I know, it’s not new for the Ironman to give away spots to celebrities as a publicity stunt to boost interest in the event to non-triathletes. Thousands of athletes work for years for a shot at racing in Kona and some washed up reality star gets a free pass. It’s a part of their deal.
This year it has gone too far, former Pittsburgh Steeler, former Dancing with the Stars Champion, former “actor” Hines Ward has not only been given a free pass to the Ironman World Championships, he has never competed in a triathlon until this year.
I’ll make it more simple. Ward a retired football player who is obviously trying to stretch his 15 minutes of fame as far as he can go, has been given a free entry to the Ironman World Championships. It’s part of Refuel Got Chocolate Milk? PR campaign, where you can follow Ward from his first triathlon to the World Championships.
For the people in the back row. Until he was offered a free pass to the Ironman World Championships, Hines Ward had never competed in a triathlon.
This is the "Super Bowl" of triathlon, for the worlds best and Ward has been given free entry, despite having no experience. If it's tit for tat, maybe Craig Alexander should quarterback in the Super Bowl?
You can almost see the meeting with Ward and his posse. “What’s next for me?” how do I stay in front of the people, get more Twitter followers, more friends on Facebook?”
“Here’s an idea Hines!” Says the PR person, “pitch, pitch, pitch and you get to be in commercials!”
I get that Chocolate Milk is a big sponsor of the event and you have to bow to your sponsors, but this is a smack in the face to people like Kristin McQueen and the countless others who are “real” triathletes and were forced to bare their souls on tape for the Kona Inspired contest for a free slot.
McQueen is an Ironman, has survived ten brain surgeries and raised over a quarter of a million dollars for cancer related charities. She will never qualify for Kona, yet she will do just about anything to live that dream that has been spoon fed to Ward.
Her only option was to make a video talking about her disease and the most intimate details of her life. Once the video was done, she uploaded it to the Kona Inspired site and had to beg and plead for people to vote for her story over and over and over again for months.
Despite McQueen’s best efforts she was not voted into the race. McQueen along with the countless others who literally fight to stay alive long enough to do this one race on this one day deserve better than what Ward and the Ironman have done to them.
I am from Pittsburgh and used to be a fan of Ward, now I think he is a classless attention hog who should know better.
To the people at Chocolate Milk who think this is a great campaign, let me tell you it’s an epic fail. You are insulting the hundreds of thousands of triathletes who have made triathlon a part of their lifestyle and not something to add to their IMDB. You are marketing to Steelers fans and Ward fans and that’s about it.
Hines Ward, it’s time to do the right thing and give up your slot, donate it, do something with it other than use it. You want to race in Kona, you want to be a triathlete, I say “welcome,” do it the right way and earn it, you’re a stud, there’s no doubt you could make it.
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