Heart over Head

Warning: this post will be filled with some heart-felt sentiments that may lack rationality and factual backing. If you are the type of person who lives their life on the basis of proofs and actualities, you may find this post nauseating. I also must disclose my conflict of interest:  I am a female pro triathlete. Now, this post is not intended to persuade you to believe in or support the movement of #50WomentoKona, rather I wanted to share why I feel, in the most emotional of senses, there should be an equal allocation of spots for professional triathletes at the 70.3 and Ironman World Championships.

I have made a number of decisions in my life following my heart and not my head, because chasing dreams may sometimes mean abandoning all rational thought. I decided to become a doctor and went to medical school because I just had a feeling that it is my life’s calling and could not picture myself doing anything else. I did not weigh any pros or cons, nor did I even consider any other career. I knew since I was 13 that I wanted to be a doctor. More recently I decided to take a break from medicine to pursue a career as a professional triathlete; putting off residency also means delaying a guaranteed paycheck while my student loans quickly collect interest. There is almost nothing rational about that! It is really so much easier to go with your heart than trying to rationalize everything.

So it is from my heart of hearts that I believe there should be an equal number of female and male pros on the starting line of every World Championship race. To me, it just feels like the right thing to do. I am capable of thinking rationally and I can see the perspective of others, ergo I do feel that the argument of allocating slots proportionally is a valid one. But that does not mean I think it is right. I also recognize that Ironman is a business and thus their executives make decisions based on making money; but what is good for business is not always good for the sport. And seeing as I am not a business person, I cannot even comment if the unequal slot allocation is good for the business.

There are those who oppose this movement and speak out against its proponents. That is fine; everyone is entitled to their own opinions. What I feel is unjust are those who pass judgment or respect me less because of something I believe in. Not ok. I have been accused of wanting to be a part of a divisive issue, which is not the case. I am simply supporting something I believe in. I cannot back it up with numbers or facts or logical reasoning, I just feel that it is how things should be.

And not just in triathlon, but in all facets of society. From my heart I believe equality for women benefits all. There is no reason that in 2015 women should have fewer athletic, education, or professional opportunities that men; I also do not feel that women should be making less than men either. How can one argue that women contribute less or have less value than men? I consider there to be a very simple solution to this debate, forget about proportional slot allocation and start placing equal value on men and women. #50WomentoKona 

 There are some great posts about this issue and I encourage you to read the blog series by professional triathlete and PhD  Sara Gross . Triathlete and attorney Kelly Burns Gallagher has also covered a number of topics and arguments surrounding this issue on her  blog .   Appendix: If you are not familiar with this issue here is what you need to know in brief. There are currently 35 slots for professional women and 50 slots for professional men at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii; the pinnacle race of triathlon.  There are also more slots for men at the 70.3 half Ironman World Championships. Ironman, the licensed brand of World Triathlon Corporation, allocates slots on the basis of proportion; there are more professional men in triathlon than professional women. Athletes earn a slot by accumulating a certain number of points in the   Kona Points Raking system    ; the points are earned by racing, essentially the higher place the finish in a race the more points an athlete earns. Those who accumulate enough points can race in the World Championships. 50 pro men line up to the 35 pro women, prize money however is equally distributed. Over the last year there has been a push, initially from pro women, for Ironman to have an equal number of male and female pros on the starting line at the World Championship races. The CEO of Ironman, Andrew Messick, has rejected this idea and #50WomentoKona has now grown into a very active movement on the internet and social media. Read   this   for a brief overview. 

There are some great posts about this issue and I encourage you to read the blog series by professional triathlete and PhD Sara Gross. Triathlete and attorney Kelly Burns Gallagher has also covered a number of topics and arguments surrounding this issue on her blog.

Appendix: If you are not familiar with this issue here is what you need to know in brief. There are currently 35 slots for professional women and 50 slots for professional men at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii; the pinnacle race of triathlon.  There are also more slots for men at the 70.3 half Ironman World Championships. Ironman, the licensed brand of World Triathlon Corporation, allocates slots on the basis of proportion; there are more professional men in triathlon than professional women. Athletes earn a slot by accumulating a certain number of points in the Kona Points Raking system  ; the points are earned by racing, essentially the higher place the finish in a race the more points an athlete earns. Those who accumulate enough points can race in the World Championships. 50 pro men line up to the 35 pro women, prize money however is equally distributed. Over the last year there has been a push, initially from pro women, for Ironman to have an equal number of male and female pros on the starting line at the World Championship races. The CEO of Ironman, Andrew Messick, has rejected this idea and #50WomentoKona has now grown into a very active movement on the internet and social media. Read this for a brief overview.