Monday, November 12, 2012

Running—The Most Democratic of Sports

Running—The Most Democratic of Sports
Running is a very democratic endeavor. It can be done just about anywhere, and little equipment is needed. Everyday runners often compete on the same course at the same time as the world's best.

Running—The Most Democratic of Sports

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 12 November, 2012
Reposted by Todd Stockton

In many ways running is the most democratic of sports. Anyone can participate anywhere she or he chooses. It matters not if running athletes are rich or poor, female or male, old or young. Ethnicity, race, religious persuasion, and orientation are irrelevant. Size has no bearing. Location-location-location becomes anywhere-anytime-any distance in the runners’ world.
There are no rich franchise owners—anyone can be a race director. Running clubs and national organizations are staunchly democratic, with no aristocratic elite; they are open to all, and at every level.
Running can be done alone, or with small groups, or with thousands.

Running is one of the oldest of athletic activities, and the most utilitarian in origin. Nobody asks a runner about occupation, but may inquire as to pace, base, and next race. No one tells a runner she is not welcome. It is wide open, for all.
Running is also the most portable of sports. It depends only on attitude, not on latitude or geographic location. Except for busy highways or other dangers (never run on Interstates, for example), there are few roads, streets, neighborhoods, parks, paths, and trails where runners are not seen. This portability means that traveling is no obstacle. And running is running whether residing in Florida or Minnesota, Flanders or Manitoba.
Great runners come from all corners of the globe, and so do average and slow runners. And they come from all walks of life. Athletes stride through deserts, forest, and fields; runners enjoy riverside or ocean-side jaunts. Runners run up and down mountains. They run pretty much where and when they choose.

Technology plays a very small role in running. Shoes are the only real investment required (although some would argue now that even shoes are not needed), and the technology for building running shoes and for developing shoe materials has advanced tremendously. Complex watches that are mini computers, heart rate and other monitors, and GPS devices are now part of running for many, but they certainly are not necessary. There is still relatively little expense. Some seem genuinely determined to spend a lot of money on clothing and watches, shoes and monitors. You can, if you like. But really there are few things necessary to spend money on, except for comfortable clothing, travel, and race fees.
At the scholastic and collegiate level, racing is one of the healthiest of competitions, and the one with the least cost, especially cross-country. Not only is it the least costly, but also it really is the only sport that one can compete in at school, and continue to compete decades later into one’s senior years.

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