Heroes

There’s nothing funny to say today, so I hope you’ll indulge me because I noticed something only one outlet has focused on in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Will Rogers once said, “We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” So while runners all over the world join in solidarity for runs or other efforts to memorialize the victims of yesterday’s tragic events, let’s remember that most of those killed or wounded were spectators, cheering on their loved ones as they engaged in their favorite avocation.

Erin Gloria Ryan wrote a piece for Jezebel headlined, “The People Who Watch Marathons.” She makes an important observation:

Without those people, a marathon would just be an exercise in self-abuse from a large group of crazies. But there is meaning in marathoning: the people who watch.

Running can be a lonely sport — hours on the road solo at times so early people can still be seen stumbling out of bars and hailing cabs home, declined invitations to evening activities, neglected significant others, and truly disgusting feet. In fact, unless a runner trains with a group that doesn’t annoy the living daylights out of them, the months leading up to a long race can be profoundly antisocial. But on race day, all of that disappears when, as the marathon runner embarks along a path lined with people — all kinds of people, they’re bathed in the encouragement of thousands of people who cheer for them without knowing their names.

So before we get all caught up in the perseverance and determination of runners, let’s remember the people who make it possible are those with the sports drinks, and the mylar blankets, and the medals, and the funny signs, who clap as we go by. It’s doubly horrible to think they should have to suffer for all that good will.