Big Fish, Big Game

Face it we all have an ego. Heck, I have a webpage – how egotistical is that?

Athletes are often portrayed has being extremely egocentric.  Being athletic or being a recognized athlete doesn’t mean that such an individual necessarily has a big head.  But, you’ve meet them, those big headed folks (athletic or not) that never hesitate to let everyone know just how awesome they are at whatever endeavor they feel they are the best. I’ve even met people willing to inculcate their proficiency on an activity they only just encountered.

Too often an excessive ego doesn’t match the skills.  My first memorable encounter with a person that thought he was a gift to all of us (in the case it was a he) was in cycling.  The fellow was a decent recreational rider and loved the sport. He’d show up at our training rides – in the days when I raced bicycles.  The rides were open to anyone that could hang on.

The guys on our team were fast.  There was a core group of six riders. All six of those riders picked up multiple State Championships, raced multiple National Championships (one winner), raced in Europe (two riders), represented the USA at World Championships (two riders, 3 Championships), and one made the Olympic Team.  I’m not exaggerating when I point out this was a fast group.

ITU World Championship, Duathlon (Yep, a vanity photo)

During a training ride, two to six of this core group would ride together.  A training ride might start with 15 to 20 riders.  Most would be dropped before 20 miles.  The rides ranged in distance from 20 miles to 100 miles. There was this one guy, Mr. Bike Ego, who considered he was our gift to be adored.

Mr. Bike Ego would get dropped nearly 100% of the time before we’d ridden ten miles.  He’d circle back or cut he course and hook back up with the group.  This was a common practice since we trained on a loop and he was not alone in being dropped. He’d cut the course then get dropped again and repeat his shortened relaxed pace ride. As I wrote many people did this until they could ride stronger and faster and could hang in for the entire ride.  Most worked hard at staying with the faster group.  Mr. Bike Ego stood apart from those who worked.  Yet, he remained steadfast in his pronounced ability.

Occasionally, after our group of six had beaten each other half to death Mr. Bike Ego would hook back up with the remains of the day a kilometer or so before the sprint to the finish.  No one in the group paid him attention beyond keeping clear of his bike.  The groups’ goal was to outsprint the others in the group.

Mr. Bike Ego would be left alone and hopefully he’d stay out of our way.  In a full sprint no one wanted his squirrely bike handling skills anywhere around.  He’d jump, as if he was going for the win, and typically we’d let him go for safety’s sake. If we started sprinting too soon we’d have to pass him while he bounced side to side down the road.

As a result, Mr. Bike Ego, who’d casually pedaled his bike for less than 10 miles might cross the finish line ahead of us, those that had ridden 60 or more miles.  When that first happened, Mr. Bike Ego laughed and cried and bragged at how he’d beaten us.  We let if go, for a while.

Eventually we pointed out the discrepancy of his self-proclaimed victory.  Aside from that one comment we offered it was ride and let ride. Our mention of his pseudo-win never took hold with him.  To this day he believes he should have been on some Tour de France Team as a cyclist despite the fact he never won a bike race.

In archery there are some folks with pronounced egos.  For the most part these people are few and far between.  Archery has no room for fools.  You either hit the mark or not – everyone knows.  This is particularly true in 3D where an archer can’t hide on the line.

Shooting on a line with a hundred or more archers you are essentially invisible like a zebra in a herd. You are hard to pick out unless a coach or family member is closely watching.  Even diehard observers of archery events where thousands of arrows fly become glassy eyed and numb following a few ends.

In 3D you are always alone at the stake.  Someone is watching and no one cares how you perform. That is unless they are secretly praying for you to screw-up in order that the watcher gains points off of your error.  In such a way, the individual that prayed for your mistake, if their prayer is answered, might take home a $3.00 medal to display over the fireplace where it hangs from the antlers of that trophy four point buck bagged a few years ago with a rifle or Ford F-150.

