Monday, April 11, 2016

Banned From Boston: Trust and Fairness. The Follow-up

“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The day after some bloggers and others examined some of the claims Gia Alvarez made concerning the reasons for her ban from all future BAA races, she posted "Apologizes".
"To the running community,  
I apologize for both the bib transfer and for using a time that wasn’t mine. Please understand that I respect the BAA and the Boston Marathon. I personally know how hard it is to qualify and how hard we runners work to have the privilege of running this marathon.
I made a mistake, I made a bad decision and I have been punished.  I feel very sorry. 
My hope is that with this apology the hatred out there can stop.  Running is about camaraderie, I am so sorry for bringing negativity out of the community that I think is beautiful.  We all make mistakes, we are human.  I claim this mistake with no excuses and accept the punishment with as much dignity as possible.   
I wish all of those runners running in the 2016 Boston Marathon a great race and many happy miles."   
When I first read this I thought, hold on. What does she mean by: "I am so sorry for bringing negativity out of the community that I think is beautiful."???  Along with her hope that the 'hate' stops, she again seems to be shifting some blame for the whole boondoggle on others. First, I don't think that there is HATE. Moral condemnation is not hate. Moral condemnation is something that a moral community has a right and even a duty to express. Moreover to say that she brought "negativity out of the community" implies that any criticism is "negativity" which again, I disagree with. It's as though her actions brought outs some darkness in us all, and that is NOT the case. No. It is not the community that is negative, it is the communty that has a right to call members on their immoral actions. Not hate. Not negativity. An apology with the little added jab at the 'community' accused of being negative blames others and shows that real responsibility is not being accepted here.
My approach and response to these sorts of actions by members of a community does NOT concern rules or set codes of behavior but, rather, concerns trust. As members of a communty we must trust others and we must not violate the trust of others. This is what makes a group a true communty. Because trust is the stuff the sticks a community together then the violation of that trust must be addressed. Therefore my response does not arise out or hate or negativity but instead love of the community and the value that a community offers.
Fairness is also an attribute that all successful communities embrace, defend and practice. Without it there is no community, just unconnected number of individuals. Now it has come to my attention that the friend who used her bib in 2015, is running Boston in 7 days. And she is indeed on the entrants list. This seems unfair if Gia is banned due to the bib transgression (not the BQ lie) then both should be banned as well. Fairness concerns treating like things in a like manner. If the rules apply to one they should apply to all.
Based on trust and fairness, I don't think that the community is being negative or hateful. This is just how a community should respond to those who violate the things that make a community valuable. 
Community is nothing more or less than those things that keep us connected, even when we disagree. Trust and fairness are non-negotiable. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Banned From Boston: Innocent Mistake or Cheating?

"I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating." ~ Sophocles
Let's suppose that you've qualified for Boston in the past, say for  both 2014 and 2015. Let's say you register are accepted but are unable to run due to circumstances beyond your control. You figure, well, I have this bib might as well let someone else use it since I worked hard for it and paid for it. Then the BAA is tipped off and you are banned from all future BAA races. You claim your mistake was 'innocent' and, in retrospect, a huge mistake. But you are sorry. You believe that this could happen to anyone.

Should you be banned?

This is the story of Gia Alvarez, a popular blogger and coach (!!!). This, an innocent mistake at best or a brief lapse of judgement at worst, something she claims we have all done, is why she is not running Boston 2016. I beg to differ. I believe that the real issue is an ethical issue, not the one she is responding to. I hate giving her more traffic, but you read and decide:
Why I’m not running Boston 2016. A Cautionary Tale.
She opens with: "Otherwise titled …. It Could Happen to You."

On the face of it the bib rule is NOT the issue I really care about - though I am well aware that this is an issue for races concerning logistics, safety, etc. And the BAA has a right to set the rules for their races! Violate the rules and pay the price. All runners must recognize this and accept the consequences - and if you don't know the rules find out! Ignorance in this case is no excuse. In my opinion this was not just a little lapse of good judgement.

What she doesn't say in the piece, though is what's important to me. 
This is the timeline she gives:
Missed Boston 2014 due to a miscarriage.
Missed Boston 2015 because she was pregnant.

So the question is: What qualifier did she use for Boston 2016? The answer seems to be Boston 2015, which her friend ran in 3:22:41. SHE does not have a qualifier any more recent than Chicago 2013 (according to the records I can find - if someone wants to prove otherwise I am open!). And the timeline concerning both the miscarriage and the pregnancy make it almost impossible for her to have run another qualifier.

I was in a similar situation 3 years ago when I injured myself 12 days before Boston 2013 and ultimately made the decision to drop-out. I could have given my bib to someone else. Perhaps they would have run a nice BQ for me. But no. I dropped out and set off, after recovering form my injury, to qualify again. And so I ran Boston 2015. Then I qualified some more.

As a coach myself, I believe that I have a moral duty to adhere to a professional code of ethics. Cheating is just not part of that code. She too is a coach and I cannot imagine what sort of example this sets for others - She writes this piece, claiming that she wants to make an example of herself while refusing to answer the question about her 2016 qualifying time. As a coach this is an unacceptable breach of any reasonable code of professional ethics.

So, while we may take issue with the 'rules' that seem silly, the real issue here is that she cheated and used someone elses time for her Boston 2016 registration. I'm sure she can somehow justify this due to the fact that she could have run a qualifier (based on her other times) - but she didn't. Oh well. Requalify for 2017 after recovering from pregnancy and a c-section!

I don't think it matters in the least that she is capable of running the time. She didn't run this time in this race. Worse, her cheating took one spot from someone who DID run a qualifying race.

The poor me, I'm a victim of silly rules, this could happen to anyone position and attitude is just wrong!

"Otherwise titled …. It Could Happen to You." ???????????????

No. This won't happen to me because I won't cheat. You may have 'innocently' broken the rules, but you don't deserve to run because you do not have a qualifier. That is simple and clear. You cheated. Period. This transgression may seem like much ado about nothing to some, but liars and cheaters really burn my toast! And when one tries to imply that they are just like me, just like all of us, I want to scream, NO no no. Not so.

Sorry. But this is NOT a cautionary tale. And the only 'victim' is that one person who might be running instead of you. Cheaters suck!

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