Early October, I started a community discussion thread on the subject of people drafting in non-drafting races. I asked readers to chime in on what they see in races.
This week, in post 56, Jesse Hammond posted a link to a photograph of a guy using fins at Ironman Florida this year. The internet has been on fire with discussions about "Finman". (For those of you that are not familiar with the rules in triathlon, fins are definitely not allowed. Also, drafting during the bike segment is not allowed in any race for age groupers. Drafting is only allowed for professional, ITU racers.)
I've read a few posts from several of the discussion boards and was somewhat surprised that some people didn't care about Finman or drafters. They were apathetic. Their attitude was, "It didn't affect my personal race or my personal results. I'm not aiming for a spot on the podium. After all triathlon is an individual sport and it's all about me racing myself to see if I can better my own time. I don't care what other people do."
So, Team Apathy doesn't care that any rules or principles are broken as long as it doesn't affect them personally? I have a problem with that attitude - I don't like it.
It would be impossible to have order in sport if no one cared about rule enforcement until the lack of rule enforcement affected them personally.
In the case of incidental drafting, I know there are times when athletes are tired and not paying attention. They stay too long in the draft zone, they get caught drafting and they get a penalty. It was a mistake and will likely not happen again.
What about repeat offenders, blatant cheaters?
Wearing fins in the swim is pretty obvious cheating. I wish blatant drafters could be called out in a more obvious manner. They tarnish the sport. They are no better than Finman.
If it is too hard to enforce drafting rules, for whatever reason, then perhaps it's time for race directors and officials to just throw up their hands and simply allow drafting. For those that don't want to draft and want to test their individual mettle as a triathlete, they can simply choose not to draft. After all, what everyone else is doing really doesn't affect them, so draft away.
If Team Apathy members grow and dominate sport, what will happen?
Probably, no one will care.