Sports and Education

Television will display the grandeur of a professional athlete.  Those individuals are famous and rich.  “In 2016, the average annual income for a US household was $57,617 while the average income of a professional athlete in the major leagues was between $2.1-$6.5 million.” (1) Outside the major sports the annual for professional athletes is lower. “As of Feb 22, 2020, the average annual pay for a Professional Athlete in the United States is $46,473 a year.” (2) If you’re an athlete wanting to earn a living wage in archery the odds are low for your success even if you are competing at a high level. The income range for professional archers is: $10,000 – $75,000, for Olympic archers: $36,000 – $97,000. (3)

There is a sales representative I know.  He’s good at his job.  Before he took the sales position his job was as an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots.  The sales position was a nice transition from football.  I know another guy that pitched for a winning team in the MLB World Series.  He too is a salesman, today.  In both cases, their former celebrity has been as asset in their current roles. Plus, both are good with people and smart. There’s a former Olympian who won 5 Gold Medals who today is a physician.  The point is that money in sports can be good so long as it is good. No one lasts forever in athletics.

Last week, at the USA Indoor National Championship I shot on the same bale as college students for both days.  A number of those athletes have college scholarships as archers.  Talking with two I learned one is becoming a mechanical engineer the other a nurse practitioner. The average income for a mechanical engineer is $86,000 per years. (4) The average income for a nurse practitioner is $107,460. (5) For someone that goes the medical route and becomes a Chief Medical Officer the annual mean income is $402, 483. (6) Of course, that prize is similar to making the big leagues in sports. In all three cases the annual income is greater than the recently published average earning for professional athletes – $46,473 per year. (2)

The student archers at the indoor championships are smart.  Staying on their paths will lead them to a comfortable rewarding life so long as they don’t over extend that potential credit. (Pay as you go – you’ll get there.)

Steve Young, QB, JD

Steve Young, the ex-49er quarterback took his team to a 13-3 record, won the NFL MVP and graduated from law school in 1994. (7) He’s never practiced law, but he used that education to propel him in other areas after football.  Just because he was a super athlete he didn’t disregard a backup plan.  He was attending law school while playing professional football.

The point is that while those athletes on television seem to be living a magical life the wealth that comes with it can vanish in an instant. The odds of landing one of those mega-rich positions are extremely low.  Never disregard the earning potential of education.

And, don’t think a college degree is the only financially rewarding path.  An air conditioning technical, with 3 classes from a technical school on average earns $43,640 annually.  (8) The upper 10% of these technicians earns over $68,000. (8) That is an excellent return on investment (the investment being the cost for the classes.) Certainly a wiser investment than attending college and earning a degree in Greek Mythology or thinking you’ll become an athlete earning millions shooting arrows into paper.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD
Football and medicine – a winning combination

Enjoy your sport.  When you are doing it compartmentalize your brain and bring all your focus on that sport.  When you’re done, say you put down your bow, focus on the next skill.  That next focus might be on classes or being the best at your day job. You could end up using both – being excellent as an athlete and having educational training that will provide a decent living.  Like Kanas City Chief’s offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who is a physician. (9).

Wilde was a UPS worker and archer for 16 years.

Even Reo Wilde held a day job outside of archery before using his archery success to allow him full time employment in archery. (10)

 

References:

 

Just Because I Know Doesn’t Mean I’ll Get it Right

Weeks ago my arrows began landing all over the target.  During the State 18-meter indoor championship I shot my lowest score ‘ever’ when scoring the inner 10 ring.  In the USA Archery Indoor National Championship I earned my lowest score ever at that level of competition.

It all began at the State 25-meter championship.  Throughout the tournament my groups expanded.  From there it has been all downhill.  Sort of reminds me of the recent drop in a coronavirus stock market retreat.  Like the money that is sliding away from my retirement reserves – easy come easy go.

Unlike financial matters where all my eggs aren’t in one basket, in an archery tournament there aren’t any cushions.  With a missed shot in archery there’s no coming back – those points are gone forever.

In an archery tournament, for example a 3-spot with a maximum score of 600 for a day, everyone starts out with 600 points.  Each miss and points are lost.  If an investor has 600 bucks in the stock market and it drops 3% that 600 bucks becomes 582 bucks.  That investor might be able to wait a while and that 3% drop could become a 5% gain or up to 611 bucks.  No such luck in archery.

Or you could consider everyone begins an archery tournament with zero points (which is how it is done) and the better capitalists on the line end up with more points.  Those points are earned with a cool head and wise shot placement investments.   In any of the scenarios my maximal yields have been hurting.

