7.31.2006

The once and future distraction


Twenty five years ago, as you’ll hear a thousand times at the upcoming ORSM show, the outdoor industry got its start in a tiny trade show ballroom in Reno.

What you probably won’t hear is that in the same year Israel invaded Lebanon, massive federal deficits loomed on the horizon, and staying in tune with current events was about as much fun as eating dirt.

No… I’m not trying to whip up a political discussion. I’m aiming for just the opposite, actually.

Remember how bummed you were when you saw the news about Floyd Landis last week? Even if you’re a loyal fan who refuses to believe the obvious, you still feel like you got kicked in the stomach. It’s a drag to turn to the sports page and have your memories of the greatest day in Tour history ripped up and thrown away. The sports page is supposed to be a diversion from the everyday weight of your life … and when it’s not, it’s time to head outside.

Today … like 25 years ago … the outdoor world is the ultimate in benevolent distraction. There’s no human growth hormones involved in a Sunday afternoon mountain bike ride. There’s no United Nations condemnation of a pre-work scramble to the top of a nearby peak. There’s no partisan cage-fighting over which dry fly to use for the evening hatch.

While the outdoor world ramps up for another Outdoor Retailer show, we should all remember one of the outdoor world’s greatest contributions: it helps us look away from, at least temporarily, the things we’d like to forget.

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