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To Compete or Not To Compete: Controversy in the 1936 Olympics
Educator Overview

ABC-CLIO Database: Pop Culture Universe
Time Period: 1930s: The Great Depression
Topic: The 1930s
Skill: Analyze
Process: Compare and Contrast

Inquiry Question: What were the arguments for and against U.S. participation in the 1936 Olympics?

Objectives: By collecting information from the provided sources, students will explain the arguments presented by both sides: those who felt the United States should compete in the games, and those who felt the nation should boycott.

What students will discover in the sources: This activity includes a blend of primary and secondary source materials, reference articles, and scholarly commentary on the 1936 Olympic Games hosted in Berlin. A reference article focusing on the debates over a potential U.S. boycott introduces the controversy surrounding the 1936 Games and Adolf Hitler's recent rise to power in Germany. A second reference article offers an opportunity for comparison between the Nazi Party's racist and xenophobic policies in Germany and the discrimination simultaneously faced by African Americans in the American South under Jim Crow. A photograph taken on the streets of New York City in 1935 shows posters advertising a meeting to organize a boycott of the Games. A scholar's commentary further emphasizes the arguments in favor of such a boycott, describing the ways in which the Nazi regime sought to sterilize its image and treatment of minorities in Germany leading up to the 1936 Games. This argument is expressed in condensed form with a quote from the American Committee on Fair Play in Sports, the leading pro-boycott organization active in the U.S. in 1935. A final quote from Jesse Owens conveys the Olympian's discipline and focus during a historic moment in global politics and sports. These sources combine to offer students several different lenses on the debate over the most controversial Olympic Games in modern history.
MLA Citation

"Investigate: to Compete or Not to Compete: Controversy in the 1936 Olympics." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/InvestigateOverview/2230677?tab=1. Accessed 21 Jan. 2020.