Which sport can boast breeding the best athlete? In my humble opinion, I believe that soccer is THE sport that produces the best athletes. While it may be difficult to agree on the proper definition of the word “athlete,” I feel that a true athlete is one who would succeed in a wide-range of athletic tasks outside his or her target sport. (In other words, a soccer player would thrive on a basketball court, hockey rink, or baseball diamond.) Included in my definition is the ability to complete even the most grueling of challenges, with little to no training leaning on your experience as an athlete of your particular sport.
Here is my challenge and how I am going to prove my above statement
October 1, 2010.
Over some friendly banter at work comparing soccer players to baseball players, I claimed that baseball players were the non-athlete “athlete.” To put it differently, I stated that soccer players would thrive in other competitions while baseball players’ skills, both physical and technical, could only lead to success on a baseball diamond. We started imagining applying our skills in other sports, first to football and basketball, and later to marathons and ironman distance triathlons. I felt hands-down, soccer built superior athletes to baseball players.
I stated that soccer builds endurance, stamina, hand-eye and foot-eye coordination, while also raising one’s agility and speed. I claimed the abilities that I’ve gained from playing soccer would enable me to succeed on a basketball court, on the grid-iron, on skates, or behind the plate. I didn’t stop there. I proceeded to state that endurance one gains from playing soccer would provide me with the mental and physical fortitude to even complete an Ironman, without formal training.
My history as a soccer player started when I was 4 (I’m 24 now). I feel I can lean on my 20 years experience and physical and mental capacities gained from playing the beautiful game to complete even the most grueling of physical tests. While I realize that people run across the Sahara or to the North Pole, an Ironman is the highest test of athleticism, mental strength, and physical aptitude for mainstream society.
To make a long story short, he scoffed and said I was crazy (while laughing in my face.) I repeated my claim and told him to find me an ironman race and I’ll do it. He thought I was continuing to bluff until I made him the following proposition: you spot the flight, hotel, entrance fee, bike rental, and transportation and if I don’t finish, I’ll pay you back double. His laughing continued and called me out saying I’d never go through with it. Who else would willingly swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112, and top it off by running a marathon (26.2 miles) to prove a claim? It’s impossible without at least some sort of preparation, right?
I repeated my claim, “I could do an Ironman, no training.”
He thought he’d called my bluff when he found an upcoming race (in 3 weeks time in Florida nonetheless) and waited to see if I would register. He handed me his card and went to lunch. By the time he got back, not only did I register, I booked a flight, a hotel, and a bike for the race! He was shocked (which, needless to say, is a tremendous understatement)
Full disclosure: I’m not a swimmer (haven’t swam recently but intend on practicing once or twice), rarely bike, but I do play a fair amount of soccer. )
Well, I believe I can finish the race in 16 hours. The race starts at 7:30am, with several cut offs along the way where if you don’t pass you get DQ’ed. Everyone who hasn’t finished by 1:00am will be DQ’ed. (17.5 hours is the maximum time allotted)
Here’s the bet I’ve made with other people. For every minute I finish the race over 16 hours, I’ll pay you $1. If I don’t finish for whatever reason (bike failure, fatigue, drowning, heat exhaustion, alligators, etc) I’ll front a $50 non-finishing payment. However, for every minute I finish under 16 hours you have to put up $1 (all of which will be donated to the Susan B Komen Center for Breast Cancer Research).
Up to this point I have raised over $10,000 that will be donated to charity. I encourage you to take me up on this bet or if not donate to such a worthy cause. I have a vested, personal interest in finding a cure for breast cancer and am using this as an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the Komen Center’s effort to rid our Moms, sisters, daughters, and friends of this terrible disease.
Maybe I’m naive and crazy. I’ve never biked for more than 30 minutes at a time (the average time for the bike is 5-6hours) and cumulatively my life-time swimming endeavors don’t even add up to a mile. Or maybe I’m right. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
5 days until the race, please keep reading for further updates, funny stories, and news about the race, my story, and my efforts to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.