A piece on a remarkable story from the 1936 Olympics appears in Slate.
The story of the 1936 Olympics remains focused onthe brilliant achievements of Jesse Owens and the filmmaking of Leni Riefenstahl. But the Berlin Games were just as important for inaugurating the era of the modern Olympiad. This was the first Olympics that featured a torch relay from Mount Olympus, and the German Broadcasting Company installed the world's most technologically sophisticated television system to broadcast the games to theaters throughout Berlin. The Germans also constructed a massive shortwave broadcast center to ensure worldwide Olympics coverage.
For the global radio audience, estimated at 300 million, the Olympics assumed a new prominence. Just four years earlier, the American radio networks (NBC and CBS) dropped live coverage of the games when the cash-strapped Los Angeles organizing committee demanded an exorbitant rights fee at the last minute. Because the Germans asked for no rights fees and offered their engineers and technical apparatus for free, Americans were able to listen to the games live for the first time.
On the morning of Aug. 14, many people in Seattle woke up excited to catch the regatta’s final event live on CBS. Those listeners had a vested interest in the race. The United States team, a crew from the University of Washington, came very close to missing the trip to Berlin. Immediately following the Huskies’ victory in the Olympic trials, the team was informed by the U.S. Olympic Committee that it needed to come up with $5,000 to pay its way to Berlin. Seeing an opening, Henry Penn Burke—chairman of the Olympic Rowing Committee and a University of Pennsylvania alum—offered to send his beloved Quakers in place of the Huskies. The sports editors of Seattle's top two newspapers, outraged on behalf of the local heroes, enlisted newsboys to solicit donations while hawking papers. With American Legion posts and Chambers of Commerce throughout the state chipping in, enough money was collected in three days to send the team to Berlin. As a consequence of the funding drive, remembered Gordon Adam, who rowed in the three-seat, "people in the city felt that they were stockholders in the operation."
'tip of the hat to Sara