These days it’s easy to lose your mind when following the political news. Friday night, however, I nearly lost it while watching the weather.
For a long time, most Chicago television news stations have seen as their primary mission acting as boosters for the city, not reporters; lapdogs rather than watchdogs. Sometimes this bent is relatively harmless, as when a movie is filmed here, or we’re getting praised for our tourism industry.
Now the stations are all abuzz over today’s Chicago Marathon, which has drawn 45,000 runners from all over the country and the world. On Fox 32, meteorologist Bill Bellis was giving the forecast for the big event. Then at the end he addressed the marathoners: “Be sure to stretch and hydrate before the race,” he advised with a straight face.
I nearly fell out of my chair. Telling marathoners to stretch and drink water before the race is kind of like telling Sir Edmund Hillary at the base of Everest to remember his backpack. It’s ludicrous. I doubt there is a single marathoner among the 45,000 entrants who doesn’t know this. It is 26.2 miles, after all.
You don’t just fall out of bed one morning and decide to run a marathon.
“What are you going to do today, Honey?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I was thinking I might run the Chicago Marathon.”
That’s nice, Dear. Don’t forget to stretch and hydrate.”
Chicago news operations have assumed unto themselves the role of everyone’s nanny. They never tire of telling us to bring an umbrella if it’s going to rain, our boots if it’s going to snow, or enthusing that a cool night means that we’ll enjoy “nice sleeping weather.” In this, they are akin to all the do-gooders in government, our schools, and elsewhere who apparently believe we have all lost the ability to think for ourselves. And maybe we have.
No, in the grand scheme of things, Bill Bellis reminding marathoners to stretch and drink water maybe isn’t all that important. But maybe it is.