Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meb Keflezighi's not American enough?!? Darren Rovell, please tell me you're joking...

Folks in the American running community had reason to celebrate Meb Kefezighi's (left, #999/file photo from 2005 World Championships by Paul Merca) victory in the ING New York City Marathon Sunday, as Keflezighi ended a 27-year streak of foreign winners in one of the world's most prestigious big city marathon races.

Unfortunately, some people in the mainstream media, most notably CNBC's Darren Rovell--a guy who I should point out is normally one of the sharpest journalists on issues dealing with sports business--chose to think that Meb's win wasn't all that it's cracked up to be.

In his blog post of November 2nd, Rovell described the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist's win as, "Nothing against Keflezighi, but he's like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league."

Are you kidding me?

Are you FREAKING kidding me?!?

I'd use some other words, but I'm not going to go there.

I will say this--his post is one of the most off-base and ignorant pieces I've ever read in quite a long while. Not only that, what he wrote borders on racism. I've got to say that Darren obviously didn't do his research.

Incidentally, the last American to win the New York City Marathon--Alberto Salazar--wasn't born in the United States, but emigrated to America from Cuba.

For those that have followed the sport for a long time, Meb has always been at the forefront in this country. He didn't begin to run competitively until he came to the United States from Eritrea via Italy, and was developed as a runner in the San Diego public school system, beginning in the late 1980s.

In 1993, he finished second in the Foot Locker national high school cross country championships in his home town to a guy you might have heard of--Adam Goucher.

(Incidentally, did you see the finish line tape when Meb crossed the line--it had Foot Locker's logo--a company that is one of the biggest supporters of the sport, and whose program Meb was a beneficiary of as a prep)

His talents earned him a scholarship to UCLA, where he earned his degree in Communication Studies and a specialization in business--and oh, by the way, won four NCAA individual championships under the tutelage of Bob Larsen, who remains his coach to this day.

I felt compelled to write this piece because I consider myself first and foremost a friend of Meb's. I've been privileged enough to work and travel with Meb on three USA national cross country teams, and countless national championship races.

It's my hope that those of you who read this give Darren a piece of your mind--but as Merhawi Keflezighi, Meb's brother and agent said on his Facebook page, "please let Darren Rovell of CNBC know just how American Meb is. And let's do it respectfully."

Here's a link to an article in the New York Times discussing Meb's citizenship and why mainstream America hasn't exactly embraced him, along with a link to letsrun.com.

On a more positive note, Meb appeared on David Letterman's show Monday night--here's the link, courtesy CBS:

1 comment:

mIGo said...

Darren is an ignorant jerk. Meb is the face of the new America. Just because he wasn't born in the USA doesn't make him "not American enough." The Governor of California was born in Austria for crying out loud. Meb made Americans proud this weekend, and given American distance runners even more hope.

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