On the second day of the USA Indoor Nationals my score plummeted into the abyss and a crappy performance reigned supreme.  Then, I felt a little something and thought “Oh?”  It wasn’t quite  clear what I felt hence the “Oh?’.  Not pain, good Lord at 65 I don’t want an old geezer orthopedic collapse.  The “Oh” was a general familiarization of malformed form.  I couldn’t see it or identify the problem.  But it was there.

I’d like to report that there was divine intervention and from the ‘Oh’ moment forward I landed all tens.  Alas, that is a report I can’t honestly deliver.

The other day at practice “Big John” one of the coaches at Ace declared as I dropped another shot that it was, “A lazy old man shot.”  Then Steve, another coach at ACE, a day or so later, pointed out the same error.  Being a slow learner it has taken weeks to discover what that ‘Oh’ meant.  Big John and Steve both recognized the error immediately. Now I know.  I knew before.  I did it anyway. Heck, if I’d been coaching me and not being me shooting I’d have seen it as well. What was happening in my head was not translating to my body.

I didn’t make the error as often while practicing today at Ace in Social Circle. Today the arrows landed mostly in the center of the target.  I made a effort to listen and do what both coaches had offered. The practice ended up producing my 4th highest X count on a 5-spot.  It felt good.  Now, I just need to remember to do what the coaches have coached.  Much easier said than done.

The 2020 USA Archery Indoor National Championship

In Suwanee, Georgia the range for the 2020 USA Archery National Championship was packed.  Every line was filled.  There were so many archers an additional Friday line was added to help accommodate the athletes.

I’d signed up early to help ascertain I ended up with 1:00 PM times over Saturday and Sunday.  Suwanee isn’t too far from Good Hope.  Suwanee is on the cusps of Atlanta which means travel to the event can be tricky. One mishap by a driver hoping to get into ATL can screw up precision travel times. I got the 1:00 PM times. Picking 1:00 PM gives me a travel buffer.

The traffic was innocent over both days.  Oh, there was a lot of it despite being the weekend but everyone was on good behavior.

During the Saturday shoot I was on the same bale as three women from a college team. Their manners were excellent.  These women, however, were not about to slip off a very competition edge and there was minimal talking.  Being stuck on an archery range in silence for four hours is punishment as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, friends were in abundance on adjacent bales so company wasn’t lacking.

The Sunday bale was a whole lot chattier.  One of the archers was a woman from the same college.  In this case we knew one another and she’s fast to smile and laugh.  Prior to the start we discussed when either of us hits three 10s on the same end the archer achieving the 30 points would do a celebratory dance similar to those performed by NFL players following a touch down.  She struck first.  Before she danced, and yes she danced, she wanted me to loudly call her score.

I complied yelling out her 10 – 10 – 10 score.  She did a jig.  We thought it was fun as did most of the folks nearby.  A few seemed dissatisfied with the performance.  When she hit 10 – 10 – 10 again I yelled again and she danced again. This happened a lot. (She only dropped about 9 point) Day two went by faster than day one.

The Sunday bale also had representation from Georgia Tech making me the only non-colligate archer on my bales over the weekend.  When Tech showed up I was holding the clip to manually total the scores.  I looked at the Tech logo and handed over the clip board saying, “You’re an engineering student, you can do the math.”  He seemed puzzled asking, “I am an engineering student how did you know?” I pointed out it was a guess based on his Georgia Tech kit. He got 100% on his addition all done without touching his cell phone calculator for help.

Looking around over the two days noticed the athletes seemed more youthful than the past few years.  I over heard one ex-collegiate archer lecturing to a group from Emmanuel College, “This is great now.  But when you get out of school and have to get a job things will change.”  He was referring to the time he’d had to practice in college prior to getting a job. The current students will, of course, cross that bridge when they get there.

The number one element of enjoyment during the Suwanee version of the Nationals, of course, was mingling with so many of the folks I don’t get to see outside of tournaments.  Our conversations became infected with smiles and laughter.  Shooting in competition is fun, practice is more fun, and hanging out with good people is the most fun.

Getting Ready for Nothing Much in the Rain

It has been raining a lot here in north Georgia.  When it rains I’ll typically drive to Social Circle and practice on the indoor range at Ace Hardware.  If there’s no rain and the temperature is above freezing I’ll stay home and shoot on my range.

Two days ago there was a nice break, several hours, from the rain.  This saved me a drive into Social Circle. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy practicing at the Ace in Social Circle.  I enjoy visiting the folks that work at the archery pro shop at Ace. I also enjoy simply walking out back to practice.

Practice at home often includes spectators.  Two days ago they were the girls from next door.  It is fun when they come over to watch.

The practice is prep for the USA Archery National Indoor Championships.  Today I read the local (regional) awards are not being presented after the events.  Rather, everyone must wait for the finish of all sections, the results submitted to USA Archery , results verified, and USA Archery will mail awards.

Personally, I like getting a cheap medal for finishing in the top 3.  That trinket is the period on a sentence.  Waiting months to find final results is less enjoyable.  If I’d known they were going to switch this up (learned about it the day before the event) I’d have skipped the indoor nationals and would have headed to Alabama to shoot the ASA tournament being held there.

Here’s the update regarding awards:

Awards
National awards will be mailed from the USA Archery national office after final results from all locations are verified and combined. No location medals will be awarded.”

The thought of spending two days competing after a whole lot of preparation knowing the results will be months away isn’t inspirational.

To add insult to injury the update includes information regarding parking.  For the first time athletes, in my experience, who have paid to compete must pay a fee to park or take a hike.

From today’s event information (one day before the event):

Parking….
SSA has paid and unpaid options for parking. There is a $5 fee to park on site in the paved lot. There is additional free parking in the gravel lot across the street at the church. SSA also has additional free parking across McGinnis Ferry Rd. There is a trail from that lot to SSA. Do not try to cross McGinnis Ferry Rd directly. The City of Suwanee Police will ticket for jay walking! Please use the trail to cross safely!”

Honestly, I cannot recall every event where I’ve competed.  I can recall the last 140 or so events.  Those events covered triathlons, runs, cycling and archery.  They ranged from local to international.  This USA Archery event is the only one where an athlete, having paid to compete, now must pay $5.00 to park near the venue.  ($10.00 over the two days on top of the $80.00 entry fee)

For comparison, I parked downtown Athens a few nights ago.  I was parked in a parking garage.  I was there for several hours.  I’d expected to pay.  It cost me $2.00. To park and shoot at the upcoming archery tournament the cost, excluding food, gas, lodging (for some) is now $90.00.  Parking is 11.1% of that fee! Of course off site parking is free.  Families with kids shooting that might find the extra money harsh will end up the most disadvantaged.

Sure there may be other instances where athletes might need to pay to park once they arrive at the competition.  I’m saying have not experienced the requirement to pay a parking fee at over 140 events beginning in 2006 where I was a competitor.

You might not consider this a big deal.  I do, it is wrong.  The athletes are what fuel the sport.  The fees we already pay are enough.  Last year, there was no parking fee at the same venue.  This year someone decided to stick it to athletes to gain a few extra dollars.  Oh, there is free parking available – nearby.  For free parking athletes and their families are going to need to walk a way with all their gear.  I’m not opposed to a hike.  Heck, I ran for nearly an hour this morning.  It is the principle.

The trails, during this morning’s run, had plenty of spots where rain water hadn’t yet drained.

If there is a specific need for revenue ask for help.  Athletes will frequently do things outside of training or competing to support their sport.  But, grabbing a bit of last minute cash by adding a new parking fee is low.

I’m reminded of an archer that didn’t compete.  I watched him a lot and never once did he miss the X on a vertical 3-spot.  I asked if he competed.  He said, “Only local events.”  He added, “I’m not going to travel and pay to compete at a bigger ones – they’re a rip off.”

Sometimes, it is just more fun to practice in front of the girls.

Three of the girls for next door who’d dropped by to watch practice

 

Finding a workable combination

During the last competitive event I shot the lowest recorded score against a vertical 3-spot, inner 10s, in my life.  The score was 28 points below the six weeks average going into the tournament.  Something was clearly amok.

Naturally, I blamed the bow, an Elite Victory X from 2018.  The bow received the blame because the arrows were landing in similar disarray to the patterns revealed when the bearing in the cams failed.  Months ago, that bow, the 37, was shipped back to Elite for analysis.  They uncovered that the bearing in the cams had failed.  Elite replaced the bearing, returned the bow and it shot fine, again. At least for awhile.

At the 2020 Georgia State Indoor National Championship I suspected that those replaced bearing had again, following around 10,000 shots, bit the dust.  Looking at the cams I could see tiny specks of silver that made me more suspicious. I vowed to never shoot that bow again.

To replace the Victory 37X I tried a 2014 Elite 35.  It didn’t shot a whole lot better.  The fellows at Ace Hardware’s Bow Pro shop took a look at the 35 and went to work straighten it out.  The problem is that with the Elite 35, while I gained 10 points over the Georgia State flop, I was still 18 points below my prior average for 18-meters.

I tried an even older, purchased in 2013 when I started archery, Mathews Conquest Apex 7.  The bow shoots great and is extremely smooth.  The feel, however, is dramatically different from the two Elites and my scores were no better.

