By Dan Hruby, Executive Sports Editor, San Jose Mercury News, March 4, 1979
AMERICANS are soft and getting softer. The wildly intensifying craze of running is proof of it. In truth, it is contributing to it.
Once again, people are taking the easy way out. If this country is to survive, the masses must take a stand. Experts on human behavior know what happens when they give people a choice among running, walking or standing. Most prefer walking, with running second and standing a distant third.
That’s because standing is a hard, tough discipline. It takes guts. The irony of it is that it is both simple and complex. Running or jogging are mostly physical. You just go as long as the body holds up. But to stand is a powerful challenge to mind, body and soul.
The thought of a long period of standing gives most people the cold shivers. It is sheer torture. Teachers learned long ago the most severe punishment they can administer for misbehavior is to make the offending pupil stand in the corner. The dunce cap became an added refinement.
A few religions, recognizing the discipline and sacrifice needed in standing, have incorporated it into their tenets. In the Yoga philosophy, there is a stage called asana, in which aspirants try to hold a posture an extended period. Many believe the lotus position was developed for people who couldn’t take standing. Runners are incredible faddists and this infuriates true disciples of the art of standing. To run is so natural. Babies can’t wait to run. Ditto children. The running addicts have gotten out of hand. They have to have special clothing, food, organized events. They become cliquish. Most of their daily conversations center on, “Well, I ran two miles this morning.” Or, “I think I’ll run in that marathon Sunday.” To others, they are unbelievable bores.
Standers are an unknown society. They know they are a giant step beyond. They don’t tell everyone their secrets. Snobbish? Yes. But they comprehend that even if they publicized their discoveries, few people would be bold enough to follow them.
It isn’t advisable to try serious standing without a physical examination. But that isn’t enough. The green light from a psychiatrist and psychologist also is recommended. Historians say the reason the British became a world power was because of their practice of queuing. Standing made them strong. The top tourist attraction in London is Buckingham Palace because the guards have mastered the stand.
Prominent leaders of the past, such as Napoleon, George Washington and Winston Churchill, wanted to be painted or photographed standing. None of the greats would be pictured jogging. Lexicographers recognize the significance of stand. To be superlative is to be outstanding. To be strong and brave is to withstand. And intelligent, understand. With urging from the White House and a well-engineered promotional campaign, it may be possible to convince Americans that running is softening them. There is an energy crisis and it shouldn’t be wasted. Running areas are overcrowded – space is a problem. But standing can be done anywhere, anytime. Wake up, Americans. While you still have a leg to stand on.
Dan Hruby, who has been a loyal customer to GH Sports almost since the day it opened (and its predecessor, Hind Performance as well), is a retired sports editor and columnist of the San Jose Mercury News. During his 45-year career in San Jose, he covered eight Olympics–summer and winter. He wrote of the exploits of such athletes as Mark Spitz and Don Schollander in swimming, Tommie Smith and Bruce Jenner in track and field, Joe Montana and Jim Plunkett in football, Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson in baseball, Rick Barry in basketball, Mohammed Ali in boxing and Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in golf, to spotlight just a few among hundreds of sports stars. Plus covering a ton of Super Bowls, U.S. Golf Opens, World Series, Wimbledon for tennis, Kentucky Derbys and many national collegiate championships.