In Monday’s LA Times, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
wrote a must-read piece about the history of Olympic boycotting comparing the 1968 Olympics to today’s boycott talks of the 2008 Beijing Olympics some 40 years later.
Kareem says best what PreraceJitters.com has been trying to express for months now on this website. The games are in Beijing at this point, and it is best to engage China rather than isolate them. The United States should use this opportunity to build a bridge to improve life for Chinese citizens and the lives of those whom Chinese policies affect.
The Basketball Hall of Fame member best writes about the struggle of African Americans at the time of 1968 Olympics in Mexico City—which coincided with the height of the Vietnam War. Instead of a total boycott of the Mexico City Games, a compromise was made that resulted in the salute for black poverty at the medal ceremony by Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
Abdul-Jabbar writes, “The more we talk with each other, the more we understand each other and can reach compromises that will benefit the lives of those we are trying to help. Jackie Robinson once said that the great thing about athletics is that ‘you learn to act democracy, not just talk it.’ That's what our athletes will demonstrate to the 1 billion Chinese who may be watching.”
Kareem also went on to say that “a second means of influencing the Chinese is through globalization, in which we share products, entertainment, and culture with others—and they share theirs with us—in order to break down the barriers that make us fear each other's differences.”
By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist.