Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Lowest Common Denominator


I'm not talking math here so all you propeller heads put your pencils down. I am talking about the dumbing down of America.

Politics
We see it in our news. No longer are major issues being discussed with open and bi-partisan panels; today we get news fed to us like I feed my 8 month old niece. "Open wide...here comes the train." (and what you should think) Every celebrity and sports figure spouting off on who they "endorse" for president...here is a secret We the people don't care what you think. The dangerous part of all this is that they do effect how the dumb people (and we have a lot of them) vote. Hit the right states and bam! Bad president. I'm not sure we can handle another one. This is a few in a row in my opinion. (I'll go back to Ronald Reagan as the last good president for all you youngsters out there.) We need another Reagan in the USA right now. I'm pretty sure nobody like that is running this fall.

Movies
Our movies are also lowered so everyone can understand them. I saw the latest Indiana Jones movie and in the theatre I couldn't help but notice that the kids were most excited when there was gratuitous crashing or squishing in the movie. They couldn't stay with the plot (even if it was mostly recycled work that could have been found in any of the previous three movies.) I've heard of some parents "requiring" their children to watch the first three movies before they'd take them to the latest Jones movie. Probably a good move, they'll get the jokes if they are observant. Maybe I'm getting old...bring on a movie that makes me think. As for this Jones movie...wait until it is on cable and save your time and money. Those are two hours of my life I'll never get back.
Jobs or Work
Unless we explain policy, process and procedure to the people I manage...they don't get it. If you don't get it you shouldn't be working here in the first place because at some point people have to understand WHY they do what they do. I have to break things down into little bit sized work packages and still people look at me like I'm crazy. These are like small pieces of food that you'd cut up for a young child when they are first eating solid food in a highchair. At some point, don't these people deserve to be unemployed or working labor jobs? Look around at the services you purchase...airlines, vacations, restaurants all have rules broken down so far that an ape or well trained dog could do the job.

Sports
If you watch "major league" sports (aka: popular sports) you have an organ or music and a scoreboard to tell you when to cheer. In triathlon, we have rules about wearing your helmet for crying out loud. I say if anyone doesn't want to wear a helmet let them. One less person to race if they crash since I'm in the biggest age group in races these days. Just don't let their family file a law suit. In the Ironman we now separate the professionals and age group or amateur racers from the start, giving the pros a head start. This was because some of the elites were getting "beaten up" or cut off by some of the top amateurs. Isn't that part of the race? It was in the original race! It also dumbs down the World Championship because an amateur athlete cannot go toe to toe with a professional. So even if an amateur were to be winning the race overall you would never know until the next day. Especially in an event called "IRONMAN" it should be survival of the fittest from the beginning. The big triathlon governing bodies are trying to regulate who can "cross a finish line" of a race because every Ironman finish is becoming an episode of Entourage. Everyone from the infant to great grandma crossing with the racer. The hard part for an organization like Ironman...this is becoming part of the experience. So how do you enforce the rules (legislation) as they should and provide the great "customer experience" in a fringe sport with race entry fees of $500 and equipment and travel costs approaching $15,000? Imagine you finished Ironman Hawaii and were DQ'd because you had three family members jogging with you toward the finish line. No medal. No blue finishing t-shirt with the white writing. (This is a DQ if you follow the rules; outside aid and unsportsmanlike conduct - both DQable offenses.) When do rules that everyone should follow (for the racer and family member's own safety I might add) actually need to be enforced? Who's fault is it if someone is crossing the finish line with a young child and two guys are racing for a Kona slot or first place in their division or a podium sport (in Kona); the person carrying the child gets accidentally knocked over. Falls on the child. Bones are broken. Who pays for the medical bills? Everyone feels badly...but this will happen one day if we don't enforce the rules for the lowest common denominator. Sure, everyone wants their family to enjoy the moment. I'd like mine in one piece to celebrate afterwards. I don't need them on MY FINISH LINE to understand that they supported me to get to that moment.

