A few quotes to get you thinking.
On the founding of LRC:
And a classic.
(We were) two young men that were tired of seeing the sport they loved being promoted primarily as a fitness activity. Thus we started Letsrun to promote the SPORT of running and a main goal at the beginning was to get the knowledge of John Kellogg out there as well as proper training advice.
Question: Letsrun (or maybe just its trolls) is notoriously criticized as being elitist, anti-hobbyjogger, and anti-women. What is your response to this criticism?
I don’t think being pro-elite is being anti-hobby jogger. The two really aren’t related or at least they shouldn’t be. I think the site and even those on the message board try to really promote elite accomplishment. I think some website visitors do get bitter when a non-elite accomplishment, like say a Dean Karnazes feat, is promoted in a way that makes him a bigger deal than say a Chicago Marathon winner. They shouldn’t but they do. I think it stems from the fact that some people who are really into running don’t like it when a non-elite performance is equated with being elite.
I don’t get why some may be anti-hobby jogging. To me, running is a great activity that everyone should be encouraged to do. However, I just don’t think that someone who plays pickup basketball is the same as being in the NBA. Does promoting a 2:35 marathoner as being a bigger deal than 3:30 marathoner mean I am anti-hobby jogging?
As for being anti-women, I think the website visitors are skewed male and thus on the message board you get a lot of guy talk. Whether we wish it to be true or not, guys are interested in what women look like. It’s hard to deny that fact. I mean there is a reason why Gisele Bundchen makes twice as much money as Tom Brady. I’m not sure what we really are supposed to do on that front except moderate things to the best of our ability.
Do men’s performances get a little bit more front page publicity? Yes, they do. But that’s natural. Given the sexism that exists in Africa and the Middle East, men’s running is way, way deeper than women’s running. However, running and tennis are the only sports in the world where the women’s version is anywhere near the men’s in terms of exposure. And I’m not sure what we are supposed to do with the fact that when watching men’s sports you are watching the “absolute best” versus the “relative best.” For the same reasons that pro sports are more popular than high school sports, I think men’s sports are more popular than women’s sports. Whether we wish it to be true or not, it’s just more interesting for most people to watch a human being long jump close to 30 feet (men’s world record) versus 25 feet (women’s world record).
But I take great offense to someone who thinks I’m personally sexist. My first job out of college was working for a women’s professional tennis tournament. That was when women’s pro basketball was starting as well. I remember thinking maybe I should try to work with the ABL, as I thought they were really into promoting women’s sports, unlike the WNBA which I thought was just trying to protect the turf of the NBA. Plus, the first person I ever coached, and really the only semi-elite person I coached before starting at Cornell was a woman who was one of the first steeplechase competitors for women at USAs.