Tuesday, October 09, 2007

OK, back to some more negative shit

Who in the hell is Michael Tarm to decide who looks "...like a starting line is, well, the last place they should be"? In this article on the growing number of participants in big-city marathons, Tarm points out that nowadays you will see people at marathons who are old, fat, wearing chicken suits, and/or wearing g-strings. So far, this all sounds fine to me. But a large number of people collapsed from heat stroke and exhaustion at last weekend's Chicago Marathon (possibly due to the water running out at some of the water stations along the course, though the organizers are denying that this happened), and in response to this, some unnamed "marathon purists" to say that races are "too all-inclusive" and are being overrun by "novices" who "crowd courses for more serious runners".

OK. Marathons may be getting bigger, but if race organizers seriously wanted to cut down on the number of entrants (which evidently they don't, since they like collecting entry fees and the host cities like collecting the revenues from all the people who come to the marathons from out of town), there are plenty of ways to do this. For example, they could require entrants to achieve a certain qualifying time in another marathon, like they do in Boston. Or for those races that don't wish to be exclusive to fast runners, they could just put smaller caps on the total number of entries and register people on a first-come, first-served basis. Or for races that really don't want the "novices", they could require participants to qualify by completing a shorter distance race, e.g., a half marathon, before entering. Or, hell, they could just allow entries by invitation only if they wanted a purely elite field. But none of these possibilities is explored in the article. The only identifier that is suggested for weeding out the "not-so-serious" runners is appearance. If you are old or fat or not wearing socially acceptable attire, it is implied that you are not serious enough. That is wrong and crappy. There are plenty of "serious" participants in events like this who don't necessarily "look" like elite athletes. Just to pick a totally random example, there are people weighing 200 pounds and even more who successfully run marathons. And hell, this woman is a fucking triathlete! So really, I think your seriousness as an athlete has a lot more to do with your attitude than your looks. And I hope that things like this crappy article don't contribute to prejudice against participants who lack the runner's traditional "look". Especially since, as I've said elsewhere, I personally have always found the running communities I've been a part of to be very accepting of different body types.


Ms. Pants said...

More ammo for you.

(As I type, one kitten is trying to attack the letters on the screen, and another is draped on my shoulder, just hanging and purring. Thought that might make you smile.)

Mary said...

Oh good lord, that is so obnoxious. That woman embodies every reason why I am not in the business world. This same idea about grudgingly accepting society's image obsession comes up in a lot of places. For example, critics of the black community (including some black people) will sometimes say, "Speaking Ebonics (AAVE) doesn't mean you are stupid, but people will perceive it that way, so you should try to talk more like a white person." Don't criticize or try to work on people's prejudices, just accept them and conform. It reminds me of this South Park episode from a while back where the Catholic church was trying to figure out how to deal with the scandal around priests having sex with altarboys. The discussion revolved around "How can we get these boys to quit going to the media?" and when the priest from South Park suggested that the real question should be "How do we get priests to stop having sex with boys?" all the other priests were incredulous like, What?! Who invited this guy?! etc.

But I think my favorite part of the article is where she says "If you're overweight, you're probably not exercising every day." Yeah, she just *knows*. And by the same token, if you're not overweight, then you must be exercising every day. And no doubt you are also eating a healthy diet, taking good care of your grooming, and in general you are a morally superior person (like all the assholes who wrote smug comments on that article saying how simple it is to just 'take care of yourself' and be thin).