Former 2:24 marathoner, now pushing 50 and reduced to a pitiable spastic shuffle • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on distance running since 1999; mostly a crank since approximately 2016 and possibly long before • Coach and adviser of less pessimistic perambulators • Dobie-mix owner Sentence-fragment impresario

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Why you should never allow any child you care about near a track team

This scenario illustrates why every human being alive should be discouraged from participating in track and field.

The footage below is allegedly from the start of the 1600-meter run at the Wisconsin High School D-1 State Championships held the other day. The girl third from the right "false-starts" and was disqualified from the event outright, as the rules allow, if not always demand.

The aftermath of the disqualification is painful to watch, and I'm sure the other girls in her heat wished, in that moment, that she would desist from her goddamn tantrum and disappear forthwith. Still, I empathize with the angst of the disqualified girl, a senior with 5:08/11:01 credentials.

The whole thing is a little bizarre, but it's nothing shameful. And I add that otherwise curious observation only because of the response to this tweet, which a significant fraction of respondents saw as shaming the unfortunate runner, which of course is only possible if you behind her behavior somehow off limits, as if she's someone afflicted with a flagrant mental disorder or a neurological cousin of Tourette syndrome. She was a kid expressing, not entirely appropriately, her screaming disappointment. I myself once saw a just-defeated teammate tear the shorts of his rival to the ground and proceed to tear the unfortunate victor's junk clear off its moorings with a meaty thwork! sound; that footage was understandably banned from damn near everything. What I'm saying here is that I'm a little leery of what opponents of the posting of the video think of this girl. Are they ashamed by proxy? I mean, are tons of people really judging her?

Anyway, my main reason for bringing this up is that applying the same one-and-done rule to the sprints and the distance races is another reason I would never let the putative child of my misbegotten loins even associate with track runners, much less participate in the sport. It's just shitty to have such a black-and-white standard when the stakes are so high for the athletes. OK, a sprinter might roll the dice and try to get away with one false start, because great starts are vital in the sprints; this is clearly not the case in the distances races. And I get that precise measurements are the stock-in-trade of track and field, but does anyone take pride in the fact that rules that help create scenarios like these exist? Fuck this sport. My god. Fuck as all, getting your hips really, powerfully into it as you do. If you play track, quit; if you watch track, piss off and do something else -- what's left of the worm must be starved, and as such must be denied your external support.

But now I have a meta-reason to insist on this, too. See, if track fans are the kind of sports fans who want those kinds of videos hidden from public, then be assured of this much: You're never going to have a lot of fuckin' track fans. The girl wasn't out there shitting herself, uncontrollably or for bragging rights; she didn't lose any of her clothing, and she didn't displease the Christ Jesus in any palpable way. I dunno, maybe there is something I am missing here, but the fact is that the event before the event affected the event, because the starter had to call the field back a second time (sort of). It wasn't something to be necessarily emphasized, but to insist on squashing it altogether?

This brings me back to my recurrent theme: The fan base of this sport is self-limiting, because even allowing for the fact that most people these days are a little fucked up in some way, we runners are lurching around with an impressive burden of psychopathology, and no one really wants what we're offering, thanks. People on a larger scale don't understand runners, and they also neither want to nor need to. Every time I watch a marathon on TV, I am reminded of how apocalyptically boring the average person would be if forced to watch such shit for even 20 unbroken minutes.

So, stay the fuck away or you'll catch whatever it is idiots like you, they and them have tried to sicken is with. Get out, don't worry about any more medals or bucket-list marathons or any of it. Quit, take up smoking, and die young and healthy so you'll burn better, baby, for the urn.

Where was I? Yeah. So, just be happy they can't charge more than they already do for online crapcasts, because some enterprising hero usually manages to score the really major ones anyway. I don't support thievery, but I do enjoy seeing certain people be its victims than others. I am not sure that's a morally balanced equation. Piss.

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