Sunday, September 4, 2011

Track and Field - The All Inclusive Sport

As the Daegu Athletics World Championships come to a close on a world record note by the Jamaican men's 400m relay team, I would like to say a few things on why track & field - athletics to the rest of the world - is the best and most inclusive sport in the world.

  • Everyone - and country - in the world can compete.
  • Outside of war, on what other platform can countries express dominance?
  • Unlike sports like basketball or football, you don't need a certain body type to compete.  You're short, you sprint.  You're tall, you high jump.  You're fat, you do hammer or shot put.  
  • Athletics is the only sport that women and men are treated as complete equals.  They do the same events and earn the same amount in prize money.  Marion Jones was arguably the most popular track athlete - male or female - in the late '90s and early 2000s.  Furthermore, she was prosecuted and went to jail as one of the highest profile athletes in the whole BALCO scandal.
  • In terms of equality, how many sports allow people with physical disabilities to compete with able-bodied athletes on a level playing field?  See Oscar Pistorius
  • Blind, mentally and physically handicapped, young, old, all levels of expertise, can compete.
  • It's free.  Shoot, you don't even need shoes.
  • Outside of hamstring injuries, there are no long term debilitating effects of competing.
  • When's the last time you got a concussion running the 100m?
  • You get to travel the world and meet a whole lot of interesting and cool people.
  • The only place that you get to see "normal" Africans beating and dominating White people.  All the while throwing that whole idea of dependency on the West on its head.
  • Eye candy for men and women.
  • Great way to get and stay in shape while having fun.
  • The vast majority of athletes competing do it because they love it.  There's no money in track unless you're Usain Bolt.  They are regular people that train harder than all professional athletes just to be able to represent their country on the world stage.
  • When you're disgraced, you're disgraced for life.  There are no Michael Vicks in athletics.  If so, Ben Johnson would be on a Canadian stamp.
  • Great way to get an education.
  • Teaches great discipline, structure, and hard work.
  • Unlike team sports, when you fail, you're the only one to blame.  Can only point the finger at yourself.  Teaches great character and mental toughness.
  • Everyone can run, jump, and throw.

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