New York Marathon 2012: Debate over Controversial Event Won't Cease Anytime Soon

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 2, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06:  Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya celebrates after winning the Men's Division of the 42nd ING New York City Marathon on November 6, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The politics of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg may not typically make headlines, but he is certainly drawing the ire of many by continuing the city's 2012 marathon in the midst of a natural disaster.

In the midst of Hurricane Sandy's damage, the debate rages on about Bloomberg's controversial decision to permit the event to continue.

And the debate won't cease anytime soon because in the face of such a catastrophe, an athletic event is appearing to take priority over those displaced by the storm. A report by discusses the criticism Bloomberg has fielded for the decision, and he defends his stance by saying that New York is a "city where we have to go on."

Another report by the Associated Press (h/t NBC Sports) broke down the situation further:

New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Wednesday that organizers were preparing to use more private contractors than past years to reduce the strain on city services. Wittenberg insists the race can be an inspiration to New Yorkers and benefit businesses that have lost money because of the storm.

Bloomberg goes on to further justify himself by noting that the power should be back on by Sunday in New York. But wait, an annual athletic event can't wait even a little while so people can figure out where they will be living for the near future?

Longtime ESPN anchor Linda Cohn took to Twitter to express her displeasure with the mayor:

Can't believe NYC Mayor Bloomberg still hasn't canceled marathon. A more impressive stand would be to get power back on for 2.5 mil w/o it.

— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) November 2, 2012

Those who are outsiders of sports aren't going to—and shouldn't—let this issue die down for the foreseeable future.

The prioritization of athletics is prominent in society and often serves as a means of distraction and escapism from other issues that plague the world but are less entertaining and more depressing.

Just look at the simple fact that Bloomberg is in the press so much for this issue—sports-related—than any of his political stances in recent memory. It shows a deeply embedded, sports-dominant tendency even in the backdrop of a superstorm.

That became foggy of course once Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election (h/t New York Times) just as this marathon issue became a hot topic.

That's not to demonize all sports as a detriment to the world. Sometimes they can inspire stirring human interest stories, a much-needed, life-changing outlet or any other number of positive things.

It appears that's what Bloomberg is trying to accomplish by boldly marching forward in this sport's ultimate test of human endurance as much of the East Coast endures tragic circumstances.

He's missing the mark, though.

Since Bloomberg is the 10th-richest human in the United States (h/t Forbes), he may think that he's implementing a business-savvy strategy for sponsors and others involved with the marathon. Who knows, maybe he even considers keeping the race alive a legitimate public service.

Based on the backlash he's gotten already and the continued blowback he's likely to receive in this epitome of prioritization of sports, though, it's pretty clear that his suffering fellow citizens in New York and beyond don't share that sentiment.