FIRSTLY, WELCOME BACK AND WELCOME TO QUEEN HARRISON.COM!!!!!
After a disappointing fourth place finish at USA Championships in Eugene three weeks ago I was a bit discouraged—not in my ability but because this marked the first time (and last) I failed to make a major international team after being in the Championship final.
Known to be what I may regard as “clutch” in the heat of battle I am always able to perform my BEST when it counts the MOST and make THAT team. Whether I come in with the slowest qualifying time or battling an injury that year, or “randomly” plucked the dreaded lane 1 or lane 8, I could find a way to make THAT team, but not THIS time. But this post won’t be about USA Champs and why I didn’t make the team, it covers a whole different set of woes.
Immediately following the final and an emotional post-race interview I was approached by one of the hard working ladies of the USATF about considering running in the Pan American Games this year in Toronto. Being careful not to let my emotions get the best of me and scream “NO!” to everything/everyone coming my way, I simply nodded, smiled and took the paper she was handing me in agreement as I continued on my way.
After what seemed like hours of genuine sympathy, “good job” text messages, and pity hugs from friends and strangers, I finally made it back to my hotel to properly sulk and then move on. In this time I also decided that participating in the Pan Am Games was the right option for me even though it was not the international team I originally imagined running on I was excited at another opportunity to represent the USA.
I regard myself as patriotic—not in an “all-encompassing, we’re the best, America does no wrong” type of patriot but for a simple reason: my dad fought for it. And despite any negativity and injustices created in this country there is a small piece in this nation that I regard as mine and for me because MY dad served in the Army to make it mine. So yes, I feel privileged to serve the United States of America also in my own way.
So I signed and filled-out all the necessary paperwork, sent in my departure and arrival city information and excitedly waited for confirmation to know I was ready to go!! But what I received was an email telling me that the cost of my ticket is outside the allowable USOC (US Olympic Committee) stipend limit and in not so many words, if you want to run you gotta PAY! HA HA HA! Wait, you guys are JOKING right?
So, you all ASKED ME to be on this team and you all WANT ME to run and win AND you all are NOT PAYING US one dollar if we win or lose and NOW on top of that, you want ME to pay the excess costs of getting there?
Now, let me be clear with y’all: I didn’t request for a business class ticket and of course they would have booked me on the LOWEST CLASS FARE they could possibly find, so to not be willing to pay for my ticket costs and offer up a measly $750 stipend is more than insulting, it’s just wrong. I am a professional athlete whose job is to literally “run the World” so me needing my flight to depart from France, where I am racing beforehand, and return me home should not be uncommon at this time of year and therefore should have been PLANNED for.
To put it in perspective, think of your job and let’s imagine (and hope) that you are doing a great job at it! You’re constantly one of the top performers at the workplace and your boss commends you for your efforts frequently. Your great work lands you with an invitation to the “Annual Business Meeting” where you will not only showcase your workmanship but also be a representative of the entire company (and if done well could lead to a $$ raise for your boss and the company).
Now because it is a part of your contracted agreement with your boss you don’t get any MORE money for going nor penalized for not going, but you are flattered all the same because it is a testament to your hard work and is an honor to attend. There’s a small catch though, you have to pay the hundreds of dollars for your international flight out of pocket… would you still be OK with that? Would you feel as honored? Some of you may say YES and chalk it up to the business while the others would probably be taken aback by the request. It’s almost like rewarding and taxing someone at the same time. SAY WHAT!? lol
The days of amateurism in Athletics are far gone and at this level where this is my career now, running for “free” is not much of an option. This is not a hobby of mine and while there aren’t many things I enjoy more than competing over hurdles, this is not for play; it’s for pay.
But despite it all I, Queen Harrison and the other Pan Am athletes this applies to, have decided to chalk up the costs and still go and participate in the Pan Am Games because the reward for racing, representing America and doing what I love outweighs the cost of my flight there. So, I will go race to WIN and bring the Gold back to y’all! *and TEAM ASICS
What do y’all think—am I being selfish for wanting my travel fully paid for? A diva? And with all the money that the USOC is raking in, am I the only one who feels like they can definitely AFFORD to pay for ALL the athletes travel but just won’t?
I say, if it’s important enough for us to wear a USA jersey on our chest than it’s important enough to take us seriously.
Until next time…
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post, and all my posts, is to share my experiences, my opinions, and most importantly MY thoughts.