The Summer Olympics were held in October to escape the searing heat of a Mexico City summer, but it was political heat that marked these games. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated in the previous months, and Mexican security forces had massacred hundreds of students that summer. In addition, several black athletes had threatened a boycott as a political statement. The 200-meter race was a classic, with Tommie Smith setting a world record. The medal ceremony could have been a mundane moment -- yet it was anything but, as Smith and bronze-medal winner John Carlos bowed their heads and standing barefooted, raised their black-gloved fists in salute as the national anthem played. "It was the sign that sports had evolved to where it could be a political and social phenomenon," said Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, who has also worked for the other two big network sports operations. "It catapulted the sports world right off the sports pages."
Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times