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).
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.