Throughout the history of sports, there have been iconic moments that have helped shape a generation of die hard fans. There are times, however, when moments go beyond that Hail Mary pass or underdog win to make a mark in history, changing not only the way people view sports, but also advancing social justice.
Rugby And ApartheidJean-pierre Muller/AFP/Getty Images
Jesse Owens Takes A Stand Against Nazi GermanyFox Photos/Getty Images Sport Classic/Getty Images
When Owens returned home, he was greeted with love and support from fans of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. One person, however, didn't care enough about Owens' accomplishments to give him a call. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's political party may not have appreciated giving congratulations to a black man, so Owens was ignored. He later said, “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send a telegram.”
Black Pride At The Olympic GamesAfp/AFP/Getty Images
Another major moment in sports history was at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968 when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists as a display of black pride while they were receiving their medals for first and third place, respectively. They made this gesture during the U.S. National Anthem while also wearing the Olympic Project For Human Rights badge. Although silver medalist Peter Norman didn't have his hand raised, he too, wore the Olympic Project For Human Rights badge as a gesture of solidarity against inequality.
Lou Gehrig's RetirementSporting News Archive/Sporting News/Getty Images
The Legless Football PlayerSports Illustrated
Bobby Martin stood at only three feet tall when he played high school football back in 2005. Martin was born without legs and uses his arms to run, and because he doesn't have thighs, he is unable to wear prosthetic, but that didn't stop him from playing punt and kickoff coverage as well as the varsity nose tackle.
Muhammad Ali Stripped Of TitleHulton Archive/Getty Images Sport Classic/Getty Images
Jackie Robinson Becomes A Dodger, 1947Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images Sport Classic/Getty Images
Back when the Dodgers were a Brooklyn team, baseball wasn't as ethnically diverse as it is today. Jackie Robinson endured many obstacles as he made his way to major league baseball, but it was his perseverance, talent, and skill that kept him going. After signing with the Dodgers in 1947, he became the first black player on a major league team and paved the way for other players of color to step into the baseball arena, enduring death threats and being ignored almost everywhere he went by other players.
Ben Johnson's Lifetime BanRomeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images
Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson had a big win at the Seoul Summer Olympic Games in 1988. He set a world record and was nicknamed the "Human Bullet." Unfortunately for him, he later tested positive for steroids and his 1987 and 1988 titles were taken from him. Years later at the Barcelona Olympics he was allowed to return, but he again tested positive for testosterone. After that, he was banned from competing for life.