Wait, what? Marathon Deaths Reflect Poorly on Detroit? Huh?

People not from the state of Michigan sure do LOVE to rag on it.  I don’t know what the state, or the city of Detroit in particular, ever did to those people, aside from birthing the automotive industry amongst other things, but it has never really seemed logical to me.  As soon as Detroit’s economy started to go in the gutter, it’s as if people instantly took the opportunity to jump all over the state of Michigan and anything that had to do with it.

The most common, “creative” slander from the pea sized minds is comparing Detroit to a third world country.  If it is dark and rainy out, people will probably find a way to relate it back to downtown’s resemblance.  If someone dies, people somehow find a way to make it about the auto industry or the abandoned buildings within the city.

Of course, some negative occurrences don’t help deflect the negative energy away from the state.  For example, Kwame Kilpatrick disgraced the entire state with his unspeakable actions while serving as the mayor of Detroit.  As a result, it added ammunition to the barrage of insults.  Detroit may never hear the end of that saga.

And I get it.  It’s an easy target for people to focus in on, to either ignore other shortcomings, perhaps from where they come from, or because it’s currently the proverbial fat kid in a game of dodgeball.  Of course, it doesn’t make it right at all, but I’ve never felt the need to step up and squash the pure idiocy.

Until now.

Yesterday, as many of you know already, three people died during the Detroit marathon. According to a Minneapolis cardiologist, marathon deaths are rare, about 0.8 deaths per 100,000 rare, so three deaths in Detroit’s 19,000 person marathon was highly abnormal.  An absolute tragedy to innocent people trying to run for some good cause, whether it be for a charity or for themselves to get in shape and prove they could do something so many people cannot even begin to think about doing.

And sure enough, leave it to people with a general disdain for the state of Michigan to not only show their utter lack of feelings toward the value of precious human lives, but also to have the nerve to point out that this is, somehow, just another blemish to the state’s overall record.

SB Nation for example, which supposedly prides itself for its bloggers’ professionalism, had no problem adding this depressing event to a list of reasons that would imply visiting Detroit is not a good thing.  Right, because if you visit Detroit you will somehow find yourself in the middle of a marathon and then die.

Rumors and Rants took a similar approach.  With a picture of a t-shirt that reads, “Detroit sucks” at the top of the post, they go through an entire list of things they think begs the question, “Seriously, does anything in Detroit not suck?” (which also happens to be the title of the post).

So to recap the past year for people from Detroit:
-Financial collapse kills virtually all industry in the town, including automakers.
-Detroit Pistons
trade team’s heart and soul, Chauncey Billups, to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Allen Iverson. Pistons regret move immediately.
-Detroit Lions go 0-16.
-Michigan State loses in
NCAA basketball championship game to North Carolina at Ford Field.
-Detroit Red Wings lose at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins in
game seven of the 2009 NHL Finals.
-Detroit Tigers collapse late in baseball season, are forced to play
one-game playoff with Minnesota Twins, lose after phenomenal game and miss the postseason.
-The Tigers have to pay a slowly decomposing corpse resembling Magglio Ordonez
$18 million in 2010after he gets enough at-bats to qualify for an automatic extension.
-Lions start 2009 season 1-5 and their prized franchise quarterback is
now injured.
-Three people die while running on the streets of the city.

I’ll take the time to respond to all nine right now.

1) I admit the national financial collapse has taken the biggest toll on Detroit and that sucks.

2) The Pistons most likely do not regret moving the aging Billups for the sake of one poor (still a playoff) season.  What they might regret is getting Allen Iverson who served as a team cancer, but the trade wasn’t so much about getting Iverson as it was about freeing up money to rebuild with a younger corps.

3) Yes, the Lions going 0-16 sucked.  Yet in homerism speak, it is no worse than going 1-15, 2-14, 3-13, or even missing the playoffs.  Actually, you could say it’s better because they actually got a number one draft pick out of it.

4) MSU, an underdog, going to the NCAA Championship game is hardly something that sucks about Detroit.  MSU was better than 60 other teams in that tournament and gave fans something to cheer about for a few weeks.  More than any other fans, aside from UNC’s, can say.

5)  Yes, the Red Wings losing at home in the Stanley Cup Finals sucked.  They were the clear favorites and should not have squandered a 3-2 series lead.  With that being said, Detroit has won 1/3 of the Stanley Cups in the past 12 seasons and 11 in their franchise history.  The Red Wings should not even be near a list of why “Detroit sucks.”

6)  Tigers gave fans more than they expected this season.  Not winning the division after being atop it for five months was disappointing, but again, fans had something to cheer about all season long when most MLB cities were already looking toward hockey/football/basketball season in June because their team couldn’t even stay in the race.  (Notice that you’ve mentioned four Michigan teams that were in the playoffs and/or finals for their respective sport.  That should be a clear indication that being a Detroit sports fan does NOT suck.  Some cities would love to have their teams at least be in the playoffs and/or Finals.)

7)  The contract is unfortunate, but Magglio was by far the Tigers best hitter in the second half of the season (.438) and they needed him to stay in the playoff race.

8) You mention 0-16 earlier and then use 1-5 as if it’s the worst thing.  As miniscule as it is, it’s an improvement.  Stafford being injured does suck, and not knowing how serious it is sucks, too.

9) “Three people dying while running on the streets of the city” isn’t exactly what happened.  These people were running a marathon, which is pretty damn grueling.  But yes, it sucked and is terribly sad.

Even though there are nine things on that list, and only about two which actually give any indication of why it might suck to be from Detroit, it’s hard to fathom how three random, personal health related deaths reflects on the city in any fashion.  Four people died in an England marathon last year, does that country suck because of that?

Let’s get effing real.

About Bob Biscigliano

Bob is a writer of s(p)orts