A year and a half ago my wife and I had the privilege of doing some underground cave exploration near Cancun Mexico at a place called Rio Secreto. The underground caves or more correctly “cenotes” were believed to be a holy place to the Mayans that once inhabited the land centuries before. The Mayans came to understand and describe this underground world as a sacred realm that influenced and mediated the land it sat beneath. As we wade inside the belly of the earth we saw sights that an unaided human eye would never be able to see. There were roots that seemed to stretch from eternity in search of any drop of water deep below. There were animals that lived inside the pitch black sanctuary without eyes, living entire lives without coming into contact with another living being. It was amazing to realize that a whole world existed beneath the one that I knew and understood and what I saw was only a small portion, only the tip of the iceberg.
During our initial descent our guide asked us how long we thought people had known about this particular cenote. We all assumed it was found decades prior, believing that a discovery of this magnitude couldn’t have escaped modern man for long. Upon hearing our guesses the guide, with the kind of smile that holds a secret, told us that the cave was found by accident by a man who was chasing after a wild boar. The ground had given way and one of the largest underground cenotes in the world had been discovered…a discovery that had happened just 4 years prior! 4 years!!! I was baffled that something could have existed in our midst for so long undiscovered. In my surprise was a sense of disbelief that modern man could have missed something so huge and important for so many years. I thought to myself, “How was this not explored long ago?!”
I don’t feel like it is necessary to craft some hyper-meaningful comparison between this reflection and the psyche of athletes other than the simple thought that I continue to be amazed at how little research and exploration has been done around what lies beneath the world of athletics. As I’ve turned my attention to this work I have often found myself thinking the same thoughts as when I left Rio Secreto. “How is it that we have missed these realities for so long!?”
One of the goals that I have set for this work is to begin telling the stories of this hidden world to those who have never seen it. The words of this blog are my first attempts at narration. Thus far it has been a collection of stories and insights from my own history and those I’ve worked with…but I want it to get bigger. My hope is that by categorically naming the realities of sports and sporting culture we can begin to truly see the impact participating has had on so many of our lives. Instead of just blindly continuing to play out these realities in the lives of the next generation, we can hold athletics up to the light to see what parts of it are pure and what parts are marred. This is how generational cycles are broken, with courage and the freedom to question the status quo.
The link below connects you to one of many surveys I’ll create over the next few years. Most of them will be very short and all of them will be anonymous. My hope is that they will help us draw a map of sorts to a very new and unexplored world. One filled with darkness and glory…a world full of secrets. One that demands the efforts of many to map the whole.
Will you help us explore? https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DBQSV92
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