This week has been an intersting one. There has been a definite theme of the week and as Michelle and I rode along on an easy ride we discussed it. I thought I would write it up here. The difference in "competition" between men and women.
Without getting into things too much I witnessed some interesting things on Twitter this week that actually, in a round a bout way, made the traffic on my blog blow up, particularly the run portion of my IM Arizona blog post.
It got me thinking about how women compete with each other versus how men compete. First let me say, that I'm attempting to make some observations here. They are generalizations, and maybe they are crappy ones. I'm interested in what you think. So, I'll put it out here and you can feel free to comment away.
Amongst the men it can be a cool dynamic in my opinion. I have seen groups of boys absolutely slaughter each other, like literally every man for himself, drop you like a bad habbit in the middle of nowhere, find your own way home kind of slaughter. Then, when it's all over you can find them laughing over a Chipotle Burrito and a beer, making fun of the carnage, like it was all in good fun.
Most men are willing to hurt each other "for the sport of it". It's not personal. It makes everyone better. At least these are the feelings that I have seen amongst most men. Usually those who hurt together form a bond. Sure there are exceptions, but generally this is what I have seen.
Men also like to talk smack. We have all seen last years Ironman video when Macca just throws up smack talk all over the camera. Total verbal diarrhea. Then he went forth and beat down everyone. I would say there where a few instances that Macca acted more like a girl than a guy and I will point those out (and attempt to prove that those few points are why he strikes an off chord with so many), but for the most part it's genuine, bone fide, classic, dude-style shit talking.
I think that guys generally want to beat their competators on their good days. Guys want to show you that even when you show up and have a great day, they are still better.
Chicks are different. Totally different. Sometimes I think that the competition amongst females often resembles high school clicks more than anything. Women seem to want to take down other women emotionally. It's more rare for women to congratulate other women who beat them. It's more likely for them to talk down about them. I see a fair amount of personal attacks. The I don't like her, or she's a b!tch, kind of comments.
This week the husband of a woman in my age group posted a photo on facebook of his wife on the podium with the age group winners face blacked out. To be fair I didn't see the photo, just heard about it. Stuff like that is where the females really excel. Anyone seen the movie "Mean Girls". It's that kind of stuff that seems to run our psychie. I'm not going to say I'm exempt from it. I've been caddy at times. Mostly during times that I personally felt insecure (just trying to keep it real here).
I am a bit intrigued about the "why" though. Is it a self confidence thing that most women would rather their competitor have a blow up of epic proportion or a meltdown so bad they don't even start the race, rather than a great race? Would they rather take the confidence from a fellow woman triathlete rather than take the podium spot from her? I would like to say that all is decided at the finish line, but it seems with women that sometimes the finish line is where the emotional battle begins.
Back to Macca, I think he borderlines on the emotional side of smack talk. The "Crowie lived at my parents house for two years" comment had a way of saying that Crowie is a charity case. It's a personal attack, like he's not enough of a man to take care of himself. It's classic "chick-style" emotional sabotage. He talks down to Crowie not as an athlete (well, he does that too) but as a person.
So the more I thought about it, the more I think it's the personal attack kind of shit talking that will really get you a bad reputation. Everyone loves a little friendly smack talk (Dibens and Carfrae), but when it gets personal, I think people start rooting against you.
I think in our hearts most of us (even the ones who make a living at it...which I am not one of those) feel that this is "sport". You can be a bad person and be good in sport and visa versa. Being a winner doesn't make you a good person. But at times people try to use the personal attack, or innuendo to break somebody down, so that they may persevere the next go around.
I must say, I am really against this.
I got a comment on my blog one time about my frustration at the aid stations in Coeur d'Alene coming off as "elitist". I thought long and hard about this because that word "elitist" really hurt my feelings. After a bit of thought I came to the conclusion that an elitist is someone who thinks they are better. On that day in Coeur d'Alene I was better than all but 3 girls in my age group. Was I a better person? No. Was I a better triathlete? Yes. I don't confuse the two. And I think if you do confuse the two...then elitist is the right term for you.
So, although I know it just seems to be how "girls" are, I will say that the triathlete does not make the person. This is sport and how you conduct yourself within it is a mark of your character. I would say "be a professional" but I don't quite think that hits the mark, as some of the pro women seem to be awesome at emotional sabotage. So I would say, be a good person.
Don't pull a Macca, don't attack the person, attack the athlete if smack talk is your goal. Some people love it and I think there is a healthy place for it. But keep it real. In my opinion, I want every girl in the world that earns a Kona slot on that line in October in the best shape of their lives. I want them to execute perfect races. I want them at their best. Then we all know that where the chips fall, they fall. Whether I am first or last I know it is where I belong. No excuses.
So, to the women in my age group and in others. I support your endeavors. We are alike in our love for swim bike run. I applaud you for fighting tooth and nail for what you want, for racing your heart out, for dealing with the triumph, and the failure. The more we support and stand behind each other, the higher we will all raise our own personal bars.
Thoughts? Have I bit off more than I can chew with this blog post?