In a book coming out Oct. 22 from Penguin Press, “The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature and the Future of Forecasting”, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan writes: “Our highest priority going forward is to fix our broken political system. Short of that, there is no viable long-term solution to our badly warped economy. In America we are being pulled apart politically in ways unrivaled since the aftermath of the 1929 crash.”
Mr. Greenspan could just as easily be writing about the sport of running. In my previous post, THE FESTIVALIZATION OF SPORT — Respite from the competition of life, I posited that today’s younger generation seems less competitive than previous generations, though, as always, there still exists a cadre of robust hyper-competitive types, for sure. One of my theories was that today’s youth are more stressed in their everyday lives than were the Baby Boomers in the 1950s & `60s, and therefore are less free to explore recreation performance for its own sake — not to mention how the expectations of yesteryear and those of today do not nearly match up with one another either.
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
In the aftermath of World War II many nations of the world were still digging out of the devastation while individuals were left to deal with the psychic remains of shattered lives. My mother was one who saw her world destroyed, but was fortunate to find refuge in America which sat free and clear in its economic supremacy. This circumstance allowed we Boomer children the freedom to blithely dedicate ourselves to idle time pursuits well into their adult-onset years. The irony is that while the youth of today remain at home much longer than Baby Boomers did, we Boomers had the luxury to remain more infantile longer.
For instance, when I moved from St. Louis to Boston in August of 1973, I shared a two-bedroom, one bath apartment in Allston, Mass. with three friends. We paid $160/month, $40 each. I had just finished up at Washington University in St. Louis, a well-regarded liberty arts institution. In looking through some old papers in the attic of my parent’s house in 2008, I found a receipt for my final semester at Wash. U. from the early 1970s, $1250.
Compare today’s tuition and rent costs with those of the early 1970s where a two-bedroom, one bath apartment on the same street I lived on in Boston is now $1525/month, while a semester at Wash. U. is $22,420. Those figures, alone, show where much of the anxiety lies for the young grads of today.
In this excerpt from the archives of my old Runners Digest Radio show in Boston, we go on-the-run with marathon legend Bill Rodgers, four-time Boston and New York City Marathon champion of the mid-to-late 1970s. During our run Bill talks about his transition from ex-college runner to resurrected marathon runner. Check out the circumstance that led Bill back to the sport, and allowed him the freedom to fully explore the talent that lie dormant in his immediate post-graduate years.
Like all generations before us, we now-aging Baby Boomers reminisce with the Windex of selective memory that wipes clear the smudged window to our youth. But no matter how selective that memory might be, there is little doubt that we were allowed a latitude of freedom that no longer exists, and which may explain why the kids of America in the 21st century seek less strident forms of release, while asking for a measure of understanding as they look through a pane of now cracked glass at the choices and world they inhabit.