In high school, I ran for the track and field team. I ran pretty much every event: the 100-yard, 200-yard, 400-yard, and 1 mile events regularly and somewhat less regularly ran the 300-yard hurdles and the 2-mile. I could sprint and run long distance; a weird combination that once saw me run in the 1-mile and, immediately afterwards, run as the anchor in the 4×100-yard relay. My team couldn’t have been very good if after already running a mile, I was the best option for the relay. Not that I was the best sprinter to run the anchor. The best sprinters couldn’t be bothered running in relays because (at least where I grew up) an athlete could only run in 2 events per meet.
This brings me to the most recent Olympic games where, since I was sitting at home a lot with a broken arm, I was able to see a lot of the coverage. One type of event I rarely have seen televised is the running. I’m not sure why I’d never really caught it before, I guess it’s not as hyped as other events are, unless Usain Bolt is involved. Bolt’s main claim to fame (athletically speaking at least) is the 100-meter. Meter, as in the metric system’s not-so-equal equivalent to the imperial system’s yard. This wasn’t much of a surprise to me, I’ve always known that for some reason the U. S. has stuck with the imperial system while the rest of the world has switched to the metric system.
Then I started to do a little research on the topic and this quote shocked me a bit:
Taillon said he has competed in some older events in the Northeast that still use miles.
I grew up in the Northeast! We were actually behind the times in this regard? I found out that many of these events are now on the metric system, at least on the state level. I’m not sure about my high school, I guess the actual track is probably still measured in miles. More surprising to me was that quote came from Texas, a state with questionable educational morals. Then again, New England is known for its archaic laws. Not quite a wash, but I’m just saying that everyone makes mistakes.
Also, damn you Ronald Reagan! The whole reason for this post was a rant about how we don’t use the metric system in the U.S. and now I know at least part of the reason. As the above article notes, it was Reagan who put a halt the committee in charge of America’s transition to the metric system. It does however seem like the country is moving towards the metric system and I believe we’d all be better off for it. Now they just have to replace every road sign in the country and we’ll be all set…