Friday, June 22, 2012

The Triathlon Religion

Scott Tinley

In the wintery days of June , I have been  in doors more and reflecting more.

I read some great articles by the  Hall of Famer Scott Tinley .One in particular captured my interest given that Australia Census released its findings on last years census including the issue of religion.

Scott reflected on the question is Triathlon a Religion in the Beginners Triathlete Website.It is a reflection of how serious some of us are about this sport but it is a unique activity and a very young activity .So young that Scott Tinley can claim to be at the birth of the Sport of Triathlon....actually he lived within spitting distance of the first race. He writes an eye witness account of the start of this sport called  36 years in triathlon .The fledgling sport of triathlon in Mission Bay.

There was the purity and the innocence of all new sports . There was a breed of athletes who were challenging the frontiers of what it was to try something different. This soon morphed into the famous Commander Collins challenge in Hawaii and Tinley was there after 1979 .He knew all the greats , Allen , Molina , Warren et al .

“It’s May in 1979 and Tom Warren leaves a copy of that week’s Sport Illustrated Magazine on the front door of the house we’re living in. The issue features his win in February of that year. There’s a note on the cover that says, “You should try this event, Tinley.” He spells Ironman in two words and says, “It’s hard but meaningful. Call me,” he wrote. “I’ll show you how to win at something other than the race.”

It is not only meaningful but as Tinley writes for some it is religion. It begs the fundamental question "what is religion"

Well in the Australian Census there are 65,000 Australians who identify Jedi as their religion. So Triathlon will not be out of place in a Nation that probably lives and breathes sports and is probably one of the unifying factors in being accepted in Australian society.

Tinley comments that the similarities between sport and religion are obvious going back to Ancient Greece.
On the surface both offer places of communal gathering, heroic figures, rituals, and are steeped in a quest for betterment. Sport and religion both celebrate group values and offer excitement and heightened emotions. Sport and religion are grounded in disciplined practice, a devotion to a cause, and a belief in the unseen. And both require faith.
The intersections and overlaps between the two are not hard to identify.
It is a moot point and whilst sport is really a replacement in a commercial secular world where the number of Australians identifying themselves as Christian is falling , I do believe that there is the opportunity to be spiritual in sport and for sportsmen and women to be spiritual, as Tinley points out not in an organised religion.

There lies the point , in that driven regime of training , following the black line in the pool and the empty road for miles and hours , we come to realise that wonderment of peace around us , the solitude of silence and just listening to our heartbeat and breath. In that we may better our souls as he suggest . If that uplifting feeling is what the masses who throng temples , churches and mosque derive , then as Tinley states it is an acceptable justification for our compulsion and religious zeal.

I am sorely tempted to put Triathlon as my religion at the next Census. Why should the Jedis have all the fun.