Schools
Just today, Arlington Heights, IL school district has banned the bringing of cake or cupcakes to school to celebrate a child's birthday. So in other words, our parents and school districts are so dumb (regarding nutrition) that the school district must regulate how we celebrate a birthday. These are kids! One cupcake is not going to make a grade school class obese! Every parent I know really watches what their children eat and how much as well as their children's activities; playing sports after school, limiting TV viewing and video games, everything. Do we really need someone legislating how our children will eat? I certainly hope not. But the school district is saying that parents in Arlington Heights (a ritzy, well educated NW suburb of Chicago) can't figure this out. If I was a parent there, I'd be pretty mad.

So here I sit, being monitored for my Internet usage at work because some of my co-workers cannot balance their workloads and what they do online. I have a child-safe cap on my drink. A pair of scissors with rounded points so I don't hurt myself. Gee, I'm not sure what to think so I better turn on CNN or Fox or maybe The View.

Whats next? A padded office?

3 comments:

  1. This is why I really enjoy reading your blog, Bob. Because you challenge us to THINK. And you challenge SOCIETY to THINK. Sadly - many do not. Too often the CNN, FOX, The VIEW have become the "norm". Go to a pre-race meeting at a high caliber race (ironman or not), and people as the most idiotic of questions. Last one I went to, a lady was concerned about having her neighbor's bike "inches" too close to her own.

    It was USAT Nationals. Go figure.

    You are right about the IM Finish Line. I've thought about having 2 finishing corrals - one for individuals with families and one for just the individual athlete. That way, a guy and his 4 kids won't get mowed over by an overly ambitios age group female who happens to live in Pensacola (last year Timberman). We were both civil towards each other afterwards - and I totally appreciated him and his kids - but I didn't like the 3 year old zig-zagging as I tried to finish my race.

    In the end, it boils down to the individual.

    Thanks for your posts Bob - always a pleasure!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Marit. I just want to understand when we will enforce the rules at races so I know when I should follow them.

    When I first started racing (I must be getting old) if someone would have asked a question like that so many people would have made fun of him/her that they wouldn't have shown up to the race.

    Just like...if you drafted, the least of your problems would be a 4:00 minute penalty. Your training partners and people you barely know would be pointing at you and calling you a cheater or drafter all winter, spring and into the following season.

    Something MUST BE DONE about finish lines. The competition is getting to great and someone is going to get hurt. Probably a kid. In 2005, I saw an accident 10' from the T2 in Kona. A German lady waved and yelled to her husband a 50+ guy who waved back on the turn closing in on the finish. He took his eyes off the road and crashed. He hit his eye on the metal barrier and is one of the most disgusting, bloody messes I've ever seen. He had a flap of skin over his eye the size of a chicken breast from the gash and his eye (pupil) was white. He was asking to get stitched up to try and run the marathon and she was totally hysterical to the point where I had to ask THREE police officers to hold her back as we put them into an ambulance.

    Point is...she shouldn't have been trying to get his attention at the end of a downhill coming into an S curve.

    When something bad happens - the Monday morning quarterbacking will be long and furious. (As will the law suits.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Marit. I just want to understand when we will enforce the rules at races so I know when I should follow them.

    When I first started racing (I must be getting old) if someone would have asked a question like that so many people would have made fun of him/her that they wouldn't have shown up to the race.

    Just like...if you drafted, the least of your problems would be a 4:00 minute penalty. Your training partners and people you barely know would be pointing at you and calling you a cheater or drafter all winter, spring and into the following season.

    Something MUST BE DONE about finish lines. The competition is getting to great and someone is going to get hurt. Probably a kid. In 2005, I saw an accident 10' from the T2 in Kona. A German lady waved and yelled to her husband a 50+ guy who waved back on the turn closing in on the finish. He took his eyes off the road and crashed. He hit his eye on the metal barrier and is one of the most disgusting, bloody messes I've ever seen. He had a flap of skin over his eye the size of a chicken breast from the gash and his eye (pupil) was white. He was asking to get stitched up to try and run the marathon and she was totally hysterical to the point where I had to ask THREE police officers to hold her back as we put them into an ambulance.

    Point is...she shouldn't have been trying to get his attention at the end of a downhill coming into an S curve.

    When something bad happens - the Monday morning quarterbacking will be long and furious. (As will the law suits.)

    ReplyDelete