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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Running Afoul–of Political Correctness

by Terry Burlison


Political Correctness has crossed the line. The starting line, to be exact–it’s infested fourth grade girls’ track.

I discovered this when my nine-year-old daughter, Emily, announced she was going out for the track team. I ran track back in Junior High School and figured that experience could be of some value. My team consisted of about two dozen adolescent boys ranging in body hair from Sasquatch to Naked Mole Rat. I learned to accelerate like a cheetah, run like a gazelle, and leap like a kangaroo, mostly in a shower room filled with burley upperclassmen snapping towels at us Mole Rats. If you couldn’t run or jump, the coach or natural selection removed you from the team.

At Emily’s first practice I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. “Going out” for the team is now taken literally: to make the team, one must qualify by going out and finding the track. Consequently, ninety-eight kids were proud members of the Mustang track team. That’s out of a school of 300–and the team is limited to fourth through sixth grades.

After two grueling practices of trotting in approximately counter-clockwise ovals then going out for ice cream, the kids had their first meet. In my day, a meet was usually between two schools. We each ran our events then sat on a wooden bench and pretended to pull for our teammates while actually watching cheerleading practice.¬†Emily’s meet included a dozen schools–a thousand kids all wearing gray, blue, or red. Emily’s team wears gray with purple letters to distinguish them from the teams wearing gray with blue letters or gray with purplish-blue letters. I dropped her off, parked the car, and spent most of the meet trying to find her again.

I located a harried-looking woman with a clipboard barking out instructions to a swirling cloud of pre-teens. She pointed me to the start of the seventy-five yard dash, where Emily was waiting in a line longer than Space Mountain’s. After several dozen heats, she lined up for her very first race.

My old school track was composed of black cinders glittering with razor sharp edges that weeded out the fallers. Running on it conjured race-memories of our ancestors fleeing over the earth’s freshly cooled magma pursued by giant dinosaurs. Emily’s race was run on grass with pastel lines. Not even real grass: we’re talking the green plastic stuff that comes in Easter baskets.

The kids lined up and the Starter explained the complex rules to them (“Go when I say, ‘Go!'”). Our starters used miniature pistols; they fired blanks that made a crisp crack everyone in the stadium could hear. In today’s gun-phobic world, people fear the Starter might load it with tiny bullets and gun down kids for false starts. Consequently, today’s Starter uses a device that looks like a Star Trek prop. Rather than a politically incorrect bang, it emits a trilling, musical chirp. It’s designed to provide a relaxing, yet self-empowering signal for the runners to embark on their journey.

Emily and her competitors lined up. The Starter yelled, “On your marks, set–” at which point a third of the group raced off in the general direction of the finish line. The Starter, to avoid a lawsuit from parents of the “rules-impaired,” let them go. Emily thought she had missed the starting chirp and took off in pursuit. Realizing her mistake, she was returning to the starting line just as the Starter yelled “Go!” and triggered his device, prompting half the remaining kids to check their waists to see if their cell phones had rung. Eventually they realized what had happened and raced off after the others, who by now were eating sno-cones in the parking lot.

When I finally found Emily again, she was in good spirits, not the least bothered by the cheating little bastards that had beaten her. She was happy and the other kids were happy, so maybe all this touchy-feely new age stuff is okay. It’s not like people have to obey rules, improve their skills, or learn discipline to function in today’s society.

Okay, maybe they do–for now. But by the time Emily is an adult perhaps Political Correctness will have taken care of that, too.