It was a year in sports best remembered for a scandalous protest and an outrageous guarantee.
Standing on the top step of the medal stand in Mexico City, American sprinter Tommie Smith wore his Olympic gold medal around his neck and a black glove on his upraised, clenched right fist as the U.S. national anthem continued. On the step below, John Carlos wore his bronze medal and a black glove on his upraised, clenched left fist. His head was down, too. It was a protest, a statement that, at least in their judgment, their nation still wasn't the land of the free. Not everyone and not everywhere, at least.
The gesture became the enduring, defining image of the '68 Games for many Americans, more so than Bob Beamon's stunning 29-foot, 2 1/2-inch leap in the long jump that shattered the world record, or Peggy Fleming's magical gold medal performance at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. Overshadowed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, events in the sporting world in 1968 paralleled the changes occurring in American society at large, as Terry Frei carefully weaves the interplay of both in this timely look back a tumultuous time.
Terry Frei is a Denver-based journalist, novelist, historian, screenwriter and affiliate professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Frei is in his second stint at The Denver Post and has been named a state's sportswriter of the year six times -- three times in Colorado and three times
in Oregon. He also has written for the (Denver) Rocky Mountain News, the Portland Oregonian and The Sporting News. Terry’s books include Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming: Texas vs. Arkansas In Dixie’s Last Stand; Third Down and a War to Go; March 1939: Before the Madness; and ’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age.