My Fellow Athletes: ASK what your sport can do for you, but also what YOU can do for your sport

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Track and Field Athletes come together

It’s said that track and field is an individual sport, and that’s true in many ways, but in any movement towards the promised land you will get there much faster as a team collectively rather than individually. Our sport’s culture has created track and field athletes that don’t see a future for our sport and thus keep their focus exclusively on their own career. Don’t get me wrong – doing whatever you need to do to make the best out of your professional career should always be at the forefront – but you must pay your dues. Just like we pay taxes as citizens of this country, the same things applies to being a U.S. track and field athlete. We are are the blood pumping in the body of our sport, the organs that keep the body functioning, and it seems as if little by little our body is breaking down and losing functionality.

What do I think? I think that track and field has bred a race full of leaders. This sounds like a great thing until you realize exactly what a leader is. A leader has followers, followers that share the same thoughts and concepts. Followers that will follow their lead. You see, every leader has a vision of how things should be, and it is their job to direct the followers toward that vision. But what happens when you have a bunch of leaders and no followers? A bunch of leaders with a bunch of ideas of how our sport should be now and in the future.

Our sport is in dire need of all of us athletes coming together for the greater good. I know it sounds so cliche, but it’s so true and so necessary at this time. While we are fighting amongst each other about who gets paid the most and who deserves more than one another or who’s the face of our sport, there is an uprising of people outside our circle with their own vision of what our sport should be. So how do we direct our attention toward getting all of these leaders (athletes) to come together? We can start by finding our commonalities. For instance, we all want our sport to survive, we all want our sport to be amongst the most popular sports in our country and the world, and we all want security in our sport, into which we put so much of our lives, training and sacrificing every day.

I look at it this way: We are all athletes drawing our own lines to get to one point in our career – let’s just say we are a bunch of parallel lines. Typically parellel lines don’t intersect, and right now this is where we are. There’s a different form of geometry allowing for parallel lines to intersect as long as they are each connected to one point – infinity. There is an infinity point on our track and field journey where we all can meet no matter what event we are coming from. This point needs to be unveiled and mapped so that we all meet there, each getting there with our own visions and directions but in the end we all are moving to a single point: infinity.

The time to come together is NOW. Fight the urge to travel this path alone. Travel it with your Track Family. We are so much more powerful and meaningful together. I know we are capable of aiming for the same ultimate goal while meeting our own individual goals at the same time. If anyone is capable of that, it’s US. If anyone can change this sport for the better, it’s US. If anyone can bring track and field back to the forefront, it’s US. Because we are the #1 track team in the world. We’ve grown up together, traveled together, competed fiercely and still respected each other, helped each other out during rough times, argued and made amends with each other, and made memories together. Despite our differences and despite our geographic separation, we can work together. And the time is NOW. 

The TFAA is our independent athletes’ association. WE and WE ALONE are responsible for its success. WE are its strength. If you aren’t a member, become one today. I urge you, my fellow athletes and leaders, to stand together.

(photo credit: GoTrackTownUSA.com)

Lashinda Demus

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