“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” -Red Adair
As we aim to professionalize our sport we must first take action to professionalize ourselves. We have spent too much time costing ourselves the future we are destined for by refusing to educate ourselves and demand changes to make athlete friendly improvements to our sport.
We are still in the process of defining what it means to be a “Professional Track & Field Athlete” but I assure you that there is more to it than training daily and winning medals. We must ditch the attitude that if we have done this nothing else is required of us. No more of the mindset that anything we choose to do outside of working out and winning races is a privilege we are bestowing on others.
As an example, the US Olympic team was asked to complete a survey regarding the competence of the Olympic staff on August 31st. After numerous reminders, on October 19th a plea was sent with hopes of getting the number of respondents from 39 up to 60 of the 124 member team. The final number collected was 51... The USOC also had a survey but they only made the request once and a meager 18 of the 124 responded.
Given the opportunity to appropriately voice their opinion few athletes choose to take it but the negative view that changes aren’t being made continues to be round table discussion.
We train on average 3 hours a day 6 days a week. I am the last to minimize the work we do that would lead to quantifying our profession as full time. Yet, I don't by any means think that we are stretched so thin we can’t do anything else. There are members of the Olympic team working 60+ hours a week and finding time to train. Surely those of us who have been gifted not to have to have secondary employment can make time to fill out a survey, be on a committee or read up on the current events relevant to our sport.
We are now making videos to further educate athletes about the things that are important to know to be the best at what we do. I am all for using technology to keep things interesting but when we are given no other choice because a group of people, the majority of whom are college educated, refuse to read I am disheartened.
I have been apart of the problem, sitting around a table griping and complaining about whats wrong but too bitter to get involved in figuring out the where to seek solutions. Recently enlightened about the momentum we have gained to be in a place where changes are now more feasible than ever I was prompted to jump into the fire, elected to the board for the TFAA.
I assure you we are behind the scenes diligently laying the ground work. When we ask for athlete support it will be with a small number of things that can have a HUGE impact. I hope we can stand together at the appropriate times. In the mean time PLEASE be educating yourselves about what’s going on.
In my career the finish line is becoming visible and I have accomplished some AMAZING things. Yet, I prefer to leave behind a legacy that is much bigger than how fast I ran or how many races I won. Let’s change our sport today for those who will run tomorrow.