Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Performance Pain

I find it so unbelievably ironic and frustrating the difference between women doing triathalons and men doing them. For men its showing their vitality and their ability to deal with pain for women its about finding a reason to survive. Why is it that when women become athletes we have to have some sort of pressing reason to push us in their pursuit of athletic prowess. We can't just seek to do a sport because we enjoy it.

This idea of the triathalon as a mark of a moment to decide to survive intrigues me. What is it that makes the triathalon the starting point for women specifically to decide to continue on with their life and find a new reason to survive. Women said they did because of an end to a relationship, age, and disease. They have to push themselves to do things they have never done before and go beyond whatever they thought they were capable of. I do think the emotional connection with becoming this type of active is a true representation. It requires a whole new form of determination and new want to be a person again. I just find its interesting that the triathalon is becoming this outlet for women. Prof. Striff discussed how it was a badge of honor and how you would automatically gain respect for being a triathlete and I feel that this is the basis of the reasoning. Women are seeking a new way to gain respect for themselves whether its within their community or if its just with themselves.

The Iron Man has always been an event that fascinates me. Part of me secretly wants to do it while the other part is absolutely piss scared. You look at the ironmen and they don't look human anymore. They become machines to the event and seek to just survive the next stride, stroke, and pedal. How does become romanticized in one's mind? The amount of pain that a person must go through would be enough to scare most people away yet the Iron Man is sold out again and again and again. I think the idea of survivorship comes into play with this as well. People seek to find ways to prove to themselves that they can overcome and survive. The Iron Man is a way for athletes to show themselves that they can overcome and succeed. I would love to talk to someone a year after finishing an Iron Man. I am curious to see if they have an entirely new outlook.

What confuses me is how this idea of survivorship isn't discussed generally when the Iron Man is brought up. Instead we are to look at these athletes with reverence and also think of them as being somewhat insane. I feel as though that because the event is mostly male the idea of survivorship is something that should not be discussed. The male athlete is idolized and seen as flawless and there is nothing behind their desire to compete other than the want to succeed. The only time survivorship is discussed is when it is a man with a disability.

I find myself so hopeful and so frustrated with the triathlete realm after this lecture. There still remains a huge seperation between the male and female triathletes. They all endure and they all seek to find a reason to survive why can't this be the story that is told across the board?