Here is the picture postcard version of the largest city in the United States of America. Up until Monday evening anyone who visited the city could take in many wonderful sights and sounds as they traveled through the five boroughs that make up New York City. This, of course was prior to Superstorm Sandy changing the landscape of the Northeastern United States forever.
Now four days into the disaster the debate is turning to the validity of the choice to continue with plans to host the annual New York City marathon. The fact that 40,000 plus runners will descend on the city notwithstanding, this metropolitan area is in no shape to hold such an event. Sure there is an economic factor, but how can this compare to the welfare of the citizens we see pleading on every form of media for help.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says electricity will be restored to large sections by the weekend. Contradicting reports deny this report and makes one wonder if there is deception or if the focus is making New York city look as good as possible by catering to the influx of folks willing to spend their money. If so, Mr. Bloomberg should take time to visit Staten Island residents to convince them what he feels is most important.
Sports has a place in our society, but at this point in New York City’s recovery, taking any focus away from its citizens and their recovery is the wrong move. It has been said by others, but I will echo the thought that any policeman, ambulance staff or other support personnel re-purposed to the marathon is one too many.
We are talking about a twenty six mile traverse through all the boroughs of this great city. You know there will be a camera shot of runners passing by scenes of ultimate destruction, with people concerned about survival staring at them. How can we celebrate a sporting event in the face of such human suffering? I think New York made a very bad choice in keeping the marathon schedule as it is.
I don’t agree with the notion that running the race shows that New York will not quit and this shows how tough they are. This is not like how the city responded to the September 11 terror attacks. That was about national pride, showing terrorists they could not affect our way of life. This is simply about the money that can be lost if the event is cancelled.
People without warm places to stay and the basic need of running water are being evicted from hotels for those who have reservations to run a race that matters very little in the grand scheme of things. Five, ten and twenty years from now no one will know or care who won the 2012 New York City marathon, but no one will forget Superstorm Sandy.
EDIT: As of about 5:30 PM on Fridasy November 2nd, Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to his senses and realized how incongrous his line of thiking was that the marathon should go as scheduled. Perhaps he felt the outrage from across the nation as well as in his city over the decision. Whatever the reason, I think New York is better served concentrating on getting back to normal.