Ken Stone Says Geezer Jocks Will Answer 9-1-1 On Covid
January 26, 20225 min read
“We” invented sex, the journalist Ken Stone says of Baby Boomers, but “we” have hit a snag as disruptors. This Covid thing is slowing down our progress to, once and for all, shuck this knocker of being “doddering.” Our quest to push our expiration dates into the future with some sweat faces a threat.
What if the pandemic is endemic, which is certainly looking more and more likely? What if there is no Finish Line to Covid?
“Covid is a real impediment to the expansion of the master sports network and movement,” he said. “Too many events are being shut down. Even though you have states like Florida and Texas that say let ‘er rip, we still have to overcome this Covid era to fulfill the potential of Masters competition.” The 67-year old Stone, who has covered Masters track since 1996 and has been a keen voice for the Boomer fitness crusade, said Geezer Jocks born between 1946 and 1964 have created a new lodestar the last few years, that we are not on our last legs, but finding traction through competition and exercise. He and I agree this fitness bonanza is going to be a significant part of the legacy of Boomers. “Dad, when did Grandma start rocking the barbells?” “Turn of the century and just after, son.” But…this virus! Can we take it out back, flog it, and make it behave like the flu? Can we develop a patch, or an oral drug, or a nasal spray that is acceptable to all? How do we help vaccinate the world so international competition thrives, not to mention save lives? Stone has seen the fierce competitors among us fly to Texas, where Covid restrictions were easier to navigate, just so they could compete. Competition courses through some of us. The world-record holder Kathy Bergen told me she and her husband went to Texas to run and jump when Covid shut down California events. How long can we keep that up? Many state and local sporting events have been cancelled the last two years. The 2022 indoor season is in peril. The National Senior Games have not been held since the dazzling event of 2019 when 13,712 stormed the gates in Albuquerque. There has been a vertical rise in participation in track & field, pickleball, softball, swimming, cycling, and other sports. Already, 8,000 have signed up for the 2022 National Senior Games in Ft. Lauderdale in May. Stone says local events are the “gateway drug” to Masters Track, and the more elite levels of competition and professionalized competitions. If the local events are hindered too much it is going to hurt the overall movement, he said. “I ran a poll in February, 2020 asking people when we would get back to normal, and I predicted not before 2024,” Stone said. “Even if the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Oceania have acceptable vaccine rates, there are so many countries so far behind. How can you have a mixing from around the world in competition when maybe a third of countries unprepared for competition? “Even an elite competition, like the Olympics, were delayed a year. I don’t see the Masters movement getting ahead of the elite competition like the Olympics.” The National Senior Games Association has consulted The Cleveland Clinic, among others, for Covid advice and you don’t get any higher on the chain of medical brainiacs than the Cleveland Clinic. Nearly all of the May events are in Broward County, Fla., and local officials will determine if they want 10,000-12,000 of us stuffing their hotels and restaurants. Can the crusade can go on without all of the events, local, state and national? Ken said we might have to skip the indoor season and go right to tracks outside, or pools outside, and definitely cycling tracks outside. That’s fine. We are a resilient bunch and we have changed the parameters of being, you know, old. Gawkers—the ones staring at us from their cars as we run, bike, walk—are dwindling. They see us now. “Even if they haven’t been exposed to them in person, or by watching an event, most people have seen media coverage of Geezers doing exceptional things,” Stone said. “Social media has absolutely, exponentially, rocketed the presence of old-age athletes into public consciousness. “So given the ubiquity of social media and watching their own parents adopt hobbies, the other generations have seen something unconventional to previous generations.” “We” can do anything, Stone said. When he hears the derision, “Ok, Boomer”, Stone knows it’s jealousy. After all, “we” invented sex… …wait a sec. We invented sex? Ken, are you sure? “Yep.” So the stork was a real thing for all those thousands of years before 1946? Well, bless my succotash. Ken Stone would throw a dart like this—“we invented sex”—into the conversation because he has a real ardor for Masters Track and keeping things lively around the sport. Before social media super-sized the stories of Geezers running, jumping, riding, biking, etc., Stone was the most prominent disciple in the media for Geezer Jocks. He started his blog the same year the Olympics came here to Atlanta and he provided early fuel in the media nationally for Masters track. Ken is the guy who won’t stay On Hold very long. He’s the guy who hunts down “the store manager” to fix the problem. Stone just does. The Masters track movement was 30 years old when Stone hopped in to chronicle graybeards and bluehairs in track shoes and give it more juice. He was an editor at a major daily newspaper and an award-winning reporter and photographer. He knew a thing or two about reporting and getting the story out there. The legitimate valorizing of older athletes leaped forward with Stone sitting at the computer. Ken was/is a crusader for us and sometimes his exuberance on our behalf can create some ill will, like with his headline in November, 2021 that Louisiana’s 105-year old Julia Hawkins was going to be “robbed” in her quest for a world record. Hurricane Hawkins was establishing a benchmark in the 105-109 division, thus it was a world-record for women, but Ken took issue with the way the event in Louisiana was conducted. He thought some things sloppy, like a failure to test the timing system or no posted wind speed reading. Ken insists Masters track look professional from top to bottom and leave no room for somebody to say, “Well, it’s ok they didn’t follow the rules, they’re old, you know, and who cares.” But nobody was robbing Hawkins and Ken backed away from his charge…some. I appreciated his enthusiasm to make Masters Track 100 percent professional. He’s a Journalist who will look under rocks and he takes the same tact in Masters Track. All the competitors out there should thank him for being one of those people making sure the sport toes a line. It adds a legitimacy. Stone is semi-retired from his blog and that’s ok because social media and other outlets, like Geezer Jock, have picked up the pace of coverage. But Stone is still banging a loud drum for Masters athletes. He’s one of them, after all, a competitor at one time or another in the 50, 100, high jump, and hurdles. Ken posted the original article in Wikipedia on masters athletics. He knows the sport. So if anybody can deal with the scourge of Covid, Stone insists, it is the Boomers. “We will continue to rule and have an out-sized influence on culture and politics and technology and sports,“ he says. "We are working longer than previous generations. We’re exercising more than previous generations of older adults. "So when I hear the ‘Ok Boomer’ wisecrack, I just chuckle back, ‘You whippersnapper’ and remind them we invented sex and we rule the world.”
The lanky Stone was the top high school hurdler in Omaha and a walk-on hurdler at Kansas. He knows the game of track & field. (photo Chris Stone)