Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sad way to make the LI Marathon a big event

Tragedy of the commons
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

A few years ago, when I was frequently engaged with the MIT Media Lab, I was fortunate to spend time with Dan Airely who taught economics at the Sloan School of Management. Dan writes books about behavior, honesty and irrationality that are well worth reading. He used to talk about an economic concept known as the "Tragedy of the commons", that describes how the self-interest of a few people can negatively affect the larger society.

This concept is usually tied to selfish actions leading to broader consequences, like over-fishing a lake or poaching endangered animals. In today's world, I see it every time I pass through Penn Station where I see police and National Guardsmen patrolling with large automatic weapons. That has been a common sight since September 12, 2001, but it's still hard to get used to. I'm not complaining - I fully appreciate the need - but it's sad that everyone's behaviors have to change to protect against a harmful few.

This morning, I was watching the local news while Ed Mangano held a press conference. Mangano stated that, "In light of the tragic events that occurred at the Boston Marathon earlier this month, we have put forth enhanced security measures for the safety of the Long Island Marathon participants, spectators, and all members of our community." This involves the use of radiation detectors, K-9 bomb sniffing units and extra police.

If you've ever participated in the LI Marathon Festival of Races, you might react as I did to this. It's a really nice event, but I think the biggest concern the organizers should have is whether they'd rented enough Port-O-Potties. I wouldn't expect this race would be targeted by miscreants, but what do I know? The RXR LI Marathon has always aspired to be a "big race" event. Sadly, it's taken the atrocity in Boston to make that happen.

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