As a budding reporter, I firmly believe in the power of words. And as a seasoned sports reporter, I consider it my duty to stay up-to-date with the jargon of today’s hottest jocks and jockettes (e.g. “jockette”). I have discovered, however, that as a bonafide NARP, somehow, the lingo of the athletes doesn’t seem to roll off my tongue quite as naturally as it should. This issue was made crushingly apparent to me when I was recently on a chairlift. Like many, I often get a good laugh in witnessing the misfortunes of others, something I consider a longtime hobby, one that is perfectly suited for a chairlift ride. After watching a “jerry” fall on the slope below us, I pounced at the opportunity to yell, “Yard sale!” a term I was left to assume I had misused when my high five was denied.
And while this happens quite often, the pain of this mistake stung more than usual. After soothing my pain and the isolation of NARPhood, one day, I finally realized why this instance was markedly more shameful than one having to do with another sport. My realization came when I was talking to a friend and fellow cc student, senior Madeleine Garcia.
“I hate skiing,” she told me abruptly. To say the least, this comment shocked me. But why? This is a statement I have made about nearly every other sport, but somehow, when regarding the sport of skiing, the word ‘hate’ seemed like a form of sacrilege.
“All the things that people love about skiing are the things I hate,” she continued. “Like going fast and being a little reckless. Not to mention how much of a production it is. You have to buy all this stuff and then wake up early and drive for hours and then put on all the stuff, it’s freezing and your feet and hands go numb, and then you have to eat crappy lodge food or deal with bringing food and finding lockers and stuff, and then you keep having to take off and put on all the things, then you have to sit in traffic on the way home and it just all around not great. The costs far out weigh the benefits for me.”
Wow. I mean, when she put it that way, it did sound more like a chore (torture?) than a voluntary activity. But why was I shocked to hear her unabashed disdain? Why does our school treat skiing as the be all end all of sports? Why have we created a culture of exclusion and competition out of an individual sport? And can we ever change the implications of its exorbitant price? This week, I did what no NARP has done before. This week, I became a GNARp.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate skiing. I actually like it. And for me, that’s saying a LOT. But after Madeleine shattered the cc ski glass for me, I started to see some major flaws in the ski culture of our school. In my experience, although the physical aspect of the sport remains relatively independent, the competition comes in the conversation. Suddenly it’s a battle of words and one-ups: Who has skied more days? Who has skied the most mountains? Who has gotten the most vertical feet? Who has skied the best powder? Who found the untouched snow? Who raced in high school? Who’s skied in Europe? Who skipped lunch because they were having the best day of their life and they didn’t want to stop? Who met Bode Miller once and he was actually kind of a dick? The list goes on and on and I can’t help but think we are asking the wrong questions.
As a student athlete and education major, junior Chelo Barton asks why the school can’t do more to make the what is seemingly our favorite sport more inclusive and affordable.
“When I came to college I was shocked at how non-diverse the groups I was spending time with were compared to my time in high school,” she told me. “But I realized it was because of the activities I was doing. As students, we should be encouraging our school to create more affordable ways for all students to participate in these activities that only a very privileged group can afford right now.”
Barton is working on ways to implement a flex plan which would allow long time skiers to teach first time skiers for free to encourage inclusion for all students who wish to spend time skiing. For more information on expanding and diversifying our school’s outdoor community, RSVP to the Butler Center’s The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors on February first.
So if you’re a hardcore skier who has missed a powder day or someone who has never skied a day in your life, chances are, our ski culture has made you feel left out before. And even though change toward a more accepting ski community will take time, just know, whether you’re reading from the bumps or from the bleachers, I’ll be your friend, even on a powder day.