Friday, September 20, 2013

Please tell Kevin Helliker to get off my lawn

The current generation is really screwing things up. We are lazy, narcissistic, and promiscuous. We demand too much praise. We are too materialistic. To that list you can add that we have no competitive spirit, at least according to Kevin Helliker. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Helliker brags about bemoans placing in the top 11% of the Chicago Triathlon. Without even considering the far simpler explanation that none of the real triathletes were competing at the sprint distance, Helliker immediately offers the generational doom-and-gloom hypothesis.
Is there an unwritten rule mandating that only the flimsiest evidence be presented in these kinds of articles? To support his thesis, Helliker makes the following points:
  • Some guy named Ryan Lamppa agrees with him. (I have never in my life heard of Ryan Lamppa, and I have no idea why I am supposed to care what Ryan Lamppa thinks about anything.)
  • Americans haven't medalled in the marathon since 2004. Of course Flanagan's 10k medal in 2008 and Rupp's 10k medal in 2012 don't count. Did you know that Kenyan women totally suck at the Marathon? They have never won an Olympic marathon gold.
  • Median marathon finish times have gone up since 1980. This must because young American's are leading this great nation into a hellhole of apathy and despair. It certainly couldn't be related to the explosive growth in marathoners over the last several decades. To get an idea of the number of people entering the sport, notice that total running population in the United States increased 15% in just a single year, between 2007 and 2008.
  • Hipster Olympics! Because no article of this kind is complete without hipster bashing.
  • Helliker concludes with lovely symmetry, quoting some guy named Brendan Reilly. My earlier remarks apply to Reilly, mutatis mutandis.
The weakness of the arguments presented should lead to this article being graded as a C or C. (Why not an F, you say? Credit where credit is due: Helliker does have a reasonable command of the English language and at least took the trouble to structure his facts in an appealing order.) I am, however, a millenial, so it is only appropriate that I give him an A for effort. Bravo!