Editor's note: James Montague is an author and journalist who writes for the New York Times, CNN.com, GQ and World Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesPiotr.
By James Montague, Special to CNN
While many Americans anticipate the final game between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics on Saturday, or the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley boxing match, the rest of the world will be transfixed as one of the most highly anticipated sports tournaments begins Friday: soccer's 2012 European Championship.
The lead up to the month-long tournament, which is co-hosted in the former communist Eastern European states of Poland and Ukraine, has made worldwide headlines –and not all for the right reasons.
It has been a drama that involves a jailed former prime minister, controversies related to corruption and accusations of endemic prejudice that highlight the differing nature of racism in Europe compared to America.
By James Montague, CNN
(CNN) – It is perhaps the most iconic sports photograph ever taken.
Captured at the medal ceremony for the men's 200 meters at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, U.S. sprinter Tommie Smith stands defiantly, head bowed, his black-gloved fist thrust into the thin air.
Behind him fellow American John Carlos joins with his own Black Power salute, an act of defiance aimed at highlighting the segregation and racism burning back in their homeland.
It was an act that scandalized the Olympics. Smith and Carlos were sent home in disgrace and banned from the Olympics for life. But they were treated as returning heroes by the black community for sacrificing their personal glory for the cause. History, too, has been kind to them.
Yet few know that the man standing in front of both of them, the Australian sprinter Peter Norman who shocked everyone by powering past Carlos and winning the silver medal, played his own, crucial role in sporting history.