Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chin up...

The catch 22 in triathlon... if you don't race, you can't move up. if you don't move up then you can't go to the big races where the money is better. but in order to race you have to have money to travel. then when you do travel, most of the time the prize purses are so small you can't even break even on a trip. so you move up, but can't afford to travel again.

It is hard being in a sport where there is no money. As a result, it favors trust fund babies and people who are blessed with "family money". It seems that no matter how hard you work, you just can't get ahead. I am so tired of my bank account being at zero. It is so tough to know that you work day in and day out to be broke.

As I thought about the sponsorship money that I have coming in this year, that I am so grateful for, I realized that it has already been spent. It is not even February yet and all of the money I currently have coming in for 2008 has already been allocated. 75% of it will go to my coach and the other %25 was spent when I went to Chile and Argentina to try to move myself back up the rankings so I can race in the early World Cups this year. Funny, I moved up, but now I have no idea how I will finance the rest of my travels this year.

I have been so lucky since moving to L.A. I have the greatest homestay and a network of people who genuinely care about me. Though it has helped eased the cost of living, there are still bills to pay. I worked a lot this fall to try to get ahead, but still ended at zero. While I was away for the holidays and my first two races, I lost my job working at the health club. I was gone for too long and the club got really busy after the new year. They knew I would be away, but they hired someone to take my shifts, so now, I am back to square one. No source of income. But what was I supposed to do? Not go race, not go do my job, so I could come back and work at the health club??

It would be one thing if this were only a problem for me, but my brother, Jarrod, a 2008 Olympic Team member, who actually does make some money in the sport, feels the same way I do. What does that say about the sport then? An Olympian, can barely live off of the sponsorships and funding that he recieves. Our parents support us, with cheers and words of encouragement, but when we started into the sport they told us we would have to do it alone financially. I am glad for that, because it makes you want to succeed that much more, but it certainly does not make it easy.

I don't know how to fix the problem. I'm determined not to let money get in the way of my dreams, but I'm running out of ideas. I feel like there must be a company out there, or someone with a lot of money who just wants to support the sport... but no matter how hard I look, or how creative I get... I have come across nothing. Nothing but companies that want me to wear their gear for free, regardless of the fact that if I do that for them, I won't have the ability to train or race at all.

That's my rant for the week. I know it isn't supposed to be easy, and I don't wish it to be, but it would be nice to have enough financial support to know that I can afford to train and race and really give my goal of gold in London a shot.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jenna, yes it can be tough, but count yourself lucky that you were born into a family and a country where you have the opportunity to go out and live your dreams. Sadly many of the people in today's world do not know that luxury. I hope you wake up tomorrow and realise you are in fact very lucky!!!

Jenna Shoemaker said...

I agree with you. Thank you for your comment. Having the opportunity to follow my dreams is a gift in itself and I am grateful for that every day. I hope that in this day and age that everyone has the opportunity to try to do what they love. It is hard, however, to see other athletes be paid exorbitant amounts of money to do their sport when ours is no less demanding or less important.