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Marathon

When the news broke on Monday that two deadly explosions had taken place on the streets of Boston, I reacted, as many Americans do in times of crisis, by turning on the news. And as I watched Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper try to explain the grisly scene of blood and pandemonium unfolding in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, I began rummaging through my closet, searching for something I hadn’t used in years.

Upon successfully locating my lucky gold running-shorts, I dusted them off, put them on, and walked out the door. Within what felt like mere minutes I was weaving through the Marshall Street traffic and heading toward Thornden Park. Already my footfalls were out of rhythm, my lungs were out of breath, and I hadn’t the faintest idea why I was running. I hadn’t really run, like really run, in a couple of years, and my erratic breathing wasn’t letting me forget it.

My first thought was that I was coping with my legs again. It’s something I’d been doing since I was an extremely overweight high school freshman first hearing about the death of my grandparents. My fifteen year old brain couldn’t process the information, so I ran. And I ran. And I ran farther than my out-of-shape body had any business running.

But suddenly I knew, as I panted my way up the steps of the Thornden Park Amphitheater. That’s not what was happening here. I wasn’t coping, I was training. I was training for the Boston Marathon.

It seemed an odd reaction at first. What a strange way to respond to a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings. What was I trying to prove, you know? How could this do any tangible good for anyone at all? But then I spoke to friends I ran with in high school, and I discovered I wasn’t the only person to react in this fashion. They too wanted to run in 2014. In fact, it turns out that interest in the marathon is reportedly 15 to 20 times higher than any time since 2008.

However, to run in the Boston Marathon, competitors must first register a qualifying time at an approved race before September 22.

Age Men Women
18-34 – 3hrs 05min – 3hrs 35min
35-39 – 3hrs 10min – 3hrs 40min
40-44 – 3hrs 15min – 3hrs 45min
45-49 – 3hrs 25min – 3hrs 55min
50-54 – 3hrs 30min – 4hrs 00min
55-59 – 3hrs 40min – 4hrs 10min
60-64 – 3hrs 55min – 4hrs 25min
65-69 – 4hrs 10min – 4hrs 40min
70-74 – 4hrs 25min – 4hrs 55min
75-79 – 4hrs 40min – 5hrs 10min
80&up – 4hrs 55min – 5hrs 25min

These qualifying times are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Yet it’s possible that the Boston Athletic Association will relax its incredibly strict admission restrictions. For example, it could permit more than the usual 25,000 entries for 2014. With that said, I know even if I’m not able to participate in the race, I’ll at the very least show up to cheer from the finish line.

College Capitalism

The debate over whether college athletes should be paid has raged for years. Essentially the whole issue boils down to the fact that college athletics is a business. Underneath the x’s and o’s, l’s and w’s, are red and black figures scrawled in some ledger on Adam the accountant’s desk (because in my mind that’s how accounting works). It’s these numbers, the net gains and losses, which fuel collegiate sports. But where people tend to take issue with the business of college athletics is the pay structure and distribution of revenue.

It’s an Occupy Wall Street kind of argument; the system is too top-heavy and higher-ups are exploiting those beneath them. Similar convictions are at play. In the case of college sports, the schools and coaches are the ones raking in massive piles of cash. But the athletes don’t share in these spoils. Some of them are lucky enough to receive scholarships for their efforts, but the disproportionate earnings present a stark contrast.

Just take a look at Andy Enfield, the coach with the super model wife who became the talk of the nation after Florida Gulf Coast progressed to the Sweet Sixteen. His team exceeded expectations, won a few games under tremendous scrutiny, and suddenly, when the Cinderella story concludes, he’s off to greener pastures. 847,000 dollars greener, as the new coach of USC. That’s his compensation for Florida Gulf Coast’s incredible string of upsets.

Can you guess how much those junior forward Chase Fieler was compensated for those wins?  How about 0 dollars. How about senior guard Sherwood Brown? Again, 0 dollars. The really difficult question to answer is how much money Florida Gulf Coast made from those wins. With the tidal wave of incoming freshmen the school is sure to receive, considering all the free publicity garnered by their stellar basketball team, the number is pretty much incalculable.

So here’s a possible solution. If colleges insist on paying a guy like Enfield a million dollars per year or a guy like Rick Pitino 3.9 million dollars per year, then there should be a caveat to these ludicrous paychecks. The coach should allot money from his yearly income to pay players. It could be used as a recruiting tool, and when players perform well they can receive bonuses to reward what they’ve done for their school.  

Okay, so the idea definitely could do with a little polish because it’s far from perfect. But then again what business is?