Exclusivity

As I wait in Chicago O’Hare airport, hearing my flight to Montrose, Colorado get continually delayed, I think about how my extended hiatus from skiing, and my exposure to the disabled community has renewed my conflicted feelings about the expensive, white-people sports I engage in. I had always been aware of how relatively few minorities engaged in sports like climbing and skiing, but it was only after being away from those worlds for awhile, that it made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. I don’t have data to support this, but my guess is that a disproportionate of people with a handicap fall towards the lower ends of the economic spectrum, because their physical (and/or maybe mental) limitations, prevent them from earning a high salary. That isn’t to say the only people who climb and ski are wealthy; there are many dirt-bag climbers and ski bums. But, for the most part, the high barriers to entry for skiing in particular will exclude a lot of people from trying or doing it frequently enough to get good at it. With climbing at least, after the initial investment in gear, access is cheap/free. I know I have been out of the skiing scene for awhile, but I was still gobsmacked by how expensive lift-tickets were at Telluride, CO, where I am headed to right now. A full day lift-ticket at Telluride is $118. So for one day, a family of four would spend close to $500, before gear rentals (if they don’t ski frequently enough to warrant the purchase of gear), before accommodation and food, before transportation to get to the resort. And in a destination resort like Telluride, a family isn’t going to ski for just one day. It is kind of ridiculous. But I’m not sure what to do about it. Not skiing in some kind of futile protest is rather silly, and I am not in a financial position to donate tons of money to organizations to bring underprivileged kids up to the slopes. But is it enough to just be painfully self-aware that I am in the fortunate position of being able to afford weekend and the occasional extended ski trip? I really do not know.

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