Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It Ain't Just Joe Pa

As I get older, grayer, and balder, days and even the years are becoming a blur. In my mind's eye, I'm still a highly-conditioned, well-trained athlete. Reality is far different. But this post isn't about that. It's about child abuse, not just child sexual abuse.

Before I get into that, let me tell you about my last truly competitive race. The Philadelphia Marathon. 2005. Seems like yesterday. I can still taste the explosion of flavors from my favorite pre-race food, a Vietnamese beef broth soup called Pho. I can still see my grandson triumphantly walk into the place as though he owns it, basketball in hand. I can still see the pretty, seemingly carefree women, promenading on South Street and in Chinatown, looking for bargains and oranges. I can still remember those long lines to dirty port-a-potties. And a crowd so large that I spent most of the first mile walking. When I finally was able to run, nearly the first thing I did was step right into a pothole and break my ankle. I carried on for five miles until I could no longer bear the pain, and waited for the sag wagon, defeated. My traveling companion, who was way ahead of me after the starting gun fired, went on to win her age group. But this post isn't about that.

Unable to run, with a foot immersed in ice, I let the cacophony of Philly serenade me. It's my favorite big city. Always has been. I've run the Philly Marathon twice before the indignity of 2005, actually completing those races. No matter where you go, people urge you on. At one point, there's a fellow who rages on a drum, year after year. Farther along, you can hear the faint melody of bagpipes, growing stronger as you get closer. You don't really notice the miles dropping away until you hit the 20th. At that point, you're really on your own, no matter how many people are cheering.

It's a demanding, grueling event. Not really healthy at all, especially when you realize that its first runner, a Greek messenger named Pheidippides, dropped dead as a doornail as soon as he was finished. It takes between six months and a year of training, running long runs every other weekend, to be able to just complete a marathon, to say nothing of racing. It's for mutants, crazy people, bottom-feeding bloggers and Kenyans. I've run 13 of them in my lifetime, so that should give you some indication of what's wrong with me.

Before an injury, and then laziness, consumed me for six years, I was pretty much up on the dos and don'ts of distance running. And one of the biggest don'ts is high school students and long-distance running. A 26.2 mile distance is punishing enough for an adult. For a person who is still growing, running long distances can damage growth plates. I always figured that was why high school cross country teams stick to 5ks.

Last week, I was disturbed by a Newsworks report about a mentorship program called "Students Run Philly Style," in which radio hosts boast that 77 high school kids would be running in this year's Philly marathon. One of them, a 17-year old girl, would be running her third marathon. Why? She likes the hoodie.

This is just insane. Or more appropriately, child abuse.

On Sunday, two people (a 21 year old and a 40 year old) died in the Philadelphia Marathon, precisely because it is a physically demanding event. You don't encourage kids to do this as a "confidence booster." It's only a matter of time before one of them dies during the event, and it's very likely that many of them have injuries that will make it impossible for them to develop fully. How's that for boosting their confidence?

With all the recent discussion about child abuse at Penn State, I have to wonder what the hell these people are thinking. We scratch Joe Paterno's name off trophies while carting five year old kids to bash each other brains out boxing. City Councils are now considering anti-pedophile bills, while South Allentown parents urge their 12 year old sons to "hurt" their opponents in a meaningless football game.

So when everyone wants to condemn Joe Paterno, I have to wonder why they are so hesitant to condemn all the other forms of child abuse occurring right under their noses. These heroes of the day, who vocally condemn Paterno, are often the vampires of the night, engaging in the very child abuse they find so offensive in everyone else. It's not sexual, but it's still child abuse.


Anonymous said...

Heavy dude, heavy

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. See young runners all the time logging long long distances and can't help wondering
what it's doing to their hip and knee joints.

Zorn said...

Great post, BO

Anonymous said...

What about the child abuse of having kids you cant afford and are ill equipped with skills to raise. Sometimes a lifetime of poverty and kids subjected to the 'hood. We see deprived childhoods used as a defense in criminal trials all the time.

Carol said...

Bernie, my first reaction to losing the two runners is a heart problem known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or IHSS, commonly called an athlete's heart; unfortunately, so many of our athletes don't realize they have this condition. Parents lose their basketball and football players from this disease. I have written to senators, congressman, representatives and the President's wife to encourage all athletes having to have an echocardiogram before anticipating, it could save their life. It is a genetic condition, my son and I have it, there are about 4 of us in the Leigh family of 100 who have inherited the disease., Carol

Carol said...

Bernie, I forgot to mention that I never had a response from anyone that I have written to regarding IHSS, probably because insurance doesn't want to pay for the echo. Carol

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hi Carol, Sorry to read you have this condition. It is a killer. If it can be detected with an echocardiogram, this should be SOP in any intense youth sports programs like basketball.

ironpigpen said...

Wow, look at all the chaos one homosexual with a penchant for young boys can produce ...

Does this mean the youth football report is canceled?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nope. In fact, youth basketball will be starting soon. I love to watch kids play ball bc it is so unpredictable and they are having fun. But parents attempting to re-live their childhoods through their own children can often become abusive. I noted it a few times this Fall in my football reports. I am also disturbed by the increasing number of young people who are running long distances. Maybe I've just noticed bc I'm getting so damn ld.

Anonymous said...


Please correct me if I am wrong, but I read what you are saying as equating the rape of a 10 year old boy with allowing a 17 year old to participate in a marathon. There are two issues to address here.

