Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Road Vs. The Huffington Post

Dave Hollander
Check out this article written by Dave Hollander for The Huffington Post last week.  Kevin from Half TRI-ing posted the link in his blog yesterday.  Essentially, the article states that outside the top few hundred elite runners, everyone else who runs in the New York Marathon is not an athlete.

As you would expect, my initial reaction to the article was anger.  I thought the piece was amazingly pompous and mean spirited.  But then I read it a few more times and discussed it with some friends.  I also read a couple of Mr. Hollanders other articles.  Before too long I realized that generally speaking, Mr Hollander's writing tends to be a little bit snarky and a lot a bit boring.  So armed with this new perspective, I stopped being mad.  Because there was no point at being mad at something so irrelevant.

The article is written as if Mr. Hollander and his "good friend" and fellow writer C.J. Sullivan are having a discussion, presumably by email, about a mutual aversion to the New York City Marathon.  Though I've done my share of online smack talking, I don't try to "out clever" my friends during such exchanges.  Mr. Hollander and Mr. Sullivan's staged back-and-forth reads like some sort of Web 2.0 remake of My Dinner With Andre with points given for quasi-intellectual "funnys" that best demonstrate that the writers are "down" with the streets of New York and also smarter than their readers (and each other).

C.J. Sullivan
I'm unsure why Mr. Sullivan was Mr. Hollander's go-to guy for this discussion.  Based on the photo, it would appear that Mr. Sullivan has an extreme aversion to any type of physical activity if his complete lack of physical build is taken into account.  Call me crazy, but a co-conspirator who lacks any credibility with respect to the subject at hand doesn't make a very good co-conspirator.  But I guess that's how they roll in Brooklyn.

Then there is the subject matter.  How can you accuse someone of not being an athlete without defining what you believe an athlete to be?  Neither Mr. Hollander or Mr. Sullivan bother to do this.  Mr. Sullivan makes a reference to basketball players being athletes, but Mr. Hollander is too busy making elitist if not vaguely racist statements about Kenyans.  Then they both carry on peppering the text with other one-line zingers that fall short of anything substantial.  I've never taken a journalism class, but I would have thought if one fails to anchor their argument with a valid counter argument, then they've got nothing.

Besides,  good luck defining "athlete" to any sort of universal acceptance - It's not gonna happen.  Personally, I think everyone who ran the marathon is an athlete.  But I wouldn't be surprised if many of the 36,500 non-elite runners disagreed with my view of them.  It certainly wouldn't be inconceivable to discover that a large number of recreational marathoners run for any number of reasons other than the privilege of being tagged an "athlete", because these folks simply aren't inclined to measure their achievements through the prism of sport.  So viewed in this context, Mr. Hollander and Mr. Sullivan views speak to absolutely......nothing

Maybe Messrs. Hollander and Sullivan are just trying to act in the roles of jaded New Yorkers viewing the Marathon through a cynical yet meant-to-be-humorous eye.  If that's the case, my review of the article is even easier - it's simply not funny.

Regardless of where these two are coming from, my advice is not to take this article too seriously or be offended by it, because that's the reaction they are hoping for.  In fact I'd just ignore it and go read a friend's blog.


Emz said...

well said.

"But I like to think an athlete is an athlete." - Oscar Robertson

Nuff said.

Unknown said...

The Huffington Post is awful, they publish shit like this all the time just to get the clicks. Your description of the writes was EXACTLY what I thought they would look like and then the pics proved it.

LauraLynne said...

If I gave a damn about what OTHER people labeled me as...luckily I don't.

A slow, fat, Athlete.

Andrew Opala said...

Anybody who uses "My dinner with Andre" as a basis for a writing style is only slightly better than those who use "Waiting for Godot".

It's the Huffington Post, man! Give yourself a shake ... it's run by Zsa Zsa Gabor (whatever) ... next thing you're gonna tell me is that you read the national enquirer or the NY Post for training tips!

:) Keep up the rockin' IM-ing

KovasP said...

"Though I've done my share of online smack talking, I don't try to "out clever" my friends during such exchanges." (today)

"I went way out on a tangent trying to best Kovas and perhaps it was ill advised." (comment on Em's blog)

Will the real Patrick please stand up?

Patrick Mahoney said...

Fair enough Kovas, but I'm also going to "out" you as the "friend" who I talked to and gave me some great perspective about this article. Thank you, it really helped. Love, PM.

KovasP said...

You're "outing me," ChrisK said I'm going to be his Boston roommate. What do people know that I don't?

Caratunk Girl said...

Yeah the plan on that article was to definitely get some backlash. It does pi$$ (Can I say pi$$ on your blog?) me off that two guys who wouldn't get off the couch to get a doughnut criticize age group athletes like that though. All snarky and snotty like...

Adrienne said...

You lost me at Huffington Post....seriously almost had to stop being a follower but then I read on and realized you disagreed with them.

DUH! They are morons and were likely picked last in gym class their entire life and have thus become bitter against any who choose to be active. The Road wins.

Jason said...

The best part of this article is that those from the endurance community read it and then went out and ran, biked or swam or all three or a combination of two of them.

Further proving that an endurance athletes we cannot only endure the terrible writing that we come across but also manage to get in a great workout and further cement our legacy as athletes.

Jill said...

I love learning things about bloggers...like Kovas, for instance.

justme said...

athlete or not - those people have made a goal and finished it. i believe that is the inspiration behind running 26.2 is to say they did it, not to say they are an athlete.

Q said...

Good thing most (all?) of these people probably weren't running the marathon to earn the admiration of this Dave Hollander guy.

Thanks for the laugh!

Kat said...

@ Adrienne - Hey! What's wrong with being picked last in gym class??

Just kidding, I was never picked last. Well, except for basketball, but that was well-deserved until I started tripping people and stealing the ball from them. Then EVERYONE jumped on the Kat bandwagon!

Patrick, great critique. I'm glad I don't have to waste time reading such BS.

track coach and adorable wife said...

I have read a few other blogs on this subject and you seem to have a good perspective on it. Fight with your friends in private, but then keep your mouth shut, otherwise you'll look like an idiot! I'll ignore them!

Lindsay said...

that's exactly what i did - ignored it! i heard a lot about it on the blogs/etc though, but that's ok. i knew the jist of the article was that if you don't run like a 2:40, you're not an "athlete". well, that was all i needed to hear. i don't agree with that (obviously) so i knew nothing in that article would be worth reading.

if you do 26.2, or heck even 3.1, you are an athlete!

Joel said...

Clearly, either the author is a class A idiot or he wrote the article knowing it would get lots of traffic generated via the web. Or - maybe both are true.

Whatever. So many more things to get amped up over...like when WTC is going to raise rates again or when Juan Pelota will come out and actually do a Tri. :-)

Glenn Jones said...

Wasn't there a similar story last year right around NYC that got everyone's shorts in a bunch? How people who do marathons in more than 4 hours shoudn't be allowed to run them?

All I know is more than ever, these mjor races are selling out earlier than ever for more $s than ever.....


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