo-hippie/pseudo-punk area in
Atlanta, and we saw several young protestors, some of whom even spelled
the slogans on their signs correctly. On an intellectual level, I could
agree with much of their critique of the games. On another level,
however, I wondered if that is what many of us looked like 28 years ago.
Have we become our parents, and our children become us?

Clearly, we aren't in 1968 anymore, and that isn't necessarily all bad.
But I would be interested in thoughts on how we got from the Mexico City
Olympics to the Atlanta Olympics. What has changed, and when, and how,
and why?

Juan Jewell The Sidwell Friends School Washington, DC

"Taking care of the little things takes care of the big things."
-Walt Hazzard