Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Making Sense and Cents

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!

11 comments:

Cormac said...

It's indeed a sad state of affairs. This probably isn't what you want to hear, but it's just bad luck that the same season you're jumping monstrous jumps is the same season the world is plunged into an economic crisis and the suits at the top of the Sports Attire companies decide to tighten their sponsorship belts. You should show them what they're missing in Berlin and drop one again - victory for the Golden shorts, stripy socks and headband against the swoosh and triple stripe!

Or you could do a Romain Mesnil and run naked through your chosen city and jump feet first into a sand box. Just a thought.

Bianca said...

You have WAY more in you. I know you do. And since I was with you when you bought those socks, you bettre wear the. ALL of them :)

I believe in you.

Anonymous said...

i dont knw you but im a 28 yr old female athlete and your stories are so inspiring and just like you I believe that my best yrs in track are still ahead of me .I missed making the team to berlin but i knw ill make the team in 2011 and then olympics in 2012 and I knw you will too sos keep on keeping on and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

At the US Nats in Eugene, OR a few weeks ago, I overheard an interesting conversation (only because the parties sat just behind me on the bleachers at Hayward). It was a meeting between a classy dressed sports agent (he was totally out of place at Hayward in his crisp white shirt, tie and black pants) and a young college athlete and the athlete's father (both of whom seemed excited at the beginning of the conversation). I was shocked at what this agent was offering (in the amount of money and the basic rule that the agent pretty much owns their arse for the next few years). My heart goes out to all pro athletes. You definitely do not get what you deserve for how hard you work. It bugs me that some young athletes get paid based on their 'potential' when they haven't proven themselves over the long haul. Kudos to all who keep doing it for the love of the sport while not making the money they rightfully deserve. Fight the fight will all you can give, do what makes you happy, love your life and live it with honor and integrity. Your fans will always love you.

Slim Jackson said...

Good Post. Track athletes are underpaid to begin with as far as I'm concerned. I'm actually curious how some of the countries you're visiting treat their track and field athletes? I've seen some of the prize monies on these European Circuit meets and it seems like all the U.S. has is the Visa Championship Series.

I am inspired by your drive though. I think most of us who read this blog are.

fstevens said...

Just like one of the other responders said, jump so well that you make the sponsors "WISH" that they could have you as a representative... A well-paid representative....
Have a great one!!!!!

j buck said...

(there is a person or firm who should be fired and its not you)!

If you have no deals in place by now with the kick ass performances you are turning in event after event! My god, you just won Spain's main event with a giant leap! You are jumping personal bests over and over in events!

My god (again), your representing the United Sates of America! Are they, they being the United States of America going to let you wear your gold shorts and socks? Or do you have to conform to USA clothes?

I'd say, HEY, NO CONTRACT, I'M WEARING MY GOLD SHORTS AND SOCKS!

You have earned the right to represent the USA in the year 2009 in the World Finals event of Women's Long Jumping and you get no respect? Hello Obama, has anyone called him? He seems to be handing out money in a patriotic manner! WTF? Why not Women Long Jumpers representing the country!

Just curious. Seems like everything in life politics at work.

F them! Wear the gold and socks with a banner sign on your back saying "Briana's Steak House, No Contract, No Steak Sauce!"

jb

Marcus said...

Pick the company you would most like to be sponsored by, then do your meets wearing nothing but gear from their biggest competitior. Just make sure they know you're not actually sponsored by their competitor. I bet they'd call you then if you keep winning. :)

By the way, I'll pay you $20 to watch you jump over a parked car... long ways of course.

Ale said...

I could be wrong, but I was pretty surprised when I saw Dwight Phillips competing in Eugene "sponsored" by Terrence Trammell's Track Star Apparel.
"The swoosh didn't renewd him the contract after Beijing" - I tought - maybe even because he's starting to get "old". But then, after he dropped the 2nd best performance of all time in Oregon, all of the sudden, during his first competition overseas, he was hanging on the track in an orange & gray outfit. They were probably waiting for him in the mix zone in Eugene, with a pen and a contract in their hands.

Now, the point is: ok, we're all stucked (hopefully, not for much longer) in this damn crisis, BUT.
Can you really give up on an Olympic gold medalist and two time W. Champion (plus a bronze in Japan) who always competed for you just because he didn't performed on the top of the world last year?
Is it really a smart idea to stop supporting a track ambassador like Diwght only because he's over 30?

YE$$$$$$$ is the answer.
Sad, but true.

t.v. said...

Hey, I'll raise Marcus $20 and pay you $40. Parked car... sideways of course. lol.

Remember your networking post a few months back? Well, maybe it's time you brush up on your networking skills and put yourself out there.

Looking good on the track, now it's time to look even better off it.

Anonymous said...

always great blog! problem #1 all track athletes get stuckon the big 4 shoe companies for sponsorship--notsmart since they dont give a shit about track athletes since 99% of you don't make them money--u cost them money--so since you and afew other female athletes have amazing fit bodies you all need to go outside the box--for sponsorship. O magazine-wasnt jackie joyner sponsored by Honda and doesn't General Motors have an image problem right now? Ford motor company stock is up 600% & ford fusion is a hot car and so is the flex--and you fit there demographic beauty wise age wise etc; Nike this Adidas that--they are both bullshit--radioshack just committed a ton of cash to lance armstrong for next years tour--what does radioshack have anything to do with cycling?
What about apple dont ya'll be listening to ipods?--do you see where i'm going with this--you gotta know ur value so they can see it--u gotta believe it so they do--u gotta make them understand how to live the dream and how does that connect with consumers--there are plenty of sponsors out there--look in other places-whirlpool--don't you need to wash them gold shorts and socks from all that playing in the sand?---joep vegas/dc