Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For the Love of It

The Amgen Tour of California is going on this week. Levi Leipheimer, the defending champion, is leading the overall classification.

If you read, & every day (as I do), it is easy to keep up with race news. If you read any other mainstream daily newspaper or watch the news, you won’t hear a single mention of the race.

Oh . . . I take that back. Lance Armstrong is racing – his first race on US soil since the Leadville 100 in August, and that has generated one or two reports on ESPN.

But even borderline obsessive bike geeks like me might not know that there was a women’s event associated with the Tour of California. Thank you New York Times for giving a shout out to the mostly anonymous women bike racers.

This article highlights the reality of professional sports for most women. Sure, there are a few stars on the LPGA tour, and if I give you a few minutes you may be able to name at least one woman who plays in the WBNA.

Maybe it’s my estrogen talking, but I honestly enjoy watching many women’s sports more than men’s.

I love the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. I know I’m old, but I grew up playing basketball when defense was still considered an important part of the game. Watching men’s hoops, it’s all about the offense. In the women’s game, fundamentals matter, and I think it makes the game much more fun to watch.

I also love to watch LPGA golf. A couple of year’s ago the Women’s US Open was held at Cherry Hills Golf Course. We spent a day wandering around the course and watching the amazingly talented players. I have also been to watch the men’s field at the International in Castle Rock. With the guys, it is kind of overwhelming. There is simply no way I can drive the crazy distances they do, so I have a hard time relating to their game. The women in the LPGA also out-drive me by about 150 yards, but somehow their play seemed more like something I could aspire to. Finesse counts – it isn’t all about power.

At the end of the day, maybe I enjoy the women’s games because I know that they know they are playing for the love of it.

Maybe .5% will be able to make a living playing their sport. They are never going to sign an Alex Rodriguez-type contract. Yet they devote themselves with passion and determination that I find inspiring.

Maybe that is why I relate to them. I’m never going to win a bike race.


But I enjoy the challenge and I am driven to improve. Every time I enter an event, the few spectators that show up (hey, it’s local amateur racing, not the Tour de France) shout “You Go Girl!!”

And I do.

And I’m better for it.

1 comment: