I second the sentiment of this article and share the same observations. I
played baseball and football in HS. My HS son runs XC. Couldn't be more
proud and more excited to see him get better and better, and cheer for all
runners regardless of their position. There is a tendency to blame
"politics" in team sports when your child isn't getting playing
time you think he/she deserves. In XC, they either run or they don't.
They either finish or they don't. If they beat another runner, it is
because they earned it, worked for it and executed. No "politics"
here.... love it.
Great commentary. As a life long coach I have always tried to put the personal
progress concept into whichever sport I have coached. However I have to agree
that cross country and I add track and field have been by far the most rewarding
as I have watched athletes from rival schools create friendships that startle as
they ran against each other. Sometimes one would win and then the other. These
are life lessons as we learn how to compete in the real world. I encourage all
potential athletes to look at these sports as avenues that the can find pure
success at in their own individual way.
And, lest my comments be dismissed as anti-team sports, I absolutely love
watching college football and basketball, as one might deduce from my screen
name. It's just not a viable lifelong pursuit for most people. I'll
probably encourage my kids in other directions unless they really want to try
out football or something (although this is partly because I will not be passing
on any genetic advantages in the size and fast-twitch muscle departments).
BYU Track Star's comment highlights another advantage that distance running
has over most other high school sports, in that it can become a lifelong
pursuit. In sports like basketball and football, after high school you are
either good enough to play college ball or you are relegated to the annual
neighborhood Turkey Bowl until your back or knees fail. After college,
it's either on to the pros for the few remaining years that your body holds
up, or again, back to the Turkey Bowl. Running is different. I know of a man
who ran marathons until Parkinson's finally stopped him sometime in his 80s
(and even then he wouldn't quit trying). I know of other folks who are
running ultramarathons well into their 60s and 70s. Personally, I could have
been a scholarship runner at most universities, but I chose not to sell my soul
to the NCAA and pursue marathon running instead. When I got bored with that, I
got into trail ultras, and if/when I ever get tired of those I'll try
something else. It's all up to me, and that's what I love about it.
In addition to what's mentioned in the article, other benefits to running
include:-It's easy to keep as a life-long hobby-It teaches
self-discipline like few other sports can-All the health benefits with
almost none of the risks (despite what the "it'll ruin your knees!"
Fantastic article and spot-on in your assessment of the traditional sports
mentality. While most sports feature a war-like opposition of teams,
cross-country racing features everyone running the same direction. This isn't to say team-building doesn't feature at all, because it
is an enormous part of the successful culture of any team. No one's playing
time is diminished becuased they mentored a talented up and comer. Some of the
greatest leaders on teams I've been a part of weren't the fastest, but
the most upbeat, dedicated, and caring "harriers". I will
strongly encourage my children's participation when they reach that age.
Whereas Cross-Country in High School was a blast. Running at the College level
was a whole different matter. The College workouts were so exhausting one's
body would be in an Excercise induced haze until 8 or 9pm. and one would still
have 4 or 5 hours of Homework every evening, like: Calculus, Physics and,
Chemistry. X-C gave me the toughness to make it through Engineering school. Part
of the growing up process in College is gaining that self-awareness of what you
can and can't fit in. I decided early on that being a competent Engineer
trumped being an All-American in Cross country. I have no regrets and 40 Years
later I still go running before my Engineering work day begins. No regrets.and
Totally agree with the article. If I'm looking at a resume I'll take
the cross country kid over the hoopster or football player every time.The
culture around baseball,basketball and football is corrupt and worldly.