Sunday, April 27, 2014

On Being a Race Bandit

I read an article about the CEO of Four Square's wife racing in the 2014 Boston Marathon as a band-it (article here).   The story goes that during the 2013 race, the wife finished, the husband did not, and they were separated for awhile.  As a form of 'closure' they wanted to run the 2014 race together, but alas, the wife couldn't find a bib and wasn't willing to raise the $$ for charity to get a spot.  (They said that they couldn't find a charity spot that had an open bib).  The dynamic duo decided to use a fake bib so they could run together and finish together.  He had a bib this year because he never finished last year, but she did.   Everyone who didn't finish last year were given automatic entry to this years race and Mrs. Crowley had just finished so didn't get an automatic entry.

The rightful bib owner had raised $$ for charity and noticed someone else in the race pictures of the event.  She looked at the bib more closely and noticed a twitter handle of @chelsa in the picture.  Then she put two and two together and realized that this person who stole the bib was a wife of a major tech company CEO.

When asked on Twitter if she used a fake bib, Chelsa Crowley responded. "Shh" and then the storm called the media and public outrage began.  They are sorry that they got caught, not sorry that they did what they did.

As a (small) race director myself, I would be outraged if someone bandited a race that I worked hard to organize.  Race directors/committees work a lot of hours to make sure the participants have a great experience, well, participants that PAY and/or raise $$ and do things the honest way that is.  The participant fee goes towards food/drinks, t-shirts, road closure permits, safety and security, prize money, medals, etc.  There are fees for a reason and banditing a race is considered theft of services.  I am sure Mrs. Crowley drank water from the water stations and/or food from the finish line.  I am for sure she ran on roads that were blocked off via permits and appreciated the crowd control the paid police officers were there for.  No word, or picture so far, if she took a medal from the finish line.

 In the original news article, Mr. Crowley defended their actions because they wanted closure and said they didn't mean to offend anyone.  He wrote another apology on his blog.  I applaud him for standing up for his wife and taking half the blame.  However, all of the apologies came from him, not her. Where are her apologies?  She has kept all of her tweets and instagram photos about Boston up and is even censoring the comments (by blocking people and deleting comments) from her social media. People are calling her out, but she hasn't said a word, only hiding behind her husband.  He said that he send an email to the rightful bib # owner, but no word about whether or not she did.  

To be honest though, this story is really only a story because because of Mr. Crowley is FourSquare's CEO.  Is it fair that they are being slaughtered in the press/comments/blogs because of it?  No, but that is what happens when you are high profile, you are held to a higher standard.  It might be unfair, but it is what it is.  Apparently banditing a race happens every year at Boston Marathon, the race committee expects it.  However, this years race was different because of the security and what happened last year.  What if a terrorist used someone's bib to get on the course and create a bomb or another type of attack?  If they can do it, anyone can.  I understand the need for closure, just do it in a ethical, non-cheating way.

In an 'apology' statement, Mr. Crowley said that they donated $5,000 to charity this year, but they didn't specify which charity or when it was.  Dennis Crowley is estimated to be worth about $30 million dollars (Mrs. Crowley hopefully/probably signed a pre-nump, so we can assume she isn't worth that much.), so I would think that they could have donated/raised a lot more than that.  $5K is like chump change to them.  He could have used his connections to find a bib, but they didn't do that, they were looking to just be given one (read: entitlement) or they figured they would cheat their way into the race.  He is a very connected person (just look at both of their social media pages to see who they are personally friends with) and could get one if they really tried.

What will happen to them?  Probably nothing.  This 'scandal' will probably go away soon (probably by this weekend) and maybe when the race comes around next year, everyone will be watching Mr. and Mrs. Crowley's social media accounts to see if they bandited the race.  The Boston Marathon probably won't ban them from every racing again, as per their policy, because of who Mr. Crowley is and his 'stature'.  Even if the Boston Marathon decided to pursue theft of services charge, Mr. Crowley would probably just throw part of his $30M to make it go away 'out of the public eye'.

To sum it up, rich people get on my nerves-no, ENTITLED people get on my nerves.  There are a ton of rich people who do great things and do not feel like they were entitled to get away with stuff.  Also, this really doesn't have anything to do with me.  I didn't run the Boston Marathon and I probably won't ever (I can raise $$ for a local charity, doing a local race and I am absolutely not fast enough to qualify, LOL).  I just think it is silly that people do this and have a half assed apology to those they hurt.  They are sorry they got caught, not sorry that they ran it as a bandit and they are trying to make it all go away.  It irks me!

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