Jeremy Wariner: Atypical American
I love track. I’m passionate about it. There’s nothing I’d rather do than coach track and field. Watching elite level track and field doesn’t rank far behind. So why I’ve wondered, am I and others like me so rare in this country the very same country with the most dominant track and field team in the world? While there are certainly a multitude of explanations I think one of the reasons is because your average every day Joe can’t relate to our sport. What I mean is this, your average American is so far removed from fitness much less performance that they simply cannot understand or appreciate the unique demands of our sport. The same can likewise be said for swimming or cycling (which aside from Lance Armstrong’s story most Americans know nothing about). For example, if you take your average overweight American and ask him to play some backyard touch football with some friends he can go out and do it even if he had never played at the high school or collegiate level. He can do so even though he lists waking up as his most strenuous daily activity.
I can’t relate!
The same can be said to a lesser extent for basketball and baseball. While these ‘weekend warriors’ aren’t competing anywhere near the level of performance that the top athletes in those sports it is still quite easy for them to participate in the game and have a lot of fun doing so without any type of advanced preparation. The same cannot be said for track and field. In our sport, if that same overweight American attempted to compete in something as easy as a 200m without preparation he would be lucky to finish light-headed and queasy. In the worst-case scenario he might pull a muscle, have a heart attack, or go into an exertion-induced coma. God forbid he should do anything more than the 200m. The bottom line is this: you just simply can’t participate and enjoy our sport without being fit and prepared. This means that the person needs to train regularly, eat right, and take care of their overall health. These are three things that most Americans would rather not be concerned with.