Commentary

In the end, the choice was clear

It's simply no longer possible for politicians, officials to make tone-deaf decisions

Updated: November 3, 2012, 11:33 AM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

In the end, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg simply had no choice.

While he defended the initial decision to put on the New York City Marathon for the 42nd straight year, it just wasn't right.

Yes, even with the support of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who applauded Bloomberg for making the call Giuliani himself helped make to put on the race in 2001.

There's a big difference between the attacks of 9/11 and Sandy.

Two months after the terrorist attacks, there was interest in showing the world that we would not stop for the terrorists. That we would go on with life.

It's harder to make the argument to go on with life as people continue to be without power, as families are still begging for help -- for water, for gas, for manpower.

Yes, grieving was and still is very much a part of the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, but it's harder to prove you will fight back against a force of nature whose effects are still so fresh.

It was as recent as maybe five years ago that it was possible for a politician to make a tone-deaf decision and get away with it. Not anymore.

The speed of the Internet has given way to the noise on Twitter, and if a public figure who is making a bad decision doesn't hear about the reaction, someone close to him surely will.

It's harder for pictures of homes reduced to plywood in Staten Island, a mile or two from the marathon's start, not to be seen by the world. It's harder for an interview on a local network with residents screaming for help, reminiscent of Katrina, not to make it onto iPhones across the country.

Not only did people who lived in the city know this wasn't right, but people who weren't touched by Sandy knew you couldn't be distributing water to people running when people in areas you were running through needed water themselves. For their livelihood.

It's hard to understand how Bloomberg, a businessman himself, could have missed so badly. That only hours before it was canceled, he was so confidently talking about why the race needed to be run.

He'll look really bad for how he defended it, but he should feel fortunate that -- however the decision was ultimately made -- he won't be remembered for this.

Ultimately, the right call was made because it had to be made. And to the runners, some of whom who trained all year for this, let me tell you this: You didn't want to run this race, either.

This wasn't going to be anything like the New York City Marathon of the previous 42 years. A marathon that established itself as one of the best thanks to the crowd, different in each borough.

You would have been booed. You would have faced silent stretches that used to be filled with people five-deep.

Running a marathon isn't about running 26.2 miles. It's about the scenery that surrounds you. And there was no place for crumpled Gatorade cups, wasted water and winners medals in the wake of Sandy.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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