I just became a fan of USAT Midwest on Facebook. I admit it. I'm a huge facebook junkie. I've been on the site since late 2004...when the address was still TheFacebook.com and it was only open to college students. Now granted I wasn't one of the first people on it, but still. I was on it when you could only have a page of your music tastes, favorite movies, interests, and groups. I could browse every group at UND in like an hour.
Today, pretty much any organization has a fan page on Facebook. So naturally, I am a fan of things like USA Curling (I'm a nerd, shut it), RoadID, Steve in a Speedo, and USAT. I was browsing their fanpage and came across an interesting article. It was about triathlon and how it is the new status symbol.
Article can be found here.
I've heard about the running craze of the 70's. How "jogging" became a household thing. How every person went to the store to buy a new pair of Nikes and went for Saturday morning runs with the family. Another craze was beginning to take form...the Ironman! The Hawaii Ironman started from a discussion between some Navy seamen (don't laugh) about which athletes were the best. They decided to settle it by combining 3 brutal races...the Waikiki roughwater swim (2.4 mile swim), the Around Oahu Bike Race (115 miles, normally a 2 day event), and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles...duh). They decided to shave off 3 miles of the bike to have it start at the finish of the Waikiki rough and end at Aloha tower, where the marathon traditionally started. Thus, the Ironman was born.
Fast forward to today. The Ironman gets coverage on NBC with Mike Rowe's voice detailing the suspense of an entire day's work in 90 minutes. Ironman is a brand name. Triathlon itself is a business with stores dedicating themselves to triathlon-specific equipment. It is now a summer olympic event.
In all this...is it possible that triathlon has been dumbed down too much? Has it become an event that everyone can do? Does someone who has completed one triathlon in their entire life deserve to be called a triathlete? More importantly, a person that completes ONE SPRINT triathlon deserve that title?
To me, things like marathons and triathlons are special. The people that do these events deserve to be held in a certain high regard. It's like saying you're a poker player. What defines a "poker player"? Do you play the game one time at a friends place and suddenly you are a poker player? Or is it years of grinding it out at the tables, winning and losing, learning a lot about the intricacies of the game and other players?
I consider myself a triathlete, even though I have completed one sprint triathlon. But I also plan on growing in the sport. Expanding on what I have learned. More importantly than calling myself a triathlete, I would much rather call myself an athlete.
And that's the rub. Have a good day. :-)