Tuesday, September 03, 2002

"I Can't Find Anonymity Anywhere!"

By Ted C. Clarke
- 50m Backstroke Big East Champion

You know, being a part of a successful athletic program is great. It’s what we athletes work hard and train for our whole lives. We put every ounce of our heart into workouts, trainings, and meets. And then one day you reach the pinnacle –– taking the 50m Big East Championship. It’s amazing! You feel like you’re on top of the world; and you know, maybe for a brief second or two, you actually are. It’s like a dream come true.

But you know what? There’s a part of that success that you don’t read about in the Pitt News. With all that glory comes a price tag. And unfortunately ever since I achieved notoriety, my personal life hasn't been the same. I get recognized everywhere. By everybody. Old, young, black, white. They all feel like I owe them something just because they cheered for me.

But now it seems like all my personal privacy is gone. I can’t even walk out my front door without hearing the chants, “TEDDY,” “PITT SWIMMING ROCKS,” “TED, YOU THE MAN,” “I WANT YOU TO HAVE MY CHILD.” It’s nice to receive encouragement, but all the time? I can’t handle it. Everyone wants you to be their friend. I like having friends as much as the next guy, but I’m sorry I just don’t have enough time for 13,000 of them. I can’t be all things to all people. So I can’t trust people like I used to. Do girls want to spend the night with me because they like me, or so they can tell their friends they were with the 50m Big East Champ? I have to question everyone’s motives and requests.

It’s gotten so bad now I don’t even want to leave my house anymore. I don’t even want to answer my phone. It rings off the hook. I cling to the one shred of privacy I have left in my life. I can’t go out and party like other students, because Monday morning it will be all over campus. If I have a couple beers, I’m an alcoholic; a couple puffs of marijuana, I’m a pot head. If I leave the party with a girl, I’m a womanizer. Everyone’s got some claim on me and knows who I am, or so they say. I hear people talking behind my back, and sometimes even to my face.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade in my 50m championship for anything, but sometimes I just wish I had known the price tag that came with that title.

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