Monday, August 6, 2012

Olympic-Sized Passion

It wouldn't be the first time I've been sitting in front of a TV and said: "They should do this for books." Watching the Olympics, I find myself intrigued by the athlete's rise to the top. There are some great stories out there.

One common thread that many of us can related to is passion. Olympians develop a passion for a sport, and then chase after it with reckless abandon. I can't help but feel I bit jealous.

I know, I know. I could totally pursue writing in the same manner. Or could I? Would there be any social support for someone who drops out of school to go train for years... in writing? Who goes on sabbatical to focus solely on writing? Who attempts to raise a whole bunch of money to pay for writing?

The side of the Olympics that I think is given short shrift is the money side. How much money do you suppose goes into each Olympian? Just from my own experiences as an amateur athlete, I can make a guess. And it isn't a small number.

I've always had a bit of a problem with the whole "starving artist" image. I do not believe that one need starve in order to pursue a passion. The Olympians certainly don't starve. They do, however, rely on a whole bunch of help from people that believe in them.

In older times, there was a patronage system for supporting the arts. Artists were developed on a patron's dime, and then flaunted. There were a whole bunch of flaws so the system as well, but when I hear some of these Olympic stories, I think that they basically had sport patrons. A lot of successful authors also had this kind of support along the way. It helps to be able to shut out the distractions of everyday life, and really focus on honing a set of skills.

I guess the point is this: Passion is expensive. Especially an Olympic-sized passion. And the network needed to support such a passion only serves to make the achievement more amazing in my eyes.

So cheers to all the patrons out there. You may go by a different name -- Coach. Trainer. Parent. Mentor. Friend -- but you help turn passion into reality, and that's pretty cool.


Nadja Notariani said...

I love watching competitive sports... and the Olympics always get my hair up! As for cost...I have no Olympic bound children, but I can speak for may 'o parents whose wallets take a huge hit each month in training costs.
Here's a recounting of some typical costs we've encountered.
*$500 for six month stint at MMA gym (if you pay the full six months at once) appx. 20 min. from home
* $90 monthly for Crossfit training - appx 10 minutes from home
$15 per session (you can go from once to four times per week - and there are monthly rates) at full time wrestling club. - appx 2 1/2 hours from home.
Add in gasoline and phew! It can get expensive.

There are cheaper sports than what my son had chosen, but there are more expensive ones also. My nephew plays hockey and I know that sport is quite expensive to fund. Figure skating is another wallet buster! It's been a number of years since we dealt with football...and I'm sure that equipment for that sport is no joke to supply.

Matt said...

Yeah. Fundraising is a big deal for us. Boosters are key. No way would we be able to afford decent equipment without help.

Sonia G Medeiros said...

I could get behind the idea of sponsors for my writing. :D I hear what you're saying about patronage though.

Matt said...

Yeah. And how many more (quality) writers would we have if there were actually a viable, self-sustaining path to follow toward mastery of the craft? I think a big turn-off to writing as a career for anyone (and likely for most creation arts) is that you almost have to be willing to weather 5+ years of no income or negative income before you can "make it."

In a so-recently post-recession world (some might even argue about the "post"), this really limits where we get our creative minds from.

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