The sport of track and field doesn’t always make sense. There are those who get paid a good amount, plenty more that don’t, and a few sprinkled in between. During the time I’ve been a part of this sport, I’ve seen drastic changes in the way in which contracts are given out, and the amounts that people’s talents are valued at. Sometimes they make sense, and sometimes they don’t. Up until now, I’ve accepted whatever my position was and made the best of it, knowing that I had the ability to change my lot simply by being the athlete I knew I could be. Shoe companies will pay for success. They will pay to support athletes who make teams. I thought.
It seems as if I might have thought wrong. I have no idea exactly what makes an athlete a valuable commodity, I am just beginning to see that what I have to offer may not be it. Obviously this sport will more than likely not be my ticket to fame and fortune, I just hoped it could be my ticket to breath a little. And maybe I haven’t even got to the point where I should expect that kind of security, but I am now aware that where I imagined the top of the mountain to be, may just be an illusion. Getting paid just to be an athlete may not be in my cards. Don’t get me wrong…I like the fact that I can compete in gold shorts because I like them, and I can wear funky socks because nobody can tell me I can’t. But I’d honestly wear a brown paper bag if somebody wanted to pay me to do so. It’s no fun sitting and practice upset because the zipper on your one pair of jump spikes just broke, and now you have to go buy some new ones because you have that small little meet called World Championships coming up.
I don’t claim to be the best long jumper in the World…at least, not yet anyway. I think I’m decent, I think that as of late I’ve shown much improvement, and I think that my future looks very bright and promising. To me, none of that seems to come from left field. I know I haven’t had the world’s greatest success, but those who know me and have seen my athletic ability would vouch for my potential, I believe. I happen to be a person who is very honest and realistic when it comes to speaking of my abilities and what I’m capable of. There is no doubt that I am a confident person, but in a sensible way. I truly do believe that my best years are ahead of me though.
Not everyone shares that sentiment unfortunately, and as much as I need to be ok with that, I still find it a difficult pill to swallow. Everyone should know by now that I’m not afraid to struggle or work hard if it’s something I believe in. But just believing in myself makes it hard to pay the bills. I think that they think I’m old. And yes, we all know that 29 isn’t old in the normal sense, it just isn’t the age that spells f.u.t.u.r.e. You can give a 22 year old a six-year contract and you might get lucky. I might very well have two kids and arthritis in six years. So I get it. But as talented as I seemed to be when I was 22, I would put my money on the 29 year old me any day. But maybe that’s just me. For now though, I will continue to make it work because I have more important things on the horizon to worry about. Besides, I just bought three more pairs of socks I need to try and fit in before the season is over!