My reply to the author of this story, The Slowest Generation is posted below.
Just read your article; while I appreciate the acknowledgement by contributors that the competitiveness of American youth has largely gone out the window, I feel that the article left us wanting in the realm of solutions. By simply criticizing, you will only make them more complacent. Some of the data is also skewed, when displayed in this manner. For instance, the median finishing time of marathoners has decreased over the past decade, while the number of finishers has jumped upwards. Those two often go hand-in-hand the same with almost every distance of road race. Not to mention, the US Track and Field’s showing in the last few Olympics and world champs has been full of young studs. They might not be winning yet, but they are making finals and top fives in events we haven’t been competitive in over the last 40 years, in some cases.
Suffice to say, this same article could have been written with a very positive spin, on just how active the nation could become with the right emphasis on these issues. It’s okay to not be competitive and just want to have fun in one of the “fitness party” type of races, but just because legions of fans now exist for them, does not mean that the US is losing it competitive edge among younger folks.