ESPN sues northrunning.com
A six-month gag rule has expired and now the story can be told. When John Carlos and Tommie Smith accepted their 2008 ESPY Award it wasn't expected to set off a firestorm equal to their black power salute of the 1968 Olympics. But a simple slip of the tounge set in motion a series of events that nearly brought an end to northrunning.com.
For those who are too young to remember, on the winner's stand and during the playing of the national anthem, both Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised single black-gloved fists in the air in a show of black pride. It was a defining moment in that Olympics and stirred emotional debate back home in the United States.
Fast forward to last year. Carlos and Smith were given the 2008 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. When they were in the ESPN Studio taping their award acceptance a simple misspeak by Smith caused a minor furor. In trying to be magnanimous and humble Smith said, “It is with both pride and humility that I accept this ST Award.”
The segment was re-taped and Smith sheepishly mentioned on his way out that it was a simple mistake based on his habit of checking out northrunning's ST Awards at the end of each season. A suit was filed on behalf of ESPN to halt the use of the name ST Awards as being too similar to their own and they also sought an unspecified amount in damages.
Northrunning countered with proof that the ST Awards were sunstantially different. Additional testimony was submitted proving the award name was created by a rival coach Pat Sweeney on a basis completely unrelated to the ESPY's and that northrunning.com has received no profit from the venture.
The good news for local readers who look forward to the tri-annual ST Awards is that ESPN dropped the suit. The previously sealed “memorandum of understanding” northrunning has agreed not to televise the ST Awards or to use any of the same award categories.
In a totally unrelated event Tommie Smith and John Carlos will be the recipients of the ST Awards first Andre Aggasi Bravery Award.