On Canceling Sporting Events in NY/NJ this weekend: Remember “A Nation of Wussies”?


I’m glad Bloomberg realized what an error it was to push on with the NY Marathon while large parts of New York were still without power and unable to clean up toxic and unsanitary flood areas in their homes. I still think the NBA games being held this weekend in New York and the NFL game should be re-scheduled (the NFL game later this week, the NBA games later in the season).

“We don’t cancel football games for bad weather”

I remember when the NFL league office wisely postponed a Monday night football game vs. the Minnesota Vikings due to a flash snowstorm putting Philadelphia in a brief state of emergency. Former PA Governor Former Philadelphia Mayor and current Eagles fan Ed Rendell was beating his chest saying that in China if it snowed they would have went ahead and hosted a sporting event no matter what the weather because they were tough and we were wussies.

What many folks who were also on the TV neglected to say in response to Rendell proclamations of toughness to all us American softies is that this is quite an illiberal argument.

One, we should respect the call by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to put the city into a state of emergency due to the probability of severe weather which was quite high, being that meteorologists (applied scientists) predicted a storm across the east coast.

Two, we should err on the side of reasonably expected public readiness when determining when we can get back to normal. Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe said:

“The roads are bad for East Coast standards,” Shiancoe said. “But if this was in the Midwest there would be no way that this would be delayed. No way it would be delayed in the Midwest. No way. … It’s something that baffles me. But I’m not here to make decisions on when games are played.”

Counties, cities and states in the Midwest have investments in infrastructure, automobiles and communities that are more resilient to winter storm weather because of it’s higher frequencies. Much greater investments than we do in Philadelphia. To accept that “roads are bad for East Coast standards” one has to acknowledge that East Coast governments plan for East Coast weather standards.

Three, what if the storm had been every bit as bad as expected? If danger had been increased and people had died or been injured, would it have been worth it?

Rendell viewed the NFL’s decision as a referendum on the toughness, or lack thereof, of the United States.

“My biggest beef is that this is part of what’s happened in this country,” Rendell said.

“We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything,” he added. “If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”

By Rendell’s estimation, the Marathon should go on. with calculus. Wussies in New York: buck up. The ‘thon is for the toughest of runners.

“North Korea is number one”

We don’t have to even guess what Rendell’s sports world would look like. In reviewing the extensive preparations for the 2008 Olympic games in Bejing, I would estimate that Rendell’s half right, they wouldn’t have called off the game, but they wouldn’t have had time for “calculus”:

…performers were injured, fainted from heatstroke or forced to wear adult diapers so the show could go on.


In the most extreme case, Beijing organizers revealed last week that Liu Yan, a 26-year-old dancer, was seriously injured during a July rehearsal. Shanghai media reported that she fell from a 10-foot stage and may be permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

Zhang, the ceremony’s director, visited Liu in the hospital and has told Chinese media that he deeply regrets what happened to her _ but he has also defended the training schedule his performers endured.

He told the popular Guangzhou weekly newspaper Southern Weekend that only communist North Korea could have done a better job getting thousands of performers to move in perfect unison.

“North Korea is No. 1 in the world when it comes to uniformity. They are uniform beyond belief! These kind of traditional synchronized movements result in a sense of beauty. We Chinese are able to achieve this as well. Through hard training and strict discipline,” he said. Pyongyang’s annual mass games feature 100,000 people moving in lockstep.

Performers in the West by contrast need frequent breaks and cannot withstand criticism, Zhang said, citing his experience working on an opera performance abroad. Though he didn’t mention specific productions, Zhang directed Tan Dun’s “The First Emperor,” starring Placido Domingo, at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2006.

“In one week, we could only work four and a half days, we had to have coffee breaks twice a day, couldn’t go into overtime and just a little discomfort was not allowed because of human rights,” he said of the unidentified opera production.

“You could not criticize them either. They all belong to some organizations … they have all kind of institutions, unions. We do not have that. We can work very hard, can withstand lots of bitterness. We can achieve in one week what they can achieve in two months.”

Back in 2010 Philadelphia, Workers took 48 hours to clear that stadium of snow that fell. It was a 7 inch snowfall by around 8:30PM that night So Rendell wanted a bunch of Philadelphians driving home in more than 7 inches of snow around midnight getting in the way of snow clearing plows and requiring city resources to be directed towards the football game. Well, North Korea and China would have done it. Thankfully Mayor Bloomberg decided against the marathon. Too much of New York is flooded and dark and cold to make that marathon OK.

We do save people from disasters. We don’t have to have a marathon while doing calculus and ignoring public danger. It’s the great thing about being an American.