|What would Woody do?|
About 5 minutes later, I got this message:
"Who'd you call a looser bud? You've been banned from the [DELETED] board. If you can't have the respect for all disciplines...then you're not welcome in our world."It seems like I'd opened a can of worms. You see, like all the other comments that had been left, mine wasn't positive. But it was honest. I compared the graphics on their products to all the MMA skull/tribal art that by this point is completely unoriginal and overplayed. I admit I was a little surly (I wrongly assumed that "edgy" begets "edgy"), but to be honest I forget exactly what I said. Because my comment was immediately "censored". The "loser" comment had something to do with me questioning what triathlon products had to do with "loser" MMA stuff. I'm sorry I feel this way about the MMA, but I live in Huntington Beach. If you are allergic to the smell of testosterone, going to the gym can be a little difficult sometimes. But regardless, I was hating on the game, not the player.
Surliness aside, I wasn't trying to start anything. I learned a long time ago that one of the best ways to defend yourself against an attack is to step aside at the last minute so that the attacker (hopefully) misses you and hits the brick wall you were standing in front of. One way to do this is to "pop the balloon" with an answer that probably isn't expected. So I answered with:
"OK"The truth is I wouldn't want to be in "their" world. Based on what I can glean from this guys reaction to my opinion, I think you get thrown into prison if you can't run a sub 6 minute mile or face the firing squad if you fail to podium in a race. And beware if you are not a fan of MMA - you'll never be part of the ruling class.
In the end, I felt a little bad by the exchange and sent a quick note of apology. I have not heard back. I dunno, maybe showing weakness is not tolerated in "their" world.
True, I sometimes need to keep myself in check and watch what I type. But at the same time, if you are going to put yourself out there as a brand, then you better have thick skin. Not everyone is going to like everything you do. Accept that. And be cool about it. I'm not a big fan of Microsoft products, for example. And outside of slander, I'm pretty sure I could write whatever I wanted about Microsoft and never get a semi-threatening message with the word "loser" spelled wrong from Steve Ballmer.
I'm not a big fan of the gang mentality. And in my opinion, it has no place in endurance sports. By their nature, endurance sports are individual pursuits. There is at least a little non-conformist in everyone of us. There has to be - otherwise we'd never find the mental fortitude to do an Ironman, run in the Leadville 100 or participate in any of the countless other races out there. Barefoot running? It's the punk rock of sport.
The irony is that I'm sitting here railing on this guy for railing on me. Hypocritical, I know. But at the same time there is a distinct relationship created between a seller and a buyer. The buyer has a right to an opinion of the seller's goods. If you can't deal with that, don't start selling stuff.
I've seen this kind of behavior in other movements. Back in 1989, my band had to go on stage in Austin with baseball bats instead of guitars because the local skinheads had unilaterally decided that we where not welcome in town. And what's sad is that the skinheads where the only ones who turned up at the show, since they had long scared away the other kids in town.
Hopefully, endurance sports will not be as susceptible to this sort of poison, simply because there are too many people from too many walks of life participating. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons I enjoy being involved so much. I have my opinions, sure. But since I don't care who you voted for for President, I definitely don't care what kind of bike you ride or what kit you wear. If you turn up on race day ready to give it your best, you are OK in my world.
That said, we all might want to work on a sub 5:45 mile. That way we can dust one of these endurance sport fascists at our next race.