Measuring Confusion

I thought I would start with a continuation of yesterday’s entry and give you an update on how it went at the Grand Canyon State Games. Both Trina and Tiffany had registered for events in Track and Field. The track meet was located at Mesa Community College in Mesa (it works out better to put the college in the city it is located otherwise people get really confused). Events were to start at 5:30 PM and check-in was to begin at 5:00 PM. After spending the morning at the Sports Authority watching as Trina tried on various shirts and shorts, I was definitely ready for something a little more exciting. Trina was especially nervous since she had not jumped competitively in over a quart of a century. She loves it when I put it in terms like that. Add to this the fact that she had not trained at all for this event and her anxiety levels were extremely high. Tiffany on the other hand was the poster child for coolness. Competing at a high level has become old hat to her and she was just enjoying the idea of being able to high jump with her mom.


We arrived at the track at 4:45 PM (Trina didn’t want to be late for her big meet). As I pulled into the parking lot I noted that the temperature was registering 116 degrees, the hottest day so far this year. I parked the car among the other athletes who were unloading equipment and making their way into the stadium. It was interesting to see the types of people that the Grand Canyon State Games attracted. There was a woman in her late 60’s who was entered in the pole vault, shot put, and long jump. There was a man who was in his 80’s that was running the 400 meters and the 100 meters. At the high jump pit there was Trina and Tiffany along with an athlete that Tiffany competed against at the High School State Track Meet in May and one lady in her mid-20’s. For the men’s side there were two kids that looked as though they had recently graduated from high school, a man in his 40’s and a man in his late 50’s or early 60’s. This was a pretty diverse group with very distinct styles. Most of the jumpers were using the Fosbury flop except for the older gentleman who did the Western Roll.
As the competition readied to begin, the judges asked each athlete what height they would be coming in at. Each of them began talking giving the officials the height they wanted to begin jumping. You would have thought that this would have been the easiest part of the competition. Unfortunately this is where everything began to break down between the meet officials and the athletes. Each of the athletes gave their opening heights using feet and inches. The high jump standards and all official results pages were in meters and centimeters. Everyone stood around looking at each other not quite knowing what to do. Now if I were smart I would have just kept my mouth shut and let them figure it out; but I have never been accused of being smart so I opened my mouth and offered that the conversion rate was that one meter equaled 39.37 inches. Taking that into consideration they should be able to figure out what height they wanted to jump and what the bar was currently set at. From the looks I received when I made that suggestion, I may as well have just described the theory of relativity or how light bends. My day officially changed at that point as every athlete would come to me to ask what height the bar was set at and what that equated to in a measurement they knew. It might have been a little easier if I had thought to bring a calculator. Instead I spent the afternoon and evening doing my impression of the Rainman rattling off numbers and calculations in my head. I briefly considered starting to talk in the voice of Dustin Hoffman and stating that I buy all of my underwear at K-Mart but I was afraid no one would get the reference and I would end up looking like some sort of creepy idiot savant. For once I made the right decision and kept quiet except for announcing each calculation.
When the high jump ended I thought so did my calculating job; I was wrong. We made our way over to the long jump pit to await the beginning of the triple jump. Word had gotten around that I seemed to know the metric system and jumpers began lining up to ask me how far they had jumped or what a calculation was so they could set their mark on the runway. You would have thought that I was interpreting a foreign language instead of converting units of measure. This really is not that hard. I came away with a headache. I am not sure whether this headache is the result of spending the day out in the sun or because I had just taken the equivalent of a mathematics oral exam. Either way I thought I should have gotten a gold medal for my performance. Instead I have to be content to looking at Trina’s or Tiffany’s. It was an interesting day to say the least.


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