Sunday, August 26, 2007

World-Class Kenyans, World-Class Competition

For the last 30 years, the Crim Festival of Races has taken place in Flint, Michigan in late August. At some point about 20 years ago, the event started attracting the world-class, elite runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, who now compete annually for the $5,000 cash prize for first place in the 10-mile race. The racing event took place yesterday in Flint, and a Kenyan runner named Festus Langat (pictured above) became the 14th Kenyan in the last 17 years to win the Crim in 47:11, and Kenyans took the top 3 places, and 6 out of the top 8 places, with two Ethiopian runners finishing #4 and #5. Read more here in the Flint Journal.

After thinking about the dominance of the Kenyans, I submitted the following letter to the editor of the Flint Journal:

Foreign, world-class runners “imported” from Kenya once again dominated this year’s Crim, as Festus Langat became the 14th Kenyan in the last 17 years to win the 10-mile race, and he and his fellow Kenyans took 6 of the top 8 places. The world-class Kenyans unquestionably elevate the level of competition in the Crim, and help make it a world-class event for Flint.

Imagine your reaction if American runners started complaining about “unfair foreign competition” from the world-class Kenyans, and proposed new Crim rules banning Kenyans, limiting their numbers, or imposing 5-minute penalties on Kenyans “to level the playing field” for Americans. That reaction should be the same as when you hear American businesses complaining about “unfair foreign competition” from China or India, and they appeal to Congress for protectionist legislation to ban, limit or penalize foreign goods with quotas or tariffs, to “level the playing field.”

Just like restrictions on Kenyans in the Crim would significantly reduce competition and lower the quality of the event, there is overwhelming empirical evidence that restrictions on foreign imports reduce competition and lower our overall standard of living.


At 8/27/2007 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Imagine your reaction if American runners started complaining about “unfair foreign competition”"

Their were many complaints about foreigners in the Crim when they first started dominating all the events. A prize structure was established that only Michigan residents qualify for winning. Since a Michigan runner, in theory, can win the Crim and a Kenyan cannot win Michigan runner money, Kenyans are being discriminated against. It’s probably not fair to the Kenyans and other non-Michigan residents, but substantial sponsorship money was on the line, so a Michigan runner bracket was formed to solve the problem.

As a former runner and Riverbend Strider member, I agree that having world-class competition is good for the Crim and Flint.

At 8/27/2007 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for taking advantage of an excellent opportunity to point out the absurdity of protectionist laws.


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