Franklin Jacobs (born December 31, 1957 ) is a former high jumper from the United States. His personal best of 2.32 meters (7 ft 7 1⁄4 in) was a world indoor record in 1978, and at 59 centimeters (23 in) above Jacobs' own height of 1.73 meters (5 ft 8 in), it remains the record for height differential, now held jointly with Stefan Holm, and the record for jump at highest rate of one's size.
Jacobs was one of ten children of Jannie Jacobs, living in a shack in Mullins, South Carolina. His parents separated when he was young. The impoverished family moved to Paterson, New Jersey when he was three and lived with four cousins. His first love was basketball, and he played for Paterson East-side High. He only started high jumping in his senior year, after the end of the basketball season. He cleared 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) that year. His natural talent overcame his lack of technique: he called his style the "Jacobs Slop", as opposed to the Fosbury Flop; but later renamed it the "Slope", from the trajectory of his launch.
Jacobs barely graduated high school and got no athletic scholarship, but enrolled at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey with a federal grant. He cleared 7 feet 1 inch (2.16 m) in his freshman year. In March 1977 he tore cartilage in his right leg playing basketball, but competed for over a year without surgery. He established a rivalry with Dwight Stones over the next two years, with media emphasizing the contrast between Jacobs, a short inner-city African American, and Stones, a tall blond Californian. Stones antagonized Jacobs by criticizing his unorthodox jumping style. Jacobs beat Stones at the 1978 Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden, at which he set a world indoor record of 2.32 meters (7 ft 7 1⁄4 in). He waived his right to try for an even higher record, saying he "didn't feel nervous enough". The next day, Vladimir Yashchenko broke the record in Milan. In July, at a highly publicized international between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Jacobs lost to Yashchenko on countback. In August, Jacobs won the Tanqueray Award for outstanding amateur athlete; by then he had won 27 collegiate events.
Jacobs anticipated gaining lucrative endorsements from the 1980 Olympics, but the U.S. boycott of the Games precluded this. He was extremely disappointed and wanted to skip the U.S. "Olympic Trials"; he attended by request of his college, but failed his opening height. He gave up the high jump and did not return to college. A planned return to competition in 1982 did not happen. In 1991, he commented, "I was upset and my dreams were shattered. I probably could have come back in 1984, but I was a naive kid. It was like the floor fell in."
He subsequently had various jobs around Paterson, working for a construction company 1986–91. He married Naomi Livingston c.1990 and had a daughter Shannon in 1992. Around 1995, they moved to Gilbert, Arizona. In 1998 he was working for an electrical installation company. That year, he attended a Millrose Games tribute to stars of memorable previous meets.
|1977||NCAA Outdoor||Champaign, Illinois||2nd||2.26|
|1977||US Nationals||Los Angeles, California||2nd||2.27|
|1978||NCAA Indoor||Detroit, Michigan||1st||2.25[fn 1]|
|1978||NCAA Outdoor||Eugene, Oregon||1st||2.26|
|1978||US Nationals||Los Angeles, California||2nd||2.24|
|1979||US Nationals||Walnut, California||1st||2.26[fn 2]|
|1979||Pan American Games||San Juan, Puerto Rico||1st||2.26|
|1979||World Cup||Montreal, Canada||1st||2.27|
|1980||NCAA Indoor||Detroit, Michigan||1st||2.24|
|1980||US Indoor Nationals||New York City||1st||2.24[fn 3]|
|1980||US Nationals||Walnut, California||1st||2.24[fn 3]|
- Officially, 7 ft 5 in; NCAA switched to metric in 1979.
- Officially, 7 ft 5 in; USATF switched to metric in 2003.
- Officially, 7 ft 41⁄4 in; USATF switched to metric in 2003.
- Nonna, Michael. "Franklin Jacobs". Track and Field Statistics. brinkster.net. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Litsky, Frank (13 February 1998). "High Jumper Resurfaces For Honor at Millrose". New York Times. p. C8. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Sampaolo, Diego (14 January 2009). "The super consistency of Stefan Holm". torino2009. European Indoor Athletics Championships. Retrieved 2009-04-30.[dead link]
- Looney, Douglas S. (13 February 1978). "A Mite Over The Bar". Sports Illustrated.
- Rhoden, Bill; photographer G. Marshall Wilson (May 1978). "A big victory for the "Little People"". Ebony: 82–88.
- Putnam, Pat (6 February 1978). "The Slop And Hustle Take Over". Sports Illustrated.
- Company, Johnson Publishing (8 June 1978). "Franklin Jacobs adds new technique to high jump". Jet: 52.
- Madden, Bill (8 February 1998). "Jumpin' outta sight". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Reid, Ron (20 March 1978). "An Encore On A High Note". Sports Illustrated.
- Marshall, Joe (17 July 1978). "Not Quite As High, But A Bit Mightier". Sports Illustrated.
- Company, Johnson Publishing (17 August 1978). "Franklin Jacobs wins 1978 Tanqueray award". Jet: 46.
- Litsky, Frank (9 February 1982). "Jacobs starting high jump comeback". The New York Times. p. B19. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Curry, Jack (4 February 1991). "Sidelines: You can't hide: After 13 years, Jacobs speaks". New York Times. p. C2. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "High Jump - 1977-06-04". 1977 Men's Division I Outdoor Track And Field. NCAA. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "Indoor Track and Field: Division I men's" (PDF). NCAA. 2008. pp. 2, 5. Retrieved 2009-04-30.[dead link]
- "High Jump - 1978-06-03". 1978 Men's Division I Outdoor Track And Field. NCAA. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "Men's High Jump". USA Outdoor Track & Field Champions. USATF. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "USA Indoor Track & Field Championships". USATF. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "Men's High Jump". USA Indoor Track & Field Champions. USATF. Retrieved 2009-04-30.