Ever notice that many races these days are woefully represented in the 20-25 age division?
How about how the football or soccer teams receive the adoring adulation of the high school student body and the fans?
And, how many people even know how a cross country meet is scored?
One final question.
Who needs to change these situations?
The answer is easy.
We need to pay it forward, promote our sport, and support the young athletes and coaches who participate in the sport of long distance running at the junior high and high school level.
Chances are, if they have a positive experience with our sport at that level, they will continue to run throughout their lifetime.
There are several ways we, veteran runners, can help.
First, gather you and your running partners and attend a high school cross country meet. Other than parents, support for the hard-working runners is practically non-existent. Runners know other runners. The young men and women will be honored if they notice a group of local runners along the course at a home meet.
And be sure to encourage EVERY runner. The beauty of a cross country team is that, where scoring is concerned, the fifth runner is as important as the first runner.
Volunteer, either as a coach or as a course monitor. I'll bet there are few of us who haven't run a race where well-intentioned volunteers pointed runners in the wrong direction or failed to provide any direction at all to the participants. And coaches can always use some help, especially if the roster is large.
Cross country teams are rarely on top of the equipment list, so if you can organize or participate in a fund raising event for the team, that would be beneficial.
Finally, you are role models to these youngsters. You may be in your 30s or well beyond, so when the kids see "That old guy" out there on the road, in all kinds of weather, they become inspired.
So, instead of 'Friday Night Lights,' let's celebrate the season of Wednesday afternoon meets and Saturday afternoon invitationals in a sport where there are no time outs, and where the clock is unforgiving,
It's the season of the boys and girls of September, October, and November.
Let's show them our appreciation.