This weekend I went to a collegiate track and field meet for the 1st time in several years. What stood out to me most was what seemed like the overwhelming and glaring need for most of the people there to be associated with some sort of group...in most cases a team, and in some of the unattached cases, some kind of affiliation with a shoe company. It brought back memories of my earlier years of competing on the circuit without sponsors and support and the need that I had to be associated with some sort of group or company.
I can remember trying to find out what the Nike/Adidas/Asics competition kits looked like and then I would go out and try to buy something as similar as I could to their kits. I also remember borrowing or trading for USATF National Team gear when I went to meets when I was in college. At that time, I thought it meant something...like you achieved something, if you had national team gear on...like "look at that guy, he has been on a team".
Its ironic how your view of what "successful is." I remember seeing guys who I watched on TV in the Olympics and World Championships, guys who had medals, money, sponsors ect... and I was always amazed at how little they cared to show off their accomplishments. I remember seeing a high school kid training at the Olympic Training Center last fall...the kid actually made the World Junior Team and actually did quite well. He came to the track about 3 times a week and every time he came, he wore his full national team gear, head to toe! Fully decked out... I can relate to him being proud of his accomplishments and wanting to "show" the athletes at the training center that he was legit and wanted to be accepted there.
I'm guessing he didn't realize that as you get older, its not the actual teams that you make that makes you value those National Team kits... Its all the teams that you sold your soul for that you didn't make. The years of living on couches, nursing injuries with no medical insurance and raking up debt...searching for the elusive secret or holy grail of your event. Putting all your eggs in one basket and watching them all crack one by one... but then having your 5 minutes of fame where you make that team, and you realize how special it is. I often think that the few lucky guys and girls who sign big sponsor deals and make World and Olympic Teams their 1st year out of school miss out on those times. Thats not a bad thing, it just makes me understand why they probably don't care that much for those Team USA kits, because it was just another team...
So you see kid...I see you with your USATF team jersey...the one that you probably bought on the USATF website, and its ok. Because I know given the opportunity to do so, you would probably sell your soul as I did to earn you own Team jersey.
I'm looking at a massive box of Beijing 2008 Olympic gear that got worn almost everyday for at least a year. That box hasn't been opened in at least 2 years now.
Until next time,