You may have won more National or World Championship titles than folks can easily remember and out of the blue you can blow a shot.  It happens.  Archery can be cruel.  So, it is kind of hard to be Mr. Archery Ego with that flopped shot waiting in your quiver. The second you puff up that screwed up shot is begging to be released. Believe me though; Mr. Archery Ego is out there.

Mr. Archery Ego is likely not shooting at National Championships or World Championships. He’s probably a local fellow that’s a big fish in a small pond.  Or at least a fish that in his or her mind is just waiting to show Reo Wilde, Jeff Hopkins and Levi Morgan how they’ve been doing it wrong all these years.

You may have noticed I’d gone from a generic ‘individual’ to ‘he’ in this writing.  I’m not trying to be sexist or disregard women.  I just haven’t met “Ms. Ego” although she too may be out there. Regardless of the scientifically proven fact that women talk more than men when it comes to braggadocio women play it cool.  Oh, they’ll beat a guy to a pulp on the range but they’ve mastered the ability to have you not feel so bad about it.  Women are just more advanced with their egos than men. I expect they quietly laugh behind our backs, which could explain the occasional smile men get and misinterpret as a friendly acknowledgement.

Last week, I watched the ultimate example of an over blown ego in a self-produced video by a Mr. Archery Ego.  He, apparently, had one of those sticks that held his camera away from his body while he aimed the camera at himself.  As I watched, I became hooked in the way someone does who can’t stop staring at a County Fair Sideshow Oddity.

During the video Mr. Archery Ego is walking through a wooded area.  He’s creeping along as if he’s hunting.  He’s speaks to viewers in in hushed tones to prevent a possible animal from hearing then running away.

As he creeps along he continues to quietly yammer away about himself, his bow, his arrows and his release. I would not have been surprised to have seen a sign pop up while he mentioned his equipment that displayed a little “#” tag.

I nearly did stop watching. It was just too much of a weird thing. Just as I lifted a finger to end the video he spotted his prey.  The video continued to run.

Somewhere tracked in front of him, in this wooded area, he’d discovered his target.  He continued to whisper, his voice now barely audible.  I knew he was preparing to shoot a hash tag hungry arrow.

Before even an arrow could be nocked, he went into a yardage-judging trance.  With the camera now aimed at his face he posed looking serious, concerned, he frowned, rubbed his chin, and wagged the fingers on his free hand in the air.  He whispered advice toward the camera’s microphone to viewers perhaps locked on his every breathed word.  After minutes he’d completed mental gyrations and declared the required shot distance to all of us.

As be put down the camera in order to execute the shot, leaving it recording his boots, I had to wonder, is he going to shoot a cow?  What other animal is dumb enough to just stand there?  A dog would have run away or toward him.  Who shoots a dog, anyway? There is certainly not a deer wating for an arrow unless it is tied down.  It can’t be a rabbit, pig, or fox; they’d all have been long gone.  Like everyone who views this hunt I’d have to wait while watching shoes.

The bow pop of an arrow being released is heard as I continued to examine Mr. Archery Ego’s boots. There’s a hushed exclamation, of “Yes!” and I knew something had an arrow in it.  I’ve got to see what this fellow has shot.

The camera pans away from the foot apparel as he gathers the attached stick. Together we walk.  His seriousness is portrayed as he instructs us, facing the camera his feet free from scrutiny, while walking toward a prize all the while an excited yet controlled voice tells the viewers about the shot.  As we get closer to his kill, Mr. Archery Ego is in full bloom.  I gawk at my screen in astonished marvel.  We’ve finally seen the prey.

There is no comparison of the steely non-running nerve of the ever still foam animal.  This man has stalked a foam target.  Well no wonder it didn’t run off, it was staked to the ground. It was here I pressed ‘Stop.’

I admit I too have posted poorly self-produced videos.  I’ve even got an un-posted video of a really cool shot that I can’t figure out how to download.  One day I may be able to post that video.  But, webpage and all, I remain a mere second rate marketer of my ego’s desires by comparison.

There’s a sucker born every minute

Cheers to the fellow that captured my attention. P.T. Barnum’s point has once again been verified.