Middle America

For all the talk about how great New York is (yes, it’s great) and how the left coast is so amazing (ok, it is), very little is said of the middle of the country. People that are enamored with the celebrity of their coastal regions refer to the middle of America as ‘fly over country’. The meaning of this slur is just about as offensive as “New York Values” which some people took great offense to. Fly over country implies that the region is just not worth your time or not worth your consideration for anything. But I guess unless there is something really celebrity worthy, the press just doesn’t cover middle America. When you think about it, what world class events are held in New York City or LA anyway? Actually, none.

Take Louisville, Kentucky as an example. The first weekend in May hosts the Kentucky Derby. Known as the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Derby is most definitely world class. There isn’t another event like it. Although the Preakness and Belmont Stakes come in a close second and third (pun intended), they don’t have the same cachet as the Derby as they aren’t the first event of the season nor are their fields as big. No, the Derby attracts people from all over the world and there are probably more billionaires in the gallery than in any other event. The entry of several wealthy people from the Middle East who have built huge horse racing empires ensures that fact. And where is Louisville? Right in midst of the Midwest. The breadbasket of the nation. Where waterways ply cargo ships of all kinds. Where Abe Lincoln was raised. Yes, Louisville. Oh, and by the way, that’s where Kentucky Fried Chicken or Yum Brands is headquartered.

Other than the Grand Prix de Monaco, there is probably no other car racing event to compare to the Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis, is also the birthplace of Willis Van Devanter, a lawyer and Supreme Court Justice, Larry Bird, Jane Pauley, Newton Tarkington (a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist) and a host of other names that were at the top of their game. But it is the Indy 500 that brings racing fans from far and wide for one day a year to the fastest and most exhilarating afternoon in sports. Just the mention of ‘gentlemen, start your engines’ is enough to get one’s heart racing.

So the next time you are faced with responded to a slur about the middle of the country, you can just respond with a list of the world class events that take place 35,000 feet below. That should keep them quiet for a while.