While this statement “Triathlon is a Sport” may sound like a statement of the obvious it really isn’t. To most triathletes this is a “no brainer” but to the layman and the recreational participate and many parents it isn’t the obvious. So many folks view triathlon as an extra-curricular activity. Something done is the off season from soccer, football or basketball. The reality is Triathlon is a sport, an Olympic sport and since 2014 a Collegiate sport for women.
Why is triathlon not as popular or mainstream as other sports? That’s the million dollar question. Triathletes train hard, race for prize money and both men and women get paid the same. Seems like this should be worthy of the title, Sport. Well, maybe it’s how the sport came about initially; as a sport of and for age groupers. Elites came a bit later in 1989, (the sport was founded in the US in 1982).
In August 1990 the United States hosted the second ITU Triathlon World Championship in Orlando, Fla. More than 1,200 athletes from 40 countries competed. The International Olympic Committee officially recognized triathlon as an Olympic sport and the ITU as the sole international governing body in 1991. In 1993 the Pan American Games approved triathlon for competition at the 1995 Pan Am Games in Mar De Plata, Argentina.
The IOC’s recognition of triathlon as an Olympic sport allowed the federation to be eligible for up to $250,000 in grants from the USOC. The first Goodwill Games Triathlon was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 23, 1994. The sport finally reached its ultimate goal of being included on the Olympic program at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. (Courtesy of USA Triathlon website)
There are a number of youth and junior development team in the US and athlete are competing at the local, national and international level. Where does that happen in most of the other sports in America?
Suggestion for a Fix
It is important that coaches, athletes and USA Triathlon do a better job of popularizing the sport and acknowledging the fact that it is indeed a sport. Athletes young and old should communicate this, the sport needs to get into the school system and compete within school districts. Parents need to see the value of their child competing in a life sport that may lead to a professional career but more importantly it teach life skills such as commitment, dedication, consistency and the values of goal setting, organization and critical thinking.
It is time Triathlon received its long overdue respect as a viable sports’ option for youth in America. Triathlon indeed is a sport not an extracurricular activity.
Now get busy promoting the sport.