As I spent an hour and a half looking for my a specific shirt for the Arnold Sports Festival this weekend, and I have dryer full of games shirts, stupidly bright Under Armour compression shorts, and my "Kick Today in the Dick" socks... #HVIIBRANDGOODS I've had a lot of time to think about what it really means to compete at event like the Arnold. I've been doing this sport for 12 years, and in reality this impromptu competition will be this biggest venue myself or most of these throwers will ever be part of.
There a lot of Highland Games that have a lot more prestige and history, but the pure number of the people that attend the Arnold over the weekend is staggering. Represented by dozens and dozens of countries competing in all these different sports as well as just the waves of patrons, this is closest that most of us will ever get to being in an Olympic Experience. Which brings me to the point of this article....
YOU ARE NOT AN ATHLETE!
At least not first and foremost. The first thing you are is a representative of the festival that is providing the space to compete. You are a salesman and the product you are trying to sell.
(Quick side note, sometimes when I'm competing and my nerves are a little tight, when I'm in the trig I'll whisper to myself "There is no spoon"... I feel half of you thinking that's funny, and the other half yelling NERRRRDDDD!!!)
A couple things that specifically highland games athletes need to realize, and when you do, it's going to help you get into more games. The only reason we are able to throw at a lot of these festivals, is because we are entertainment for the people that are paying to attend the festival. And we are able to come back when the festival is profitable. If the festival is in the red, they are going to start cutting certain things in their budget, and POOF! no more highland games at that festival.
The insurance to have a competition is often the biggest expense for a lot of these festivals depending on their situation. From a business stand point, we as throwers need to justify that expense by putting on a great performance for the paying customers. Many of us hate Caber, or phone in the effort, because once you've flipped a 12:00 on NASGA you're done for the year, you can't score any more points in that event. Here is the thing though, like it or not, it is the crowd favorite and most recognizable event in our sport.
" Oh is that thing where you throw telephones or something?"
When the festival organizers see the entire athletic field surrounded completely and several people deep on all sides because we are putting on a bomb ass caber show...guess what... you just justified that money and the athletes are coming back for years to come.
Sorry that was a lot of actual serious talk.... here's some cute shit...
So what does all this mean for you as an athlete, how does that info and mindset help you? It is a factor that is going to help you get into more games. There aren't that many games during the year that the invites are based only on performance. For the most part those are only your top level games, all the rest of them throwing far is just part of it.
Talk to all the athletic directors that you know for the highland games, they all have turned down a request or not sent an invite to someone because the athlete in question was a D**khead. This is where athletes coming in from other sports sometimes have a problem initially. The power dynamic between AD and Athlete... is almost 100% in favor of the AD. Athletic Directors do not owe you an invite, or Trophies, gift bags, or special little medals that say you were there. The only thing the AD owes you is safe conditions, legal equipment, and measuring your throws. As an athlete you need to justify your presence on the field every time you walk onto it. That means, throwing to the best of your ability, following the rules of the field/association, being nice to or talking to the patrons. This part is simple but eludes some people.
Alright let's bring this home!!!
For those of you that don't know, The GLSAA was able to get us a spot at the Arnold very last minute. And like the studs that they are, within a couple weeks they were able to put a championship caliber field of Men's A, Masters, and Female athletes, and a crazy deep wait list to go with it. Props to them for getting this put together on the shortest notice possible and making it awesome.
The 30 or so of us that will be competing this weekend need to take this to heart, that we aren't just athletes
or representatives of the Arnold Sports Festival, but this time we are representing the Highland Games as a sport to all the other Strength Sports and fans attending this colossus of an event. When you think about it like that compared to the level of athletes that are representing their sports at this, one its a huge honor, but two this is our
opportunity to justify having a permanent place at the premier strength festival in the world. This isn't a
competition, its a two day sales pitch to the planning board of the Arnold. We have a chance to make this a permanent staple and grow our sport in both numbers and recognition.
Do yourself and myself and himself and herself all a favor. Think about this the next time you step on a field. Are you justifying your presence and are you helping the festival by giving the paying patrons their money's worth?
Thanks for reading #ForzaFaithful, as always please comment and share. As well as follow me on the Tweets and the Grams @MattHandThrows... AND COME SEE ME i'll be hall A in the convention center pretty much all of Friday and Saturday, and I'll be posting where I am through out the weekend. Get a Selfie with me and use the hashtag #ForzaAthletics and be entered to win a sweet forza shirt... They're nice too its like being hugged by that panda. Check out the shirt below. LOOK OUT COLUMBUS.
Former Track and Field athlete and coach turned Highland Games Athlete. Follow along for advice mostly through trial and error, and maybe a few laughs along the way. My mom says i'm funny and handsome, and obviously she's right. LOL