Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Collegiate Triathlon Begins

This quarter marks the beginning of the collegiate triathlon season. I will be covering sports and outdoor adventures from the collegiate angle.

Get ready for some (mostly) non-varsity action, where athletes don't get scholarships to train like pros, but they do it anyway. Sort of.

Just like age-groupers.

Coming up: Injuries that survived the off-season despite great effort to heal, and what to do about them. The self-pity party can only last so long. Look! It's over!


  1. Are we going to hear any commentary about the many pros who have won collegiate triathlon nationals (while they were pros)? Like John Dahlz, Steve Sexton, Eric Bean...How fair is that one? Or perhaps how there is an age limit?

  2. But of course! Collegiate tri has come a long way in a short time, but it's got a long way to go before its fair.

  3. Interesting posts...One issue is that "pro" in triathlon means elite, not pro in the same sense that the NCAA defines it. In other words, "pro" triathletes don't necessarily get paid or have major endorsement deals, in fact most of us have neither, we just want to race against the highest quality competition. Therefore pros don't have the advantage that the non-pros fear they do. Secondly, the Athlete's Advisory Council, which makes recommendations to the USAT Board on pro/elite issues, supported allowing pro/elites to race at collegiate nationals, so that the championship would go to the fastest collegiate triathlete, not the fastest except for the ones fast enough to turn "pro."

    If the concept of pay (or unequal and therefore unfair differences in one athlete's level of support vs. another) is an issue, then we should exclude any former varsity/scholarship athletes from racing in collegiate triathlon, as the value of a scholarship is far more than 90% of "pros" earn in a year. We can all agree that excluding former varsity athletes from collegiate triathlon would be ridiculous and directly compromise one aspect of collegiate triathlon: recruiting college students into the multisport lifestyle. Or, should we exclude any programs where the school covers part of their Triathlon Team's expenses since this would be unfair for the collegiate clubs that don't have financial support from their institution? Of course not. Or, what about collegiate triathletes with affluent parents? Many of whom receive far more support from their families than others ever have as a "pro." Our goal with collegiate triathlon should be to lower the barriers to entry, but excluding students from racing collegiately because they are too good or too old dilutes the sport rather than promotes it.

    Collegiate cycling is a great model for triathlon, until the latter is included as an NCAA sport (which will happen on the women's side long before the men's, and that is another blog unto itself). In cycling, pros race and there's no age limit. And, no one complains about it because when there's a pro on your team or in your race, you learn a lot about cycling and that's good for the sport. Finally, the age issue should be moot now with the open/grad/undergrad divisions.