Politics and running have crossed paths. The past couple weeks I have seen articles from runners and posts on Facebook wondering, “Why us? Why the Boston Marathon?” Maybe I just read the news too much, but the answer seems clear.
Security measures are at an all time high in this country’s history and large races provide a soft target that can be easily exploited. There are literally thousands of gym bags and backpacks in one area at the same time and it is impossible to put effective security measures in place. Why wouldn’t Muslim terrorists want to strike at an event such as a marathon? People from all parts of the country (and sometimes the world) come together to participate in a sport that accentuates our similarities rather than our differences. Runners and spectators are old and young, conservative and liberal, black and white, etc.. A brief celebration where we can all leave any controversy miles behind us and support one another in a common goal. This is everything a Muslim terrorist hates.
What are some solutions? I am running in the Wisconsin Marathon/Half Marathon next weekend and their website states that security will be increased, but gives no specific details. I’m okay with that. Another reasonable idea that was thrown around by the sports media was to have large marathons finish inside a local stadium where the flow of spectators can be regulated and searched before entry. I’m alright with that as well. In most cases it’s private property and you must go through similar security screening to see a football game. What I am not okay with are the knee jerk reactions that are being implemented. This morning a friend posted a text message he received from a race he will be competing in this weekend. (Click to view full size on the left). Bullet point one states, “Participants are asked not to bring or wear backpacks or duffel bags to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Please be aware that all bags and backpacks will be subject to search by security personnel.” With this statement I have numerous problems. Why is this just limited to participants and not spectators? Seems like a pointless effort when it’s unlikely a Muslim Jihadist is actually running the race. Second, this is a nearly unenforceable practice given the amount of runners at some events. Are we now going to sit through intrusive searches and airport style security lines to run a race while the most likely people to commit a crime are in the crowds of fans and exempt from said searches? Runners have to get there an hour ahead of time as it is. Everyone reading this can do whatever you decide and I support your freedom to choose, but I speak for myself when I say that I will not give my money to any race that wants to instate some “feel good” security measure that does nothing to keep anyone safe. What it does do is waste my time, needlessly inconvenience me and stomp all over the 4th amendment of the Constitution. Let’s be realistic, you cannot police an open-air event that is 26.2 miles long. To believe you can is about as foolish as thinking Williams-Sonoma removing pressure cookers from local store shelves in the days following the attack was somehow useful. This is a problem we all better come to terms with instead of implementing some kind of ridiculous policy that will destroy the sport of running. Attacks will likely happen again and we can only do so much in a free society to maximize our security. So I suggest we use our heads and choose the best solutions rather than a quick fix illusion of safety that benefits no one.
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Benjamin Franklin