Why should athletes at every level of the sport be interested in something truly new in athletics? Really? Do we really need to lay it out?
This should be the easiest one. I’ve talked to dozens of athletes, and the two things nearly all of them have told me are the most needlessly difficult parts of being a post-collegiate athlete are finding an adequate place to train and how much it sucks always training alone.
Well, those two things are the essence of the AirBnB of athletics?: find a place, either near your home or when you’re travelling; and find people, hopefully as a first step to turning them into your team.
What comes after that, after everyone has a good place and a good team? Well, that should be easy, too.
Once you have the people, NALathletics’ next step is making them into a team. A real team, one that gives you accountability on the tough days, support on the rough days and celebrations and appreciation on the good days. Teammates who actually get what you’re doing. Eventually, the perks of a team like gear and coaching. And then the real reason teams exist: compete as a team. Wear your colors and go for the win as a team. Represent your community and your city as a team. Be recognized by your fans and social followers as part of that team. Get taken care of because you’re part of team.
Should be hard to do but easy to explain why it’s a good thing, right?
What do you have to lose? Literally. What?
In my entire life I’ve never seen people hew more closely to something they openly acknowledge does nothing for them than track & field athletes and the sport as it is. I’ve never seen nameless, formless fear of the harmless so irrational (at least not until coronavirus lockdowns started).
I never could have imagined the two Olympic medalists - one now coaching Olympians - who told me they were not willing to do a quick interview for a sports “at home lifestyle” site because they weren’t sure how it would go over with their sponsors. Nor could I have imagined the coach who prevented me from talking to one of his athletes for about 20 minutes because they were “really focusing” on the season. That was in March or April.
All of them, by the way, are on record - on Twitter, if not elsewhere - complaining about the lack of “exposure” and “opportunities” for themselves or the sport as a whole.
What do you have to lose? Poverty, anonymity, rejection, isolation and the hopeless wondering 'Why can't we be like other sports?'
Even after all that I was still unprepared to learn about how some of the athletes who were on the losing end of the Pan-Am Games selection criteria debacle in 2019 refused to speak up or partake in the federally-protected arbitration process for fear that doing so would lead to repercussions for their career.
What career? The chance to get screwed again? The dream of being the best in their event and making $40,000 a year pre-tax with no medical? The years of complaining that there needs to be “more,” but once they have a pittance they meekly shut up because they’re so desperately relieved just to have it? How could the repercussions be any worse than what they defined as success?
I can’t explain to them why NALathletics - either big picture or simply in these early days as the AirBnB of athletics - is good for them. There’s no point in it.
I’m talking to you others now.
Everyone has nothing to lose. NALathletics is here for those who know that, and are ready to build something worth having.
Our hashtag was inspired by a gentleman I talked to last summer. Think Ari Gold combined with Larry David.
He advised me to leave people to their natural right to be poor and stupid (his words), because there’s nothing I can do for them. He said find one, maybe two people* who actually want to make money and have fulfillment as a professional athlete in athletics, and eventually everyone else will come up to them with a confused look on their faces and ask “How’d you do it?” He said if it doesn’t matter to them, they can’t matter to me.
This is #ForThoseWhoWantIt.