Article

Arthur Menke


"The Hebrew Runner"

A Jewish track star of the early 20th century.

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"There was, of course, a countervailing position at the time, that America should not be a melting pot," Katchen adds. "There were people in power who wanted to keep other ethnicities out, and it wasn't just Jews, but Roman Catholics and many other different faiths and cultures."

Katchen chronicles instances of the bias that AAU leadership exhibited at the time, particularly the double standard when prosecuting infractions of ethnic runners. At the height of his career, Kiviat was banned for life from the sport. His offense? Demanding excessive expense money to compete in a set of games conducted by the Eastern New York State Athletic League in Schenectady on September 18, 1915. For comparable violations, runners from Ivy League institutions and other well-heeled groups were given, at most, a slap on the wrist.

We've come a long way in the century since then. In some ways, there has clearly been progress. But looking back, we also have to measure what has been lost.

Arthur Menke is a writer based in Kansas City. He holds no world records.

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