Column: Differences is what makes cross country special

Kaitlin Cordes, Women's Cross-Country Reporter


Football stands are often packed full of screaming fans dressed to the nines in team gear, yelling both cheers and insults across the field hoping a player or opposing fan will hear it.

Baseball bleachers teem with excitement from life-long and bandwagon fans alike as batters square up for a 90-mile per hour fastball that coasts straight over the plate.

The fan sections at basketball games are forces to be reckoned with as their booming cheers fill the entire arena, deafening anyone who steps foot into the building.

At cross country meets, a few parents and other family members calmly hang around the finish line, anticipating the return of their favorite runner.

Coaches are spread out at every mile marker, encouraging the athletes as they pass. Teammates are posted up along the course, shouting praise to their fellow runners.

Yes, every one the previous mentioned sports has its degree of fans in attendance at their game or meet, but what’s the difference between football, baseball and basketball and cross-country?

Cross-country has a considerably smaller cheering section compared to the other three major sports. And that is a shame.

Cross-country is more than waiting for someone to finish or knowing what time they got at the end of the race.

Cross-country is about trial and error, mental toughness, passing and pacing at just the right time and pushing the team unit to do their absolute best.

Sure, there’s rarely the degree of physicality found in football or basketball, but that doesn’t mean cross-country is not exciting.

Each mile is a different experience for the athlete. Their performance in the first mile is vastly different than their performance in the final stretch. Watching this change and the runner’s progression provide the excitement most would argue is missing from the sport.

Performances can also vary between meets. No one competition is the same for each individual.

Cross-country is all about improving, whether that be on a personal time or moving up in the final results. These athletes push themselves even harder every time they hit a new course.

Another key aspect to competing in cross country is strategy. When an outsider is able to pick up on a team’s execution from the viewpoint of a fan, he or she can try to guess what the runners will do next.

Often, a team will start out in a pack, giving each other the confidence and psychological boost to push through the meet. Fans can look to see who will pull ahead and can be in for a treat when a new face zooms past their opponents at the second mile marker.

The assumption that cross-country isn’t worth watching and meets are boring are gross misconceptions. Meets are full of action and will undoubtedly please any true sports fan.

Cross-country is worth watching.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]