Politicians shouting past each other, talk show hosts angrily racing further and further into their respective Right and Left corners and dozens of daily doses of vitriol in our news feeds. It’s enough to make one think that the world has gone mad.
Triathlon, running and cycling aren't immune and we have had our fair share of drama. Plus, the tactic of attacking anyone who calls for fairness seems to have made its way from Washington to our little corner of the world. Recently, we were at the Women’s Triathlon in Denver that we sponsor and got to catch up with some amazing customers and ambassadors. Several of these ladies had raced IM Texas earlier in the year and they shared stories about the inordinate amount of drafting that they witnessed. Reports were that the most common response to a complaint during the race about drafting was something to the effect of “F’ off, everyone’s doing it!”
Once we got back to the Coeur office we had to have an evening debrief session. These are fairly common and more often than not, the conversation ping pongs between topics. The list of subjects discussed frequently includes updates on training (or lack thereof), race results (our own and everyone we cheer for), along with a healthy dose of pets, politics, and world events.
While we cover a lot of ground during these discussions and don’t hold back on our opinions, we rarely share our views publically. Instead, we try to keep our public message positive and generally consider that the glass as half full. The exceptions to our “keep it positive” modus operandi have generally been about doping and cheating.
We feel like we have something of a right to share our opinion on those topics. That’s because it’s incredibly painful when we see people disrespecting the sports that we love and that have done so much for us personally and professionally. There’s also the economic risk that if triathlon becomes embroiled in too many scandals that potential new entrants to the sport will decide to direct their time and their $$’s somewhere else. Plus, can you imagine what it must feel like to miss a podium or a Kona slot because the person in front of you decided it was ok to take some type of performance enhancing drug? Gah! We’d lose our minds.
However, it’s not quite as clear to us how outspoken we can be when it comes to advocating for other causes. That’s because even when we condemn doping and cheating, we still get the occasional “shut up and just sell clothes” comment in our email or Facebook feed. Even so, there’s approximately zero chance that we’re going to back down from sharing our views on those topics. They are just too important.
So, unless you’re poking a needle full of EPO in your bottom, cutting the course, or you are latched on to someone’s wheel during a non-draft legal triathlon, you can generally count on us to keep our views on other topics private.
Over the past year or so, we’ve become increasingly bothered by how quickly people get demonized when they try to share a point of view that in any way differs from the person across from them. It seems as if the gloves come off and the fists go up the second it becomes clear that two people are different in any one of a myriad of ways.
Your political party starts with a D and mine starts with an R? Boom…it’s on! Oh...you like Country Music? Well...I like Hip Hop. Fight time! Hey…your skin is a slightly different color than mine. Well…you get the picture.
We’ve seen this time and again from people on both sides of whatever issue is on the table and it makes us wonder how we got here.
And: “What ever happened to civility?”
We’re certainly not suggesting that people have to look, think or act the same way and we know we'll all never agree on everything. And that's ok. In fact, we believe that spirited debate and civil discourse are not only enjoyable but they are also critically important to our society.
Our hope is that more and more people will feel compelled to move away from the insults and the scorched earth rhetoric and engage in respectful debate. We need to elevate respect, humbleness and being armed with arguments that factually back up your position instead of just launching into YOU=BAD, ME=GOOD. There are plenty of people we fundamentally disagree with on a lot of things (I'm looking at you mom!) but love deeply and admire hugely. An opinion on one or two topics is not the whole of a person.
Definitely stand up for what you believe in and stand your ground. We'd never suggest that someone should abandon their values. However, we'd love to see more situations where two people share points of view and actually listen to what the other person is saying. Then respectfully agree to disagree. Then, take a deep breath and go for a run or a ride together.
Happy Training and Racing Everyone.
Your Friends at Coeur