Perhaps the most famous of all modern Olympics was the 1936 “Nazi” Olympics, held in Berlin. Hitler tried to use the Olympic Games to demonstrate the superiority of “pure Aryans” over nations that allowed Jews, blacks and other “mongrel” races to compete on their behalf. Jesse Owens and other African-American track stars embarrassed the Fuhrer by winning most of the gold medals in the men’s track sprints and relays, defeating their German rivals easily.
Less remembered about the Nazi Olympics is the saga of two American Jewish sprinters, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller. The 18-year-old Glickman starred in track and football at Syracuse University while Stoller competed for the University of Michigan. The two young men made the U. S. Olympic squad as members of the 4×100-yard relay team. Glickman and Stoller traveled to Germany and prepared diligently for the relay race. The day before the race, however, the U.S. track team coaches replaced Glickman and Stoller with two other runners, Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe.
By Glickman’s account, the last-minute switch was straightforward anti-Semitism. Avery Brundage, chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, supported Hitler’s regime and denied that the Nazis followed anti-Semitic policies. Brundage and assistant Olympic track coach Dean Cromwell belonged to America First, an isolationist political movement that attracted many pro-Nazi sympathizers. Additionally, Cromwell coached two other Olympic sprinters, Foy Draper and Frank Wyckoff, at the University of Southern California and openly favored those two over Glickman and Stoller.