Remember The Time Darren Rovell Called American Marathon-Winner Meb Keflezighi Un-American?

  • Matt Rudnitsky

Meb Keflezighi Boston Marathon Flag

Darren Rovell is a Human Cloud that is present at every parade, hurling rain at every happy person there.

But yesterday, he was conspicuously absent from Boston Marathon discussion on Twitter, presumably because he made a mean fat joke about a Bulls fan the day before, and was either suspended by ESPN or wisely taking a self-imposed break. (Honestly, as mean as it was, it was one of his least-offensive offenses.)

So when Meb Keflezighi became the first American man in 31 years to win the marathon, Rovell was not there to cheapen his feat. Yay.

But I’m not exaggerating — he rained on Meb’s parade back in 2009.

Marathon’s Headline Win Is Empty

It’s a stunning headline: American Wins Men’s NYC Marathon For First Time Since ’82.

Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it sounds.

Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he’s not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.

Nationality in running counts. It’s why many identify Kenya as the land of the long distance champions.

As for the United States? Not so much.

It has been well-documented that since the mid-80’s, Americans haven’t had much success in the marathon. Many cite lack of motivation as the root of our troubles, as in our best athletes devote their lives to sports where they can make big money instead of collecting the relatively small paychecks that professional running offers. That, of course, is not the case with African runners, who see in the same winner’s check a lifetime full of riches.

Given our disappointing results, embracing Keflezighi is understandable. But Keflezighi’s country of origin is Eritrea, a small country in Africa. He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country.

Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.

The positive sign was that some American-born runners did extremely well in yesterday’s men’s race.

If any of them stand on the top step of the podium in Central Park one day, that’s when I’ll break out my red, white and blue.

Meb Keflezighi, as I wrote yesterday, is as American as they come, and this is incredibly insulting and entirely unnecessary, like many things Rovell writes.

After getting pressured, Rovell did eventually write a response: “What I Got Wrong About Keflezighi.”

It’s an insensitive, yet understandable mistake… if it was a one-time thing. And if he didn’t qualify his apology with, “I never said he didn’t deserve to be called American.”

And then continue to be a douche for the next five years.