A Timeless Resolution

author : Scott Tinley
comments : 2
by Scott Tinley
  
Ironman World Champion, 1982 & 1985
Ironman Hall of Famer; Triathlon Hall of Famer

           Things happen pretty fast in this sport. Some, like 10k splits and toenail regrowth, you will welcome the speed. And others, like Alcatraz registration slots and hearing Mike Reilly call you across the finish line, well; you wish time would slow down. If only for that moment. Still, we live in a world that moves at hyper-speed. Rationality rules and quick convenience is king. If a web page doesn’t load in 4.2 seconds we cancel the download. Patience is passé. We have been co-opted by quick-hit visual sound bites and the MTV Generation has been reared not so much on multi-tasking but on mega-tasking. USA Today with its depth of coverage as thick as your credit card, is the best-selling newspaper in the country. Critical thinking replaced by criticism, confluence running roughshod over consideration, and cash can never be king because people don’t remember what it looks like.

          And through it all sport lives on, institutionalized in quarters but seemingly unaffected at its truthful core. Sport: the great reliever of stress, we think, the builder of character, the last form of entertainment where the ending is not scripted, where community extends out from the huddle like spokes from a wheel.

          Even with the white noise rhetoric about sport playing the leading role in every pitch from the perfect weight loss vehicle to a forum for self-identity, all endorsed and infomercialized by expert commentators, sport has survived, its head bloodied but unbowed. We think.

          Sport, like grandmothers, pound dogs and old Ford trucks, is made to live on, thriving under the barrage of duplicity because it has roots like ancient oaks; sport bends in a storm but rarely breaks.

          And at the center of this stability are the core athletes, the genuine aficionados of human movement. But what would happen if the serious journeyman jock who quietly logs his or her hour a day without pageant or pretense, suddenly sold out, stopped training because they felt guilty spending the time, or lost interest, or gained weight. Imagine Joe-5k-a-day sleeping late and learning the names of the stars on Survivor. No more, “I do it because it’s what I am,” comments, true as it they may be. What would happen to sport if the everyman athlete went the way of a 60’s war protester; a victim of too many internal enemies and external messages? It could be the cry-baby-eight-figure-salaried pros, the cigarette company-sponsored adventure races, the 24/7 allsport cable stations. What if the hype simply got to us?

          Image the heart and soul of the American sportsman, one of the last cultural bastions of individuality, joining the frenetic fray, stair-stepping at the health club chain, video phoned, browsing for Cliff Notes, scheduling hot yoga leadership seminars? Would the running philosopher, George Sheehan turn over in his grave? Would the Ironman go virtual?

          It’s an apocalyptic view but steeped in possibility not because it might happen, but in pockets of least resistance, it already has.

          And so we steel ourselves against the hyperbole and hang on to the reasons that attracted us to sport in the first place.

*            *           *

          New Year’s Resolutions are for the weak; the kind of people who hire Life Coaches and espouse their philosophies on bumper stickers. But they serve a purpose. They remind us that when it comes right down to it, most of us are kind of weak. We’re post millennium humans living off pre-cooked meals and online relationships. Most of us haven’t eaten what we’ve killed, grown or stolen in hunger. Even at 6% body fat and half a dozen Ironman finishers’ medals, we’re a pretty soft lot. On the inside.

          There is no one thing on which to focus our blame and certainly some will look in the mirror and dismiss the rant in their sculpted intransigence. But perhaps as we skip out of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit and feel the heat of 2012’s Year of the Dragon, we remind ourselves that sport is only less-free from the vicissitudes of a neurotic market-driven world when we do it just because we want to, not because the poster said to just do it.

          Through sport we can control time, walking the trails or swimming in place going nowhere or anywhere because that’s exactly where we want to be. We can be our own masters of the pace, the terrain, and our engines that propel us across spaces that we chose. We are virtuous athletes when we log off, power down, and deny what hegemonic forces control and compress our thoughts, habits, and calves.

          The biggest hurdle is in the realization that if we aren’t careful, some other structural force will be writing our ideology and our training schedule. So, think about going home early. Run late. Throw your Timex Ironman away. There will be time in the coming year. But only if you make time to slow down so that you might rediscover the joy of speed. Your old bike is fine. Wipe it down, pump up the tires and go ride it. Can’t afford the $300 entry fee for the 5k Walk for Breath? Get your pals together. Meet at the corner. Someone says “go!” First one back buys the first round. Not happy that you can’t hide a quarter inside your abs? Get over it. People on the covers of Cosmo and Men’s Fitness might just be airbrushed anorexics. They won’t survive simple gall bladder surgery. Have your ice cream. Sleep in. Your dog and your running shoes and your conscience will be there when you get up. Kill your TV, your email, and your Facebook. Go for a walk after dinner. Dance. Rediscover your sport on your time. Don’t just make it through another year. Make it through another life.

Scott Tinley


Scott Tinley won the Ironman World Championship twice (1982, 1985) and the Ironman World Series three times. He was inducted into both the Triathlon and Ironman Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1999.

Near the end of his professional career he helped found and develop the sport of offroad triathlon and continues to co-own and manage the longest running offroad triathlon in the world, Scott Tinley’s Adventures in San Luis Obispo, California.

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date: January 2, 2012

Author


Scott Tinley

As the sport of triathlon gained in popularity Scott turned pro in 1983. Between those early years and his move back to the amateur ranks in 1999, Tinley competed in over 400 triathlons, winning close to 100 of them, making him one of the top three winning triathletes of all time.

He won the Ironman World Championship twice (1982, 1985) and the Ironman World Series three times. He was inducted into both the Triathlon and Ironman Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1999.

Near the end of his professional career he helped found and develop the sport of offroad triathlon and continues to co-own and manage the longest running offroad triathlon in the world, Scott Tinley’s Adventures in San Luis Obispo, California.

Scott Tinley's Website

Author

avatarScott Tinley

As the sport of triathlon gained in popularity Scott turned pro in 1983. Between those early years and his move back to the amateur ranks in 1999, Tinley competed in over 400 triathlons, winning close to 100 of them, making him one of the top three winning triathletes of all time.

He won the Ironman World Championship twice (1982, 1985) and the Ironman World Series three times. He was inducted into both the Triathlon and Ironman Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1999.

Near the end of his professional career he helped found and develop the sport of offroad triathlon and continues to co-own and manage the longest running offroad triathlon in the world, Scott Tinley’s Adventures in San Luis Obispo, California.

Scott Tinley's Website

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