A Tale of Two Athletes

51086876CM022_MRTm_finish hideki

Two big-time sports event happened in the last week.  The first was the New York Marathon, and the second was the World Series.

The first, the Marathon, was won by an American, for the first time since 1982.  That American is Mebrahtom Keflezighi.  We’re going to call him Meb, because I can’t even spell his name, let alone pronounce it.  I even copy-pasted it here so I didn’t have to try.  So, Meb won the Marathon in a blistering 2:09:14.  Pretty awesome.  I have trouble completing a 5K without horking up a lung, so I am suitably impressed.  Way to go, Meb!

The Yankees won the World Series this week, too.  And in the course of that event, Hideki Matsui, of Japan, was crowned MVP, enjoying much cheering and praise.  And a home run.  All of Japan celebrated.  Most of the U.S. celebrated (except Philadelphia, which drank lots of beer.)  Way to go Hideki!

But wait.   There’s controversy afoot!

Seems that Meb isn’t “American enough”.  A huge controversy erupted in the running blogosphere shortly after Meb’s win, thanks to CNBC Sports Business Reporter  Darren Rovell.  His contention is that Meb is “technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1988,” but he’s not really an American for the Marathon, because he wasn’t born here.

Um.  What?

Meb came here from Eritrea, which is near Ethiopia, in the 80’s, when he was 12, and became a citizen of the U.S.A. in 1998, the same year he graduated from UCLA.  But Rovell said, in his reporting of the Marathon win, that Meb, “is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country. Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.”

An interesting position to hold, when compared with Hideki Matsui’s MVP award in the World Series.   Of Matsui (and his current career outlook, involving his future in baseball and endorsements), Rovell says, “No matter where Matsui goes, it’s a win-win for Major League Baseball in that an international player has been named the World Series MVP in the biggest market.”  An interesting remark to make about a guy who was hired to work so that a team could win the World Series…..

So let me get this straight.  We should not count Meb’s win in the Marathon as an amazing feat because he’s not “American enough”, having lived here since he was 12, but we should celebrate Matsui winning the MVP in “America’s Game” because he’s the first international player to do so.


(All kidding aside, Rovell has since apologized for his remarks about Meb.  Apparently, Meb is ok in Rovell’s book now)

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11 Responses to A Tale of Two Athletes

  1. Joy says:

    This just gives me a headache. What’s wrong with people? Who even thinks up stuff like this? American enough?? I don’t get it. He who plays best wins regardless of where they were born.

  2. SKL says:

    People’s ignorance amazes me. Now how much $$ did this guy get paid for the broadcast where he made this ignorant remark? And just what did Rovell do to deserve the privileges of American citizenship??

  3. Laura says:

    I am suitably shamed. I included a typo, and couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

    Meb came to America with his family in the 1980’s, when he was 12. He graduated UCLA in 1998, the same year that he was Naturalized.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  4. Just a Mom says:

    In my opinion Meb should be considered MORE of an American because he came here from another country. He WANTED to be an American and he EDUCATED himself on this great country and he took the test to become an American. He earned his right to be an American more than myself! All I did was win the lottery and was lucky enough to be born an American.

  5. Gary says:

    Wow, I can’t believe that guy would think something like that and THEN say it on air!

    What a dumbass!

  6. nikki says:

    Classic case of ignorance! People amaze me every day and not in good ways! Not “American ENOUGH”….give me a break! Gives me a headache too! They are living the American dream and for anyone to try to deminish that in any way isn’t American like!

  7. Laura says:

    What completely frosts my cookies is that this same guy that says that Meb isn’t “American enough” celebrates the very thing that he runs Meb down for, in Hideki Matsui.

    Hideki IS the “hired gun” that he accused Meb of being, and Hideki won the MVP. Why isn’t this sportscaster moron whining that the hired gun won the MVP award in an American Game???

    The double standard is just shocking.

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