>Earlier this week, professional triathlete Joanna Zieger wrote a post on her blog called “What should age groupers expect from pros?” In her post, she talks about the need for pros to essentially be good role models in our sport…that by doing so, interest in our sport will grow, sponsors will be happy, and people will be “entertained”. Moreover, she wrote, professionals have a duty to perform well because, frankly, their livelihood depends upon their performance.
Joanna further writes about how open and engaging pro triathletes are, and should be, with us “normal” age-groupers.
I really enjoyed reading Joanna’s perspective. The even cooler thing is that her view on this is not unlike many other professionals in our sport.
Let’s face it, how likely are you to be able to strike up a conversation with Peyton Manning before a Colts game? The chances of doing so are slim to none. Heck, you’d probably get accosted (and maybe arrested) if you even tried to talk to him on a Sunday. What are your chances of having a Twitter conversation with Tiger Woods …perhaps bad example, unless you’re a young, voluptuous lady (snicker)…or with LeBron James? Many, many professionals in mainstream sports are simply untouchable. You can’t get close to them – and probably for good reason. I suspect that the vast majority of pros in other sports are good people – friendly, willing to engage, etc. I also believe that the more “famous” you are, the more you are at risk from dealing with the freaks in our society.
So back to triathlon – and specifically professional triathletes. I’ve been totally stoked by how open and friendly most of the professionals I’ve interacted with are. Most are genuinely friendly and want to share some of themselves with you. I haven’t met one jerk yet. People have asked me how I’ve been able to get some of the pros to take part in my interview series – it’s simple. I just asked. To date, I have had only one person respond that they didn’t want to participate. That tells me a ton!
The flip side of the coin, in my opinion, is that as spectators and fans, we owe it to professionals to be respectful of them and their time. Asking for an autograph five minutes before a race starts is not a good idea. Being overly demanding by stalking them on Facebook or Twitter (and getting pissed if you send a note but don’t get an immediate response) is bad form as well. Let’s face it, pro triathletes are people just like you and I. They are busy – triathlon is their job, after all.
No matter what, we have a unique dynamic in our sport. I appreciate that we get a chance to interact with some of the biggest names in our sport. Frankly, to me that is one of the cooler aspects about going to a race. Here’s to hoping that the dynamic never changes…