It’s a question that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while. When you survey people, most will tell you that participation medals for kids in sports is a bad idea. That we are raising generations of kids that think they deserve medals for showing up.
Yet we expect medals “simply” for completing a race. The bigger and blingier the better, right?
I’m linking up with Tuesdays on the Run today; the subject was running bras, but as you can see, I decided to go in a different direction.
A quick look at the statistics
We hear that 1% of people finish a marathon. But we don’t hear how many finish half marathons. Since that’s one of my favorite distances, I tried to dig a little deeper — and I found this report from 2014.
Here are just a few of the stats:
- A little over 2,000,000 people finished HMs
- 61% of finishers were female
- The average age of female finishers was 36 (woohoo! I’m finally above average!)
- The average age of male finishers was 39
- The median finishing time for females was 2:21
- The median finishing time for males was 2:02
You can read the rest of the info for yourself. It’s interesting to note that HMs are supposedly the most popular distance currently, so one assumes that more people finish halfs than full marathons. I understand why!
So what’s wrong with bling?
I remember showing my family one of my medals a while back. My sister had no idea that everyone that finishes gets a medal. When I told her, you could just see her face fall a little, and she commented that it’s like the kids getting participation medals.
She’s right, of course.
But we love our bling, myself included, and sometimes we even choose races based on the bling.
Racing is hard, y’all. We all know that. Of course we want to be rewarded for our efforts. Should we all get medals? What if we all got nicer running shirts? Or something a little cheaper but useful, like socks? Hats? Things we actually use and would help remind us when we put them on that we can do so much more than we think we can.
And then there’s the whole racing is elitist argument. There is certainly a grain of truth in that argument — ask any runner, they’ll be happy to tell you how expensive it is to race. What if you’re poor and want to race? Cut down on the swag and bling, and maybe you’ll cut down on the racing fees, too.
Am I giving up my bling?
Of course not. I don’t even have any answers. Thoughts like these get stuck in my head at times and spitting them out onto paper or the Internet is one of the best ways to get the mental juices flowing.
I read not that long ago about someone wouldn’t race a 5k if it didn’t have a medal. Seriously? I’ve only raced one 5k that had a medal anyway! And only one 10k that had a medal.
Would I race if there was no swag, no tshirt, no medal? Good question. Shorter races, yes. Most don’t have good swag, and often the tshirt isn’t good to run in anyway. Would I run a half without some bling waiting for me at the end? Would you?
Have you ever thought about why we all get medals?