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How Important Should Sports Be?

This past week, Hurricane Sandy has devastated the eastern part of the United States. As of the writing of this newsletter, millions of people are still without power, thousands have either lost their homes or been forced to evacuate because of damage from the storm, much of the public transit system is still not running, including most of New York’s subway system, and more people are being found either dead or missing on a daily basis. My youngest son is a senior at New York University and has not been able to sleep in his dormitory since Saturday because there is no power in the building. His classes have been cancelled all week. Every night he has had to find somewhere else to sleep and shower with relatives or friends who have electricity. And he feels fortunate.

Yesterday, I heard the news that despite all of the tragedy that has occurred this past week and all of the problems that New York is facing, the famed New York City Marathon will still be held this Sunday. Why? The reasoning I heard was that the over 47,000 runners registered will bring in much needed money to New York and that it will be a much needed distraction to the residents of the city. To me, this is utter arrogance and stupidity. Having volunteered for years on Kansas City’s Hospital Hill half marathon race committee, I know the demands a race like this requires. Streets have to be closed for hours; hundreds of volunteers are needed as well as hundreds of police and paramedics. With the New York community suffering the crisis it has endured over the past week, I cannot understand the rationale behind this decision. Power crews and police and emergency personnel have been working nonstop all week, and now must also be available for a marathon that can take 6 to 7 hours for some to finish. Thousands of runners and their families need lodging, food and transportation to a city that has thousands of residents in crisis. To me this brings up the question I have discussed numerous times on my weekly radio show, just how important should sports be? If you have read my newsletter over the past several years, you know that I feel sports are the greatest discipline to find out about yourself and what you can achieve. Sports bring people, schools and communities together. It CAN be a good distraction from the stressors and issues we face in life on a daily basis. However, when your community is facing a crisis the magnitude that the New York City area is facing, an event like this should not go on. In my opinion, it should either be postponed or cancelled for this year. Sports are an important component of our society. It does bring people together. Over a million fans attended the victory parade this week for the San Francisco Giants after their World Series victory. But, when you still have millions without power, thousands displaced because their homes have either been destroyed or severely damaged, it makes no sense to run a 26.1 mile race through these streets. As I said, sports is important, but having an event like this occurring while the area is going through this crisis to me makes no sense. I would like to hear the rationale from the race organizers and race committee members regarding the reasoning for this decision. I am guessing for them, their motto is, “The games must go on.” Your thoughts.

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