After a considerable public controversy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed down on Friday and said the New York Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, would be canceled. Maybe that's for the best, given the public furor. There's no reason at this difficult time to engage in a huge public battle over a sporting event.
But it's too bad the city and New York Road Runners, the marathon's organizers, couldn't find a way to reschedule.
A quickly rescheduled event could have proceeded in a dignified way that remembered New York’s hurricane victims while honoring its first responders and the region's powerful spirit of resilience
Done with proper respect for the devastation we’ve suffered, it could have been a morale-booster for beleaguered New Yorkers and a celebration of the unconquerable human spirit.
Sunday's marathon was intended to raise money for the city and for the victims of superstorm Sandy. In all, it was projected to bring $340 million into the city—revenue New York and its businesspeople urgently need. And the Road Runners had promised to donate $1 million to a fund for storm recovery, an amount they hoped to double with donations.
Tourism and events like the New York Marathon have become one of the city’s most important economic engines, bringing new revenue and investments into every borough at a time when other parts of the economy are struggling.
The New York Road Runners said they wanted to make Sunday an amazing day for New Yorkers to come together—to remember those who were lost, to raise money for charity and to help the city.
It wasn't a bad idea. As Bloomberg put it before the decision to cancel: “You can grieve, you can laugh, and you can cry—all at the same time.”