>In the endless (and mindless) “birther movement” of nutjobs who aren’t yet convinced that President Obama was born in the United States, we have now gotten to the point where a Tennessee state senator introduced “a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a long-form birth certificate in order to qualify for the ballot.” From a local radio interview:
Host: What are the specific requirements in the bill?
Sen. Mae Beavers: That they have to have the long form birth certificate.
Host: What is the long form birth certificate?
Sen. Mae Beavers: Now, you’re asking me to get into a lot of things that I haven’t really looked into yet.
Wants a requirement for a “long form birth certificate”, but has no idea what it is. All the proof you need that it’s politics, not policy.
On 13 March 2011, 17-year-old Edward Cheserek, a Kenyan citizen, finished second at the New Balance Indoor National Championships running 8:42.66 to surpass Rudy Chapa of Hammond high’s 1974 sophomore class record of 8:55.80. (Chapa was barely 16 when he set the record) Cheserek is enrolled as a sophomore at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. Cheserek has been living in the United States for 8-months after being found in the Marakwet, Rift Valley, Kenya and sponsored to the United States. Cheserek will complete his high school career prior to attaining US citizenship.
In 1974 an American citizen ran 8:55.80 to establish the American High School Indoor Two-mile sophomore record. His name was Rudy Chapa and he hailed from Hammond, Indiana. A record which has stood the test of time much the same way Gerry Lindgren’s 8:40.00 has stood as a benchmark to the American Prep Distance Runner.
As a self-proclaimed guardian to the spirit of the sport of prep and national running I am petitioning a review of the record set today by 17-year-old sophomore Edward Cheserek at the New Balance Indoor National Championships.
Edward Cheserek is NOT an American citizen. He can not represent this country for more than two years. If an athlete, no matter how great can set an American HS Record and have it recognized while they aren’t even a citizen of this nation then what point are having records?
I’ll (momentarily) leave aside that last rhetorical question, and explain a few things.
The official national high school records in track and field, and in any other sport for that matter, are maintained by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Their standards for accepting records do not include the nationality of the athlete. The athletes must be representing a school which is a member of a state federation, and in a meet sanctioned by a state federation or the NFHS itself.
The NFHS will not accept Cheserek’s record from this weekend. Not in any way, shape or form. Is it because Cheserek is not a US citizen? Nope. It’s because NFHS does not recognize separate records for freshmen, sophomores or juniors. And if they did, they still wouldn’t recognize Cheserek’s record because they don’t recognize indoor track.
For that last reason, Lukas Verzbicas’ indoor 5000 meter record set at the same meet will also not stand as an NFHS record. Should he break it outdoors, it still won’t be recognized. Not because Verzbicas was, until recently, not an American citizen. It’s because he doesn’t compete for his high school team, and therefore none of his marks are even recognized by the IHSA as Illinois records.
In fact, the NFHS rules for record keeping are so restrictive that, in track and field at least, hardly anyone pays attention to them. For example, their official 1600 meter (not mile) record is not the 3:53.43 that Alan Webb ran in the 2001 Prefontaine Classic, but the 3:59.51 he ran at the Arcadia Prep Invitational that same year.
Track and Field News is the guardian of the unofficial yet universally-accepted national high school records. Their record committee keeps indoor records as well as outdoor ones, as well as separate records for freshmen, sophomores and juniors. They are the ones Taylor has to petition.
And he might as well petition monkeys to fly out of his butt, because they don’t care about nationality of the athlete. Never have and never will. The only thing that matters to them is where the school they attend is located: within the 50 states and DC, or not. They’re not going to track down citizenship or birth certificates, be they short form or long.
See, when I ran in high school, I occasionally had to run against immigrants and foreign-exchange students. Some of them I beat, some of them beat me. (I once ran against Kip Keino’s son, and I think you can guess which category he fell into.) Never once did it occur to me to pretend that they weren’t in the race because their citizenship was different than my own.
I appreciate what Taylor is saying, that Cheserek is significantly older than most sophomores, and has other advantages as well. It’s commonly assumed that being Kenyan is one of them, but it should be noted that record-breaker Verzbicas is a Lithuanian immigrant. This is not a coincidence. American culture is poisonous to distance running. I’ve got a million ways to illustrate this, but none are really necessary.
If you want to improve American distance running, as Taylor passionately does, it is only counterproductive to separate American kids from immigrants. Your best hope is to surround American kids with immigrants. It might put them at a disadvantage in the short term, but distance runners aren’t supposed to worry about the short term.