Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, the 20th of 22 children born to dad Ed across his two marriages. She went on to become a pioneering African-American track and field champion, but the road to victory was not an easy one for Wilma Rudolph. Stricken with double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio as a child, she had problems with her left leg and had to wear a brace. It was with great determination and the help of physical therapy that she was able to overcome her disabilities.
Pioneering Olympic Medalist
Nicknamed “Skeeter” for her famous speed, Wilma Rudolph qualified for the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. The youngest member of the U.S. track and field team at age 16, she won a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay. After finishing high school, Rudolph enrolled at Tennessee State University, where she studied education. She also trained hard for the next Olympics.
Held in Rome, Italy, the 1960 Olympic Games were a golden time for Rudolph. After tying a world record with her time of 11.3 seconds in the 100-meter semifinals, she won the event with her wind-aided mark of 11.0 seconds in the final. Similarly, Rudolph broke the Olympic record in the 200-meter dash (23.2 seconds) in the heats before claiming another gold medal with her time of 24.0 seconds. She was also part of the U.S. team that established the world record in the 400-meter relay (44.4 seconds) before going on to win gold with a time of 44.5 seconds. As a result, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympic Games. The first-class sprinter instantly became one of the most popular athletes of the Rome Games as well as an international superstar, lauded around the world for her groundbreaking achievements.
Later Years, Death and Legacy
Rudolph shared her remarkable story with her 1977 autobiography, Wilma, which was turned into a TV film later that year. In the 1980s, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and established the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote amateur athletics. She died on November 12, 1994, in Brentwood, Tennessee, after losing a battle with brain cancer.
Rudolph is remembered as one of the fastest women in track and as a source of great inspiration for generations of athletes. She once stated, “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”
Football season is upon us once again and there are millions of women out there like me who could really care less. While we might be used to being alienated during this time of year, it doesn’t mean that we like it. So, my way of paying homage to those who like football is to write about things we can do instead, for those of us who don’t like football: 1
. Go to the gym – what better way to protest football then to try and look like those who actually play it!
2. Go shopping – watching football at home maybe free, but there’s always a price to pay
3. Wash my hair – this may not sound like a big deal but washing my hair takes about the same amount of time as it does for the Buffalo Bills to lose
4. Catch up with an old friend – going to brunch or even an early dinner with an old friend is a good way to kill the time. At least this way I’m investing in someone who actually knows me rather than supporting an athlete who doesn’t even know I exist
5. Watch a movie – movie theaters are open every day, all day long. Just like watching football is for sheer entertainment purposes only, so is going to the movies
6. Get my nails done – as a woman it’s important that I keep myself looking fresh. So while you men watch your favorite athletes get pulverized, I’ll be watching my nails get painted
7. Read a book – I love to read it. I don’t need football season to get me in the mood to read a good book, however at least when I’m reading I feel like I’m learning something.
8. Take a nap – 3 to 4 hours is the perfect length of time to take a nap. I can wake up feeling well rested & ready for whatever else the day may bring! Watching football can take a lot of energy out of you (especially if your team loses) but after a nap you feel refreshed
9. Spend quality time with myself – there’s nothing more important than investing in ones’ self
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST,
10. Go to church – Sunday is synonymous with football but more importantly it’s the day that you’re supposed to go to church. Spending 2 to 3 hours with the Lord never hurt anybody and at least you know that playing on His team, you’ll always win
What kind of things do you do instead of watching football?
Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ Colin!
In the immediate aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s first protest of the national anthem, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believed in the right to free speech, but also wanted to make sure everyone knew he was a genuine star-spangled patriot (if not a Patriot).
But in discussing the continued displays over the weeks since, Goodell said he appreciates the social conscience of players who choose to speak out, hoping they can use their voices in a way to solve some problems.
“As I’ve said before, I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change the community,” Goodell said, via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com. “We don’t live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice. They’re moving from protests to progress and trying to make things happen in the communities, and I admire that about our players [being] willing to do that.”
The phrase “from protests to progress” sounds Frank Luntz-style focus-group approved, but it’s at least a recognition that protests are happening. Goodell said he has not spoke with Kaepernick since the 49ers quarterback began sitting, then kneeling for the national anthem to bring attention to racism and police brutality.
“Obviously, we want to respect people,” Goodell said. “We want to respect our differences. We want to reflect our flag and our country, and our players understand that. So I think where they’re moving and how they’re moving there is very productive, and we’re going to encourage that.”
While it’s not exactly a stirring call to arms, it’s at least a recognition that enough players are willing to say something that it’s going to be hard to keep them all from doing so.
*Originally published on NBC Sports.