A reader writes:
I seem to be in a very small minority here but I think canceling the NYC marathon was a stupid idea. Or, more accurately, people wanting to cancel the marathon (you included) are misinformed and mal-intentioned. It's hard to blame Bloomberg and the people who put the marathon on since the growing protests more or less forced their hands.
The marathon brings a $340 million dollar economic boost to the area. Considering that this storm is estimated to cost us $50 billion $, I think it's quite shortsighted to turn that down. Some of the biggest beneficiaries from this marathon windfall are restaurants, which are some of the hardest hit businesses from the storm. The marathon pays the city $1.6 million to put on the marathon. Will this telethon that is on right now even raise that much?
Logistically, the marathon is doable. We have 35,000 police officers. Having 500-1000 of them spend six hours directing traffic to reap a nice economic boom for the area is not a misapplication of resources. Furthermore, these resources (water, generators, volunteers, hotel rooms) are not zero-sum. Cancelling the marathon is not going to make them magically help with the recovery. Those generators that were to power the finish line area weren't pulled away from powering homes in Staten Island.
Traffic could be an issue but most of the subway system will be back up by Sunday. The buses are all back. The ferry is back. The city is getting back to normal. The city makes this marathon work each year in regards to emergency vehicles. Not that emergency vehicles are even a huge issue at the moment – the storm was almost a week ago and it's not like there are a lot of urgent medical issues.
Some people say it's "too soon". When is it not too soon? There [was a Knicks game last night] at Madison Square Garden. How is that not inappropriate at this time? It's also drawing away resources (police, food, etc). Why are we allowing this to go on? Staten Island was hard hit but the Staten Island Mall is open. How is waiting in line at the Apple store for an iPad Mini not more "disrespectful" than running a marathon?
I can understand the frustration, especially in Staten Island. One reader pointed out the anger at the police gathering for the marathon but ignoring looters a few miles away. This is an issue but it's a logistic issue. Furthermore, this issue would exist without the marathon. The NYPD has more than enough officers (35,000, as mentioned above) – it's just a matter of making sure they get where they need to be. That is the issue, not the marathon.
Perhaps I'm biased as a runner, but marathons are about hard work and sacrifice as you work towards an end goal. The values that a marathon represents are the values that NYC needs right now. Even more so, the NYC Marathon is about community and pulling together as a unified five-borough city. This is what we need now. We should have gotten up early on Sunday, cheered the runners on as they went by, and then gone and volunteered the rest of the day. Instead, New Yorkers sat at their computers, bitched about it, and inadvertently gave businesses in the area another kick while they were down.