Letter to the Editor: Comments on unfinished Marathon ‘insensitive’

I read with dissatisfaction the article “Marathon tragedy hits home” in The Chronicle, which reported on U students’ experiences with the Boston bombings. In particular, a student’s quote caught my attention, “You feel bad for the 4,000 people that didn’t get to finish because they closed the race. They trained just as hard, and they don’t get to finish.”
I would have assumed that it would be obvious to all — including the editorial staff — that this is an extremely insensitive and callous comment to publish a day after three people — including an 8-year-old child — were killed while dozens more were seriously injured. It goes without saying — I thought — that a discussion about whether or not some were able to finish an athletic event should not even be mentioned in the same article with words like “bombing” and “killing.” As an athlete myself, I understand wanting to challenge one’s self and gain a sense of accomplishment.
But, I have always found it a bit disturbing just how seriously one can take an athletic event. If anything, tragedies like this should remind us just how excessive and self-indulgent some of our athletic goals can be and help us keep in mind what is really important in life.
My guess — and hope — is that those 4,000 runners who were unable to finish are thankful that they didn’t lose their life or the life of a loved one and are more concerned about those that did than checking off the “Boston Marathon” box on the life to-do list.

Mark Fluchel,
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Administration