First, you assertion that it is abuse to allow a teenager to complete a marathon. While you may believe there is anecdotal evidence to support your no marathon for youth runners, there are exactly ZERO scientific studies to back up your assertion. And is it really more grueling than other sports children participate in?

The sport of football is also a grueling and demanding sport, but you appear to find it ok for your grandson to participate in that event. How about gymnastics? Is it child abuse to allow an 11 year old girl to risk breaking her neck while doing the uneven bars down at the Parkettes Allentown facility? Fact is, people occasionally die or get severely injured participating in sport.

It even happens with very well trained athletes. In the 1990s there was a Penn State football player who ended up paralyzed and more recently a Rutgers football player suffered the same tragedy.

In the running world, Ryan Shay died in November, 2007 in Central Park while competing in the Olympic Marathon trials. Shay, like other athletes who have lost their life competing, had an issue with his heart that cost him his life. This could have happened to him on a training run or on the track doing mile repeats. Either way, it was a result of an underlying health issue.

The other side of the equation, which could also be considered abuse, is the parent who allow their children to sit in front of the tv all day and eat packaged garbage and become obese diabetics. That is also abuse. The difference between the parent who allows their child to participate in a marathon or a football game, is that the parent who allows the obese child to live a sedentary lifestyle, is the obese child is guaranteed to have health issues, many of them life threatening.

The other issue is Joe Paterno. When Paterno says he feels for the children who are affected by the "situation" it is clear he knew what was going on with Sandusky. This means he knowingly allowed it to continue. Paterno was the most powerful person on the Penn State campus, and had nothing to worry about, career-wise by doing the right thing. Instead, he made the choice to tacitly go about his business and ignore the abuse by his long-time assistant.

Paterno is getting everything he deserves for allowing Sandusky to do these horrible things to children and not using his personal position of power to stop the abuse when it happened.

Yes, you are correct that there are other types of abuse. Where you are wrong is in your defense of Paterno allowing a horrible situation to continue with his non-actions.

Thank you for your time.


Anonymous said...

Hey bo, that's what Sandusky said!

Anonymous said...

No one should run that distance, regardless of age, in a competition. It's dumb doing it in general but then endorsing it as some sort of accomplishment?

Monkey Momma said...

Personally, I think it's too much of a stretch to claim that teens running marathons (presumably with their parents' permission) is in any way similar to the sexual abuse of boys ages 8 - 14 years old. If you stretch the definition of child abuse so far that it includes activities that are a calculated risk, then you lose the meaning of abuse altogether.

What Paterno knew, when he knew it and what he did is still in question. It is far too soon for me to condemn the man. However, I must admit, it does not look good for him. It seems a lot like the cardinals and bishops looking the other way when priests abuse boys in the Catholic Church. In any event, I do hope that justice is served and that the boys who were abused somehow find peace in their lives.

Anonymous said...

This is a dumb post from an even dumber person. Bo its too bad you didnt break both ankles in that marathon,

if you did, and with a delay in medical treatment, we would have been lucky to see the consequences of gnagrene feet being cut off by a surgeon and dumped into a trash bin, leaving you in a wheelchair at Gracedale

W/any luck, you'd be beaten silly while there, causing you to sip thru a straw and shit in a bag..

keep defending the molester

my guess is you are one too

Anonymous said...

Kids shouldn't be pushed to run or compete. Just as young baseball pitchers are put on pitch counts and not permitted to throw elbow-wrecking curve balls, so should similar precautions be taken with youth runners. IT band, knee and ankle problems are just the beginning of what can go wrong when too much is attempted too soon on the too young. Prepubescent gymnasts being raised like veal is equally disturbing.

This pales in comparison, however, to to being anally raped by a twisted old man whose deeds were then kept quiet by a weird, cult-like institution more concerned with its football reputation than children's safety.

Anonymous said...

"I love to watch kids play ball", nuff said.

Anonymous said...


Just a follow up on the deaths at the Philly marathon on Sunday, the 21 year old Penn student was running the 1/2 marathon and the 40 year old man was running the full marathon. The 40 year old was an experienced Ironman triathlete who completed Ironman Lake Placid in July. His time of 10:11:04 in Lake Placid is an incredible time. This was a very fit man who obviously had some physical issue he was unaware of and not because of a lack of fitness or inexperience at long distance racing.


Sometimes sh$t just happens.


Anonymous said...

dirtbag shows up at kids sports with flip cam in hand, drooling and licking his lips

after all, he loves watching kiddie sports when not related to any of the players

he goes home and chokes the chicken while watching reply

sick fuck

Anonymous said...

while watching REPLAY

Bernie O'Hare said...

Publus, I do not "equate" the rape of a child with abusing him in other ways, such as by pressuring him to hrt other children or run long distances before he is ready. My point is that these are all forms of abuse. While we piously condemn the rape, as we should, we wink at the other transgressions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Publius, There is nothing wrong with playing youth sports, so long as the proper gear is being used. There are risks inherent in every activity. But when a parent asks his boys to "hurt somebody," that is a form of abuse.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Gracedale Goons and their "blog mentor" are displaying their civility, yet again.

Anonymous said...

The same scum who peck out despicable comments are the ones earning Gracedale's horrific state ratings by choking patients and feeding them dog food. I wouldn't let a stray dog be tortured by the filthy creeps stealing their salaries at Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

Good, because there are plenty of Northampton County citizens who still want to go to Gracedale and are glad it is there. Your not wanting to come keeps a bed open for some deserving person.

You can stay with O'Hare, Stoffa and Angle at the miserable old fuk home they are building.