Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my hometown for the last 25 years has a professional baseball team called the Barnstormers. They are a minor league team. My family has been to several games on different occasions. I haven't yet been to a game. I am not a fan of stick and ball sports in general, but they are the local team, so I hope to get to a couple of games before the long baseball season ends.
It will have to be a night game, because if I have that much free time during the day, I'll be on my bike.
Anyway, one of my neighbors has taken her kids to several Barnstormers games and said they are a lot of fun. Then she said, "but it's sad reading about the players, you can tell they are on the way down in not-so-great careers."
So. . .
They may not be starting for the Red Sox, but they are professional players. They get paid to play ball. How many people ever get a chance to play pro ball or get paid to play any sport as a professional? I know that there are tens of thousands of people who wish they could play pro sports for every one who makes it.
When she was making that comment, I thought about the 50 miles I rode today, part of more than 200 I rode this week trying to get to the point where I can just finish a race. Nobody among the thousands of masters amateur racers I ride with gets paid. Really hot shot riders get free jerseys and bike parts, but nobody quits their day job.
In amateur sports, as in the Army, the big dividing line is between those who do and those who don't. Often when I ride with a group of fast riders who are not racers, somebody will tell why they don't race. Usually, they are worried about crashing. I always tell them they made the right decision. Racers crash. If you don't want to crash, you should not race. Frankly, you should not ride fast or on roads either, but that's another topic.
In the same way, there is no safe way to serve. Get a guarantee for the safest job and a computer somewhere will spit out a requirement for your job in the middle of the hottest conflict. Enlisting means serving as needed. It can be dangerous.
And like racing, it is clearly not for everybody.