On GoTrackTownUSA, 3 time All-American female distance runner Alexi Pappas writes:
By Alexi Pappas / TrackTown USA
EUGENE, Ore. – My family stood together in the small waiting room just outside the Oval Office, nervously smiling like a group of kids waiting their turn at the top of a waterslide. My brother Louis stood at the front of our pack, ready to walk in first – he had spent the past few years working on President Obama’s staff, and this was his last day on the job. The Oval Office door cracked open and laughter spilled out into the waiting room. The family ahead of us walked out, and there he was: the President of the United States, standing just a few feet away.
We shook his hand one by one. Louis introduced me as a professional runner from Eugene, Oregon. The President’s attention then focused directly on me. First, he told me about his visit to Hayward Field during his 2008 campaign. A wonderful place, we agreed. At that moment, Mr. Obama looked me directly in the eye. “You have a gift,” he said. “You were born with a body that was meant to run long distances, more than the average human.”
I was taken aback. Right away I knew what I wanted to say in response … but dare I risk embarrassing my brother and disagree with Mr. Obama? I started by thanking the President, and then I couldn’t help myself – I added that my performance in the sport is actually a result of hard work, motivation and support from my community.
This was not the answer the President wanted to hear.
“No, no,” he said, “Your body is able to flush out lactic acid better than the average person – running is what you were born to do.” Mr. Obama’s energy and tone were so confident and convincing that he could have told me the moon is really made out of cheese and I would have agreed with him. I nodded and thanked him. Besides, our five-minute meeting time was up. I left the Oval Office feeling very honored, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about what the President had said.
The idea that I was meant to run, that I was born with a special ability, felt like it subtracted from my own willpower and motivation to pursue something to the fullest and at the highest level.
A couple of Christmas-shopping seasons ago, the President was seen buying Sports Illustrated reporter David Epstein’s explicitly HBD book The Sports Gene. The Los Angeles Times reported:
But most of Obama’s choices lean more toward pure escapism.
“The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” by Sports illustrated writer David Epstein, tries to dispel common myths about what makes athletes great.
Personally, I think that studying sports for patterns that are revealing about humanity in general, such as the roles played by nature and nurture, isn’t pure escapism.