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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Go Pre... Eternally

How can you look at this photo and not love Track and Field?  
The Finn in front was Lasse Viren, who won the race and was suspected of blood doping.  We hated him. 
 Steve Prefontaine is the American in third place, who ultimately finished fourth in this unforgettable 5,000k  at the Munich 1972 Summer Olympics. I was on the UMass Track Team at the time and we all lived vicariously through the exploits of Pre, and others like Marty Liquori, the great miler from Villanova.  These guys were good runners and cool at the same time, and they were like the rock stars of Track and Field.  
This was a time when growing your hair long and wearing a mustache was a sign of individuality and rebellion, and Pre was definitely a rebel as he railed against the conservative ruling  agency of the sport... the American AAU.
We were all liberals then... because liberals represented change and change was required in a society that discriminated against minorities and women and sent our military to defeat in a civil war in Vietnam that was none of our business.
Now things seem to have changed.   Now Liberals like Elizabeth Warren lie about being a Cherokee Indian minority.   That's the kind of stuff that makes me label myself as conservative, which would have been unthinkable when Steve Prefontaine was running that race.
Prefontaine died in a tragic car accident 37 years ago.    You have to wonder what he would have done and where distance running would be in this country if he wasn't taken at such a young age....  but his spirit lives on in people who love the sport and remember the class and passion that he exhibited.

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