Monday, April 20, 2015

Pro vs AG

You read the title and you're probably thinking to yourself: "Oh great, James writing another stupid blog post about pro vs. ag" or something of that nature.

Well, you're right.

It's becoming increasingly clear that some things need to change with regard to pro triathlon. What galvanized this particular post was seeing some tweets by some professional women who raced New Orleans 70.3 this weekend.

Here is a good example:

Now, I've had nothing but respect for pro women as long as I raced as a pro.  I frequently found myself at the front of their race at the beginning of mine.  Luckily I usually managed to ride away from them but I completely empathize with their plight. When I came up on the front group (say, for example, after a swim where I was caught by the lead pro women, which happened in every pro race I did except for one) I attempted to not get involved and surge through and past them so as not to affect their race.  Sometimes the women seemed to pace off me (Amanda Stevens/Magali Tisseyre both did this at Miami 70.3) and surge past again. I can't really do anything about their choices as interestingly I rode the same watts to the turnaround and clearly they did not. Anyway.

Mocking the pro male in question in this instance, however, helps absolutely nobody. Saying "you don't belong" is like a smack in the face.  Maybe he had a bad swim? Maybe a botched transition. At the end of the day he is there because he qualified to be there.  He followed USAT's qualification standards, submitted his application, and became a professional triathlete.  I have no idea who the male athlete in question is but to verbally berate him in that way shows relatively little class. It does NOT move the sport forward in any way.

HE is not to blame for the general problem that is being referred to in that tweet. Maybe he rode in an unpredictable manner and interfered with the women's race and yes, that sucks. But he was there because, in the eyes of USA Triathlon, he deserved to be there.

So the ultimate question is, SHOULD "he" (or anybody like him) DESERVE to be there?  There are plenty of pros who would be subject to this issue.  I was one of them.  Every single male pro that lives in NC is probably similar, with maybe one or two exceptions and those two grew up swimming.

So, at the end of the day, should the qualifications be stricter? Yes, probably. The current dynamic in pro triathlon is kind of stupid anyway in the sense that there is little to no room for athlete development.  There are some big races and there are very few little races in terms of financial compensation which creates an issue for those pros that maybe have the chance of becoming better but will never get it because there's no validation out there.

At the end of the day, when it comes time for competition, everybody's tempers are on edge. When you're competing at the front of the race you have little time or desire for someone else's bullshit.  I get that. But being rude and condescending is, in no way whatsoever, the proper solution.

The lead AG waves could also make the same argument against the BOP pro women.  They are competing for World Championship spots and the women in question in that situation are competing for something else (but probably not financial compensation).  They are under different rules so it gets even more confusing in that context.

Something needs to change, but what is it?

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