Today, shooting all three things remain a mess.  The Elite 35 landed me an average of just 9 points per arrow.  (That is until I noticed a screw missing on the limb pocked. Amazingly, I found it on the ground.) The Mathews was 8.5 points per arrow and the Victory 9.5 points per arrow.

To achieve the 9.5 points per arrow I ended up flinging arrows too stiff for the poundage I shoot.  Using a bare shaft the arrow, an Easton 2318 that has been cut 3 inches and has a 180 grain tip, the shaft shoots to the right.  A bare shaft 2314, uncut, with 100 grain tip shot even further to the right – which is not what I’d expected.

Two days out from the USA Indoor Nationals I am considering just tossing my arrows toward the target.

The Weather

It is raining.  I’ll need to wait to practice archery.  The rain, not heavy did not delay running.  It will delay archery.

Yes, we shoot in the rain during competition.  I’ve practiced in the rain in hopes the effort would provide a little extra preparation for the day I end up competing in the rain.  It has happened. The rain practice didn’t really help.

The weather report is on television.  The local weather reporter just stated, “It is raining so expect the roads to be wet.” His declaration caught me attention. Raining and roads are wet – who knew?

The weather guy is very excited because conditions are right for Georgians to be on the look out for a tornado.  Currently, there is no wind nearby and birds are flying around my window.  However, the conditions are right for the potential of a tornado over 100 miles away from me.

Then the guy on TV, absolutely shaking with potential tornado excitement, let’s all viewers in on a life saving app.  The local news weather app is available for free.

This app will let users know their current weather conditions and let them know what to do. For example, when it is raining outside your house the app suggests to you that rain is wet and an umbrella or raincoat will help you stay dry.  The weather app will let someone know that it is cold outside and wearing a sweater will help keep one warm.  (This is the South, a sweater is usually plenty.)  This weather app continues to alert smart phone aficionados when the temperature rises and light clothing is the apparel for the day.

The local weather app is as useful as the fellow on the television now predicting more winds since they’ve seen wind speed up to 55 mph in one area near Alabama.  He’s added the specific area of 55 mph winds is breaking up but everyone viewing still needs to be on high alert.  Despite the warning he did ask for viewers to send him any pictures of damage, like downed limbs, so that he might better tell the story. Getting pictures means going outside.  He forgot to suggest a raincoat. He probably thought anyone brave enough to step outside in rain already has the local weather app.

The smart phone weather app, I highly recommend especially for anyone that has just arrived here.  By here I do mean Earth.

Well, That Sucked

It was really bad. Two years ago, in Hertford, North Carolina, in 10° F, with snow on the ground, shooting while standing in a shed I shot better by 2 points than I did in the 2020 Georgia 18-meter State Championship.  In 2016, when I first scored using the inner 10 ring as 10 and the remainder of the yellow as 9 points I shot one point better than this past weekend.  In fact, I was 28 points below my average this past weekend.

A buddy of mine, who is a Level 4 USA Archery Coach, suggested I wasn’t bringing the elbow on my release arm around.  He didn’t know for certain as he was competing and shooting his bow on the same line at the same time as I. He knows that sometimes I fail in that regard – I’ll occasionally not have everything lined up.  I’ll land a fat nine to the right of the X when I make that mistake.  Fat nines were not my problem.  Those eights, sevens and even a six, those were the problems.

I don’t need to reach back too far to recall a five I’d landed.  I did that a few days ago.  It was during a team competition where my teammate and I rallied to finish shooting for the win.  I shot two tens and a five.  It was awful and I tossed it up to pressure – even though I didn’t notice all that much pressure.  Truth is at that point I was unaware we were shooting for the win.

Over the next two days, Friday and Saturday, I shot a few eights and let it go figuring those eights are rare even if they and that five from earlier where clustered.  There did seem to be a feel that those wild shots were coming at me with a bit more frequency.

On Sunday, the Georgia State Indoor 18-meter championship my arrows were everywhere. There were absolutely no groups on any target to suggest tweaking my sight.   I’d have a few decent arrows, those that landed pretty much where I’d expected they’d land, then arrows would be sailing out like discount birdshot.

It was another full house for archery in Georgia

Throughout it all I kept thinking that my shooting would recover and I’d land some tens.  That never really happened.  The final score was the lowest I’ve ever shot aiming at a vertical 3 spot scoring inner tens during competition or practice.

I’m the short fellow

My friend who coaches top archers added to his earlier suggestion, “I think you just wanted this too much and were holding your shots too long.”  Maybe.

I am still working though what happened that lead me to such a poor performance.  Regardless of the potential finding I admit that this past weekend sucked when it comes to archery. For any of you that might ask, “But, you had fun – right?” For the record – No, it was not fun.

(I did enjoy seeing lots of good people.  That, on the other hand, was fun.)