Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Problem with Rules

I generally follow rules. Sure, I break the speed limit on occasion. Sure, I'm not a perfect angel. But most of the time, I support the reasons for rules. I don't break good rules. I remember one time I got my name on the board for talking out of turn in the 3rd grade. I felt sick to my stomach the rest of the day.

But sometimes, there are rules that no matter what explanations are offered for their existence, I just think they're ridiculous.

Case in point? USATF Rule 144.3.(b) This is the rule set in place that bans the use of headphones/audio players in certified races, aka most half and full marathons in the US.

The USATF and supporters offer a bunch of bull reasons that on the surface make sense, but when it comes down to it, they're making it all the more difficult to get new runners in the field and retain the ones who need music to power through long distances.

They say listening to audio devices is a safety hazard as the runner is unable to hear traffic, race instructions, etc.

Ok, so this kind of makes sense. However, I am far safer running on a closed course where there are NO cars than when I'm doing my training runs. It doesn't matter if I can't hear cars because there shouldn't be any. And I do have eyes... I can see the signs telling me where to go and that the people up ahead have water cups to hand me. If this is a reasoning for this rule, then why are deaf people allowed to run? I don't think it matters if you can hear stuff when you're running a race.. it's one of the safest places to run.

They say their insurance companies consider it a safety factor.

Why do they care? I have to sign a waiver that I'm responsible for my own safety and well-being at every single race. Most include warnings that I run at my own risk. I think by the time I've signed that, they've made it pretty clear that if something happens to me during the race, I'm on my own.

They say they can cause distractions and safety hazards for other runners... because what if you drop it and pick it up and someone trips over you? Or start messing with it and plow into someone and knock them down?

Ok, seriously... how is me messing with my ipod any more of a safety hazard to other runners than me coming to a dead stop at the water stop (I know better, but some people don't) or me messing with my sports watch or GPS watch or whatever other device I've got that's not an ipod, or looking off to the side and waving to the spectators cheering me on? I don't run with headphones in a race if I have a running buddy, but whether I wear them on race day or not I can safely say I have NEVER been bothered by someone else wearing them.

They say (and this is my personal favorite) that music can give runners a competitive edge over others.

Wow. I mean, I may be totally wrong, but the elite athletes I've seen appear to not need music to help them power through the course. You never see them with mp3 players anyways. So what's wrong with letting the rest of us more average runners listen to our tunes? We're running far longer than the elites and need it anyways! I just don't think that me being able to pump up the volume on a Justin Timberlake song is going to give me what it takes to go flying past lots of people.

I know I don't have like the BEST arguments here by any means, but my point is that I just don't see a runner listening to their mp3 player being as big of a threat as they want to make it out to be. Rules are often made to be broken, and I know many runners break this one despite all the race advertisements that headphones won't be allowed. However, I'm hearing more and more that they really are starting to disqualify people who wear them.

Come on people, don't we have better things to do? It's kind of like when the cops pull people over for just barely going over the speed limit when they should be off tackling rising drug problems.

If anyone out there who's part of the USATF or a race director or whatever stumbles across this blog someday, please know that your ridiculous rule is pissing runners off everywhere. If you don't believe me, do a google search on the matter and my point will be proven faster than you can lace up your sneakers. I don't understand why we need to certify every single course anyways. Sometimes we just want to run a marathon to run one, and not to try to qualify for Boston or the Olympics, so there's no need for every freaking marathon course in America to be USATF certified. And if they are going to keep going that way, then this rule needs to change. Keep up with technology USATF people, and remember that we have to sign off that we're running at our own risk anyways... so let us risk running 26.2 miles with headphones.

Besides, I've never heard many reports of mass injuries and casualties because of people being so into their music at a race. The only running deaths I've ever heard of were related to health problems or weather. So let's be realistic... quit making rules for the sake of making rules and trying to tell us how to run.


April said...

Amen Sister! I'm totally with you on this...

B2G said...

I'm with you and I don't even run. But I did volunteer at a marathon once handing out water and I have mad respect for runners. You guys should get to do mostly whatever the hell you want for running that far. (Why you do in the first place is beyond me, though. :P)

Are You Willing to Change? said...

I'm totally with you on this one too...I haven't run one yet, but I'm training for a half-marathon, and I read the rules, and they said we couldn't run with an Ipod. I was so upset!