Because we're pussies.
Yeah, I know, we'll get tons of posts here saying that a 10 miler is tougher than a doing bench presses, but hear me out. Two cases in point:
1. Usain Bolt - the greatest sprinter ever apparently - is not racing this weekend because he had some thorns in his feet REMOVED. Not still there. But taken out. And he's ok. But won't run as a precaution, and to rest. From what? Remember when Michael Jordan had the flu...and then proceeded to drop 38 on the Jazz? He sucked it up. Ronnie Lott has part of his finger amputated at halftime once! And we've got a guy who had some thorns in his foot a few days ago?
2. Haile Geb: I love the guy. One of my favorite athletes growing up. But he just time trials nowadays. Won't race other big names. Prevents them from even getting in the same race...scared of getting beat. Can you imagine Tiger Woods skipping the Masters because he was worried about losing to Phil Michelson or the rest of the field? Nope. He shows up and plays his best. If it's not good enough that day, it's not good enough. He goes back to the drawing board, and tries again.
It's not as if these things are rare cases - you see it all the time. Stars duck, won't race each other. Remember all the hub-bub of trying to get Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay to actually race each other? How many times do you think the top sprinters are going to race before Worlds this year? And distance runners do it to. Every tiny injury - real or percieved - is an excuse not to run.
When I go to see another sport - I want to see the stars play. I understand if there are injuries - we've got disabled lists. Sucks that Kevin Garnett is injured, but it happens. But not every minor injury keeps someone out like it does in track. And while I want the stars to have incredible performances when I see them, I understand that people have off days, and some days you're not at your best. I don't expect my football team to win every game (though I root for them) and I don't expect my favorite players to homer every game (though I'd like to see it.) I want to see people show up and compete. When the Yankees play the Red Sox (even though I detest both teams) I know that the teams are going to show up and play. I'd be rightly pissed if the Yanks sat Jeter because it's the Red Sox and they're scared he might not get a hit and ruin his average.
But in the track/pussy world, that's ok. Man, if I were Tyson Gay I'd be pissed that we dropped the stick last year, and the first chance I got to run against the Jamaicans I'd be there. But nope - it's a Nike meet, so he won't show up to Penn Relays. We're pussies - and we won't become a legitimate sport until we stop.