Who cares about track? I found out that I did.
Most of my ideas about Track and Field were limited to what I watched during the Summer Olympics. I was mildly entertained by the millisecond wins and losses. That changed when my son switched from baseball to track, then my illusion of track intersected with reality. Rather than TV images of sleek muscles streaking past at record speeds, I could feel the pounding of track shoes as I stood near the finish line.
Track and Field is more than a single game; it’s many games. It’s also as individual as each competitor and can be as team-oriented as football or basketball. It’s as competitive and athletic as mainstream sports. And if one were to think it’s easy, I suggest attempting a baton hand-off in a relay, or throw a javelin or leap over a hurdle.
Track crept into my world slowly. I began to understand its intricacies. It was about personal achievement along with teamwork. Where some games are clearly about strategy and strength, track also has two defining goals: runners improving their time, and field athletes having the tape measure stretched further.
I recall my son heading to state competition for javelin. In his senior year he competed while injured. Athletes know that pain is something you deal with. He could have chosen to bow out. But track athletes, I’ve noticed, more often will just tape it up and go. He did and he won.
True, track will never replace mainline sports, but I've observed something admirable. I’ve watched athletes set a record and then work tirelessly to eclipse it. They raise the bar, clear it; and then raise it some more. If they can do this in track, I wondered if could I do this in my life?
Can I improve my "time" in achieving my goals? How far can I "throw" my ambition? Am I raising the bar in what I can accomplish? Or have I set the bar too low?
There will always be people who run faster, but I still can set my own personal record. There will be times of injury that may make me slow, but I can still throw. And I can always be a team player, because life, like sports, is not all about me. Yes, in many ways track is a lot like life.