Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Darren Rovell's blog posts on Meb hot topic in the running community...

CNBC.com sports business writer Darren Rovell's post on ING New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi (left/photo from US Olympic Marathon Trials by Paul Merca), has touched a raw nerve among people in the running community, if you read the comments posted at the end of the article.

A few hours after I posted my take on Darren Rovell's article, Rovell issued an apology on his page, the contents of which you can read here.

The comments left on my Facebook page, especially from those who I consider to be insiders of the sport, came fast and furious over the last 24 hours, when I posted links to Rovell's original article on cnbc.com, along with the New York Times' article.

Instead of calming the readers down, his follow up post got folks even more fired up, as there were about 13 pages (at 7:30 pm, pacific time on Tuesday) of comments, nearly all of which read to the effect that Darren's apology was not enough, and disingenuous to Keflezighi, his family, friends, support system, and so forth.

He wrote, "Frankly I didn't account for the fact that virtually all of Keflezighi's running experience came as a US citizen. I never said he didn't deserve to be called American."

"All I was saying was that we should celebrate an American marathon champion who has completely been brought up through the American system."

"This is where, I must admit, my critics made their best point. It turns out, Keflezighi moved to the United States in time to develop at every level in America. So Meb is in fact an American trained athlete and an American citizen and he should be celebrated as the American winner of the NYC Marathon."

This sentence leads one to ask, "If Meb were an Anglo-American, would the American sporting public, or for that matter, the American running community react differently?"

What is so galling is the fact that Rovell fails to admit that he didn't do the research on Meb's history, including the fact that he won an Olympic silver medal in the marathon for the USA at the 2004 Olympics in Athens--or if he did, he conveniently left that out.

A post on his Twitter page (twitter.com/darrenrovell1) Monday, where he writes, "If u move here @ age 12, u aren't American-born. USA running still has a problem even w/Meb win" suggests that he maybe--just maybe--he did know about Meb's history.

The bottom line? At best, Darren's apology comes off as half-assed. I quite frankly am disappointed, especially considering that Rovell is a damn good reporter who normally is very thorough in researching his topics, especially in the sports business field.

Curiously enough, USA Track & Field, and Meb's sponsor, Nike, have not issued a statement supporting Keflezighi. It's my hope that they are speaking to Darren behind the scenes and educating Rovell on Meb.

One person who has spoken out is New York Road Runners head Mary Wittenberg, who tweeted on her page, "Meb's not only American. He's living the American dream. So happy for him!"

What's your take on this? If you have any thoughts, please post it in the comments section, but please keep it clean and civil. Any comments construed as slanderous, libelous, etc., will be deleted.

1 comment:

pjm said...

Much as I would like to see NYRR or USATF take a bite out of Rovell, it's probably tricky for them to do so in the appropriately diplomatic tone.

They should, though, because the second layer to Rovell's appallingly ignorant comments about Meb is that he dismissed the efforts of the many people who spent time, money and effort building and running the support system behind Meb, Dathan, Deena, Ryan, et al.

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