I just watched a wonderful movie… one of my favorites hot on the heels of going to a masters (over 35) track meet tonight. The movie – Field of Dreams. It made me think about my experience at the track. I watched this time. I wasn’t an official (for a change). I was there to watch, and coach a bit. But really – I watched.
It was interesting to see competitors up to 70 years old (3 weeks ago we had an 88 year old thrower!) running, jumping and throwing. Many I know personally. Most were competitors since college years which now, are distant memories in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. They don’t move like they used to. But to the astute eye, you see flashes – shadows of what they once were. There is no doubt. Bob – 68 years young threw and hurdled. Jan cruised her 1500. Mark threw like it was a national championship. James intermediate hurdled like it was a conference championship on the line. And too many individual story lines to tell. Some lived that championship competition and some never did. THIS is their championship.
If you for one minute think these athletes are any less competitive than their younger years you are sorely mistaken. They are chasing All-American masters standings and national rankings. (For you younger folks, if you think I jest check out these for national standings.) And competing just to beat that other guy or gal on the starting list.
As I watched and as I listened to the crowd (yes there were people actually at the meet watching) I thought about these athletes.
We were watching.
We were watching the past.
We were watching our fathers, maybe even grandparents relive their youth – doing something that makes them feel alive. And yes, makes them feel young again.
I’m 54 years old with a competitive mind that says I’m still 25. I was in the corporate world (Human Resources/Training & Development/Organizational Development) for years. I didn’t make that national team championship. I didn’t even make a conference championship or college All American. Always, I’ve had a hand in running, coaching, and being competitive. I’ve always thought I could go faster. I can relate and attest to the mindset of these athletes. Do not think we are merely of the past; we are also your future.
So, back to Field of Dreams…
Everyone of these athletes went on to become accountants, business owners, engineers and doctors (like in Field of Dreams). And they all came back to express their competitive athletic spirit almost like in another life reliving their youth (Like “Doc” in the movie). Perhaps to bring their lives full circle. We crave our youth. We crave our vitality. But, make no mistake about it, age is a number. Spirit is ageless.
To the masters athlete: never forget to reunite with your youth and never let it go.
To the younger athlete: you see your future when you see us compete… we are no less competitive than you. Celebrate our competitiveness. We really are no different.