The Metric System: Rojo Waves the White Flag...Sort Of

Red ShannonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2010

Okay. I'm ready.

I'm gonna reject my All-American, red-white-and-blue independent streak and just do it!

I'm gonna swallow a lifetime of indoctrination and train myself in a new way of thinking.

Stubbornness, pride and tradition (treasured American commodities) must finally yield to common sense.

I'm (gulp)...going metric.

My knuckles bear the scars of too many stripped bolt heads. Foreign-made cars should supply their own metric tool kit as standard equipment.

The time-and-temperature sign at the bank has me reeling between a hot 95 degrees and a cool 35.

I nearly popped a tire yesterday, trying to inflate it to 35 psi. I backed off when I noticed the pressure gauge was metric and I "only" had 3.5 kg/cm (50 psi!).

This long-time Yankee holdout is soon to join the (ahem) global community. Normally, when it comes down to "us" against the world, I'm up for the fight. But in the metric war, I'm finally ready to concede.

A paradigm shift of such personal magnitude could only have been spawned by some deep-seated feelings: in this case, my infatuation with the sport of Track and Field.

The breaking point for me came last weekend, during one of Track and Field's busiest and most productive weekends of the new year. With multiple "world-bests" and several college and meet records, my fingers were a flurry of activity, flipping back and forth to my metric conversion tables.

You see, I haven't yet wrapped my brain around a 2.3 meter high jump or a 22.0 meter shot put. I'm simply not properly impressed by these meaningless numbers.

However, converted to 7 feet, 6 inches and 72 feet respectively, I am quick to give the marks their due respect.

In this one area, I envy the rest of the world: when the metric values are posted, they know immediately the significance of those numbers. Even American athletes and hard-core Track and Field fans are up to speed with metrics.

So I'll give you this much: that's where I want to be.

But lest the rest of the world thinks it has me in a weakened, vulnerable position, I offer this: You can't take away my Mile Run!

And never—ever—think Americans will play football or baseball on a field measured in meters!

Metric converter (Keep it. I won't be needing it.)