My Sport Is Your Sport's Punishment
"My sport is your sport's punishment" is a common slogan amongst Track & Field and Cross Country athletes alike. If you drop a pass at football practice what does your coach make you do? Run. If a player on your basketball team has a bad attitude to your coach what does the coach make that player do? Run. If a baseball team plays a game and loses because they clearly didn't give their best effort what does the coach make them do? Run.
Clearly running is used as a punishment or conditioning technique in most other sports out there. Having to run is seen as a terrible, cruel thing that one must be forced to do when they screw up in different sports. Then there are the too few of us out there that are crazy enough to enjoy that punishment. Friends ask us why we insist on going to practice everyday just to go run our bodies down to the point of complete muscle breakdown and exhaustion. But us "crazy" running people are the most passionate athletes I can say I have ever met. Why do we bring such pain and torment upon ourselves and yet love the sport that causes it to the ends of the earth and back? I have a few theories.
As the slogan goes, "My sport is your sport's punishment". It is certain that a passion for running can be built by the more ego driven side of us. When you can tell your friends that you went to practice that day and completed such drills as running sixteen 400 meter sprints, or running 16 miles at 5 minute and 30 second mile pace, or did 400 meters of lunges, and your friend looks at you in disbelief, let's be honest, that boosts your ego and adds a little pride to yourself.
Camaraderie. There is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst Track & Field and Cross Country teammates that can be hard to find anywhere else. The friendships and relationships that can develop by being part of either type of team can and do last a lifetime. Many of my best memories in life involve the sport of Track & Field, my teammates, or at least began with something that happened at a track meet or practice. Though mush of both sports are individual-based, the team aspect makes teammates of these sports even closer because any member of a Track & Field or Cross Country team finds themselves genuinely caring about how each and every other member of their team does in their own events. Completely different people whom you may never see with each other off of the track might be the closest of friends during the track season because it is a common interest and passion that draws them together.
Track & Field and Cross Country are the most basic forms of competitions. You don't have to catch a ball, wear protective padding or gear, swing an object to hit another object. No, in our sport you stand on a track with seven other individuals and you run as fast as you can to show you are the fastest one there. No gimics, nothing else is needed other than you, your competitive spirit, and your legs. You throw a weight, a javelin, a disc, to show your strength. You jump farther, higher, and run as far as you can as fast as you can manage. There are no other sports out there that boil you down to your pure athleticism. As I have heard it put, "Once you have started your race, tunnel vision kicks in and you unleash your primal nature and just will your body as fast as it can go".
Running is one of the oldest forms of competition. Before neat little balls, pucks, bats, rackets, athletic fields were all created, people were running. The Olympic games first began some time around 776 B.C. From that time to around 724 B.C. the only event in the games was a 200 yard dash, known as a stadium. In 708 B.C., the pentathlon was added to the games. This pentathlon consisted of runnning, leaping, wrestling, and throwing the discus and javelin. People have been competing in Track & Field for nearly 3 millennia. The sports of Track & Field and Cross Country are ingrained into the history of human beings.
Unfortunately, the only time these sports are majorly covered in mainstream media is during the Olympic games, and those only take place every four years. I believe that can change and that Track & Field and Cross Country can become far more popular. If people could take the time to experience the thrill, camaraderie, competitive spirit, and history of these two amazing sports, it can one day be among the top rated sporting events in the world.