Dear Women For Tri Board,
I’ve been encouraged by people on Twitter to write you this letter, but I have to make it quick since you are meeting as I type.
First, to be clear, I am not bitter I wasn’t selected. I must admit I am disappointed to the extent that I am human and I care. I did question if this was a way to get us to work for free to bring in more business to your races … but I let that go. I have hope for the Board, your initiative, and our sport in general. I have long been a fan of Meredith and Swim, Bike, Mom.
However, in my honest opinion, the Board seems to look the same. Sure, we all come with our unique histories but no one looks different in color or physical ability. Where is the diversity of opinions if everyone seems to come from the same place?
So, here are my points as a Latina, minority, mom who works with adaptive athletes. I just say these in the hope you will read this letter and have these issues in mind as you talk about bringing more women into triathlon. I mentioned some of these in my application.
- Think of the women who cannot afford equipment. Do we want triathlon to be an elitist sport or do we want to reach ALL women regardless of their financial situation? Think of scholarships, bike shares, inner city youth programs, outreach, etc. On the outskirts of triathlon is a huge group of women who don’t even consider our sport. Maybe one of them is your next world champion, but we will never know if we don’t help her have financial access to the start line. Make sure you think about those women who might dream of competing but become discouraged by the simple cost of a bicycle.
- Think of women whose cultural surroundings prevent her from signing up. I had the hardest time convincing my family (not my husband and kids, but my very vocal extended family) that doing a triathlon was safe and a good idea. Think of a woman competing as part of a greater system that can either support or break her. Educate everyone. It’s not just juggling work, family and training. To some of us it includes the entire neighborhood.
- We aren’t all equally abled. Some are faster than others, and some just can’t compete independently as the incredible women I have worked with as part of ThumbsUp International. Instead of having them be a minority or an afterthought, be proactive and bring them into racing as you would any other group of women. I can’t begin to tell you how empowering racing side by side to a woman who the world sees as severely disabled has been.
And that’s all. You have a lot to discuss, so just please include attracting ALL types of women. Many will quickly come to you with an army of street ambassadors holding their hands. But not everyone that matters lies in the mainstream.
Much luck and have fun!