Olympic gold medalist and activist to speak virtually April 19

It was the protest heard around the world. After clinching gold for the 200-meter dash in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Dr. Tommie Smith and U.S. teammate John Carlos took to the podium, raised a clenched fist to the sky and stood in solidarity with the civil rights movement. This historic moment continues to reverberate throughout stadiums across the globe as an important precedent and milestone for athlete activism in sport.

50 years after Smith’s “salute to human rights”, equality remains a critical societal issue. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter fight for social justice against incidents of police brutality and racially motivated inequities. The black-gloved fist that Smith raised in 1968 continues to be a symbol for Black Power in the U.S. Central to the current political climate is the modern athlete activist.

Smith’s symbolic gesture sparked controversy over athletes’ roles in politics – a debate we are still holding today. Athletes continue to use sport to highlight important issues in society, as seen by prominent athlete activists such as Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James, Naomi Osaka and numerous others.

Key sport organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), introduced rules and sanctions to keep the Games free from demonstrations and politics.

Should athletes use their platform to speak out on important issues?

Dr. Smith will address this question in a free virtual event, Athlete Activism: Revisiting the Past, Shaping the Future, April 19 6-7PM MT on YouTube Live. Students, alumni, community members, faculty and staff are invited to join the discussion and debate on political protest in sport. We will also welcome a representative from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee to engage in discussion and share their perspective on IOC’s Rule 50 as they prepare for the 2021 Olympic Games.

“We are thrilled to host Dr. Tommie Smith for a timely and important discussion surrounding activism in sport through an ethical lens,” said Tracy-Gonzalez-Padron, professor of marketing and director of the DFEI Collegiate Program at UCCS. “This conversation is guaranteed to be thought-provoking on how to ensure trust and fairness in sport. We thank Dr. Smith for sharing his perspectives with us.”

The virtual event is hosted by the UCCS Sport Management Program and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at UCCS College of Business. To register, visit https://cvent.me/BQkWm1.

“Standing atop the podium at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Dr. Tommie Smith challenged convention and a USOPC directive by raising a black-gloved fist and demanding that the world pay attention to the social injustices he’d been witness to,” said Eric Olson, professor of marketing and strategic management and director of the UCCS Sport Management Program. “Fifty years later, it is clear that these issues of social injustice still persist today and the role of the athlete in bringing attention to these issues remains controversial. Please join us to hear directly from Dr. Smith on his personal experiences and views on the future of athlete activism.”


The UCCS Sport Management Program is a selective undergraduate degree program designed for serious students who share a passion for the business side of sports and a desire to build careers in a fast-paced industry. Students in the program complete coursework in subjects such as sport marketing, sport law, accounting and finance in small classes taught by doctoral degree-holding university faculty and industry professionals. Starting this year, Sport Management is also being offered as an online area of emphasis within the UCCS MBA program. For more information, visit www.uccs.edu/smp/.

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at UCCS College of Business is a resource for principle-based ethics education, serving students, educators and business community. The UCCS College of Business is one of eight original participating schools in the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program that now includes twelve participating schools. Since 2016, the DFEI Collegiate Program at UCCS has partnered with schools of the Southern Colorado Ethics Consortium to expand principle-based ethics education. College presidents select one faculty member to be an Ethics Champion for their campus. Find more information online.