And it was all my fault, I'm man enough to now admit. Being a big time fan (BTF) of any professional sportsman or sportswoman has its own special risks, and whenever we BTFs ascribe the status of "superhuman" to any person, no matter how magnificent their achievements may have been, we flirt with the inevitable, crushing disappointment that comes when our heroes prove to be merely human.
So what's this prattle all about? Team James announced they're through with the Nationals for 2010. Kaput. Why? According to the press release, James and the team are not ready to "...compete in the series at the level they are accustomed to," and James doesn't want to "...put my entire career at risk by getting injured again." Stewart even apologