The media and the sport & fitness industries have turned sport into life and death dramas, packaging participation in ‘epic’ events as evidence of vitality, courage, health, resilience, as the fountain of youth, as a cure-all for deep rooted unfulfillment, for dissatisfaction with life, for emptiness, loneliness, isolation, for depression.
The media and the sport & fitness industries have turned sport finish lines into Dorothy’s Emerald City… the answer to all, all you need is for the wizard to call out and state “You are an Ironman” and everything will be amazing, awesome, life like you have never lived is just on the other side of that finish line… all you have to do is get across it, no matter how, just get across it.
As a result, participation in everything deemed ‘epic’ (i.e. marathons, grandfondos, iron distance triathlons) has skyrocketed but no one stops to look around… are we actually healthier, are we actually happier, are we all of a sudden super successful in life, carried around on chairs like kings and queens?
We have an abundance of participant and finisher medals, we have tshirts and towels and headbands galore, we have finish line selfees, we have pages and pages of posts on Facebook, Instagram, we have Tweeted our thumbs raw… but do we have anything meaningful to show for all our ‘epicness’?
Epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and mental health are overwhelming us. Depression and anxiety are destined to be the top diagnoses in 2020. A generation has been raised by ‘technology’ yet is incapable of conversing, interacting, engaging in the real world, only in virtual worlds. Fitness facilities, health clubs, and gyms selling HiiT addictions dot every street corner while medical walk-in facilities offering band-aid antidotes to our addictions dot the opposing one.
What do we have to show for all this ‘epicness’? Nothing.
So “how do they do it?”
They cross those finish lines, they lift those weights, they swim/bike/run those distances paying by credit, paying with their health, accepting consequences of deterioration of their emotional, mental, and physical well-being as a debt load. You don’t see it because hospital beds, surgeries, post surgical rehab, hour after hour of suffering and pain in silence, or in the other cases when a casket is needed, funeral homes, cemeteries and cremation fail to make the top 10 list of sport event side effects.
They train and race in an attempt to satiate the insatiable human ego for victory, for popularity, for glory hoping that if they only push themselves a bit further and a bit further still… then they will drink and no longer thirst.