A while back a non-athlete blogger's post, Triathlon is a Stupid Sport drew remarkable attention when someone shared a link to it on a slowtwitch.com forum. If you haven't read it, I recommend you give it a shot - and don't skip the comments - some of them are even funnier than the post. I'll wait here.
As a member of the triathlon community, I believe it is my duty to recognize than in more ways than not, the author is dead on. Sure, he uses a brashness in his delivery of the obvious truth in order to solicit an emotional reaction, much the same way a stand up comedian's delivery can make us laugh at the mundane details of life. But simply because he portrays himself as a wannabe Howard Stern doesn't make his observations any less accurate.
1. Triathletes are narcissistic. Um, yeah. By virtue of its nature, triathlon (along with most individual sports - and sports in general) is a haven for narcissists. That's okay. Take it from me. I'm a pilot. We have courses on how to be a good narcissist.
2. Ironman events are too frekin expensive. Some claim that the sky high price of these events is primarily caused by their huge logistical requirement, but they forget that the vast majority of the labor for these corporately run events comes in the form of volunteers. Thank God other organizations are coming online and trying to do battle wit the WTC powers. But the bottom line is that the WTC knows more than a couple things about marketing, and people will overpay as much to have an MDOT on their races as they do to have a name on their underwear or an alligator on their polo shirt.
3. Male triathlete's clothes are a little fruity. Yes, spandex is a fashion risks for any man. But even more important is the vessel being wrapped in stretchy space-aged material. If you look in the mirror and cannot distinguish yourself from the neck down from a female athlete or if you have to consider the tensile strength of a tri suit prior to squeezing into it - do our sport a favor and opt for a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
4. Triathlon gear is expensive. Yup. As a surfer who discovered snowboarding well into his twenties, I was amazed by how much start-up cost was required to slide down a mountain compared to the inexpensive nature of riding a wave. Between clothes, gear, boards, bindings and lift tickets - the alpine sport seemed to be reserved for only the richest of our society. However, despite its pricey requirements snowboarding continues to portray itself as a culture of hippies and minimalists, whose parsley income is spent on season passes and weed. Isn't there room in triathlon for some purists? Yes, there are yuppies doing their first sprint race on $5,000 wheels. But those guys are probably the same ones taking their land rover to the mountains to use their $7,000 skis once a year. And the rest of us love passing those guys on the run.
5. Triathletes are rich. Absolutely. I've done quite a few races. Give me my $150,000.
6. Ultrarunners are awesome. Anyone who can do the same thing for 23 hours has my respect - even without the physical requirement of running the whole time. I came from a hurdling background in college and I fly helicopters instead of fixed wing planes. I need more than one dimension to keep me engaged. And if you've ever seen an ultra-marathon finish line, you'd have to respect the folks that do it. I don't care how slow they are jogging.
7. Cyclists love beating triathletes in century rides. Yes, and a neurosurgeon would hopefully be glad he out performed me in an operating room. It'd be pretty embarrassing to get beat at the one sport you devote all of your hours to.
8. Triathlon started with a bunch of badasses in Hawaii who wanted to test each other and see just how badass they were. I thank the author for pointing this out, and encourage us not to forget our roots.
So yes, the pot-stirring obscure blogger was right in many ways, and I encourage you to give his post a solid read. (My favorite comment was: "I bet you're fat.") The only true point of contention I have is the idea that all triathletes are douchebags. However, I will concede that there is ample support to this argument. Anyone who has ever been passed by a jackass on a Cervelo, whose yuppied cries of "On your left!!!" carried such an unnecessary sense of self-importance and urgency that you shuddered to be considered in the same social sphere as him, knows that we have our fair share of douchebags.
I would simply encourage you to not be that guy. Don't be the jerk who thinks his gear makes him legit and has no time for beginners. Be the guys on the island decades ago who just wanted to test themselves and push each other. And maybe ditch the speedo.