Thursday, July 18, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
For the Love of Sport

By: Chris Jeffries

I was reminded of something very important this morning by one of my team mates.  Today was day 2 of our 10 day glacier camp, and halfway up the hike from base camp to the glacier, I remarked to Dan Roycroft in a tired tone: ďonly 8 more times up this mountain.Ē  His reply was simple, ďI love this.Ē  I had forgotten why I do this, although for only a short time.  Those 3 simple words helped to start bring me out of a small funk Iíve found myself in the last couple of days.  Why would I want to be anywhere else than skiing on this mountainside experiencing some of Albertaís finest weather.  If I hadnít chosen this particular career path, Iíd probably find myself suffering through another muggy day in the big city doing the 9-5.  It isnít often that I find myself needing a reminder.  In fact, I love my job more every day that I do this.  How could you not?  We get to travel around the world, meet all sorts of new people, and do sport for a living.  When the time comes every spring to work a tough manual labour job in order to make ends meet for the season, I realise how hard my inevitable decision to quit will be.

 

When I can forget why I do this, it doesnít surprise me when others who arenít associated with high performance sport have a hard time justifying our lives.   Why I do this is simple.  I love the lifestyle, and I know this holds true for all amateur athletes.  I was recently involved in a discussion panel on CBCís coverage of amateur athletics.  It was a very productive hour, and many positive ideas were discussed.  One question asked was how we define amateurism?  Amateur vs. professional has become a bit of a grey area over the years.  Is it determined by how much money you make?  Do you represent a corporation vs. a nation?  Both of these criteria overlap, and there was much disagreement amongst the various athletes represented.  But one opinion shared by everyone is that amateurs compete for the love of their sport.  It doesnít always matter if they win or lose.  I think itís the entire journey that makes our careers so rewarding.  Itís looking back on all of the hard work and sacrifices that were made that make a result a success, not the colour of the medal or the prize money won.  I know that sounds lame, or even like a losing attitude, but I think you need to have this attitude in order to succeed.  Letís be serious, the chances of falling ass backwards into money in this sport, in this country, are slim to none.  Does that make me rethink my chosen path for the next 4 or even 8 years?  The day that I find myself on this mountain or on a late October morning in Alaska with temperatures plunging below -20 and I canít remind myself why Iím doing this will be the day I hang up the skis.  Unfortunately, Iím not sure if Iíll ever see that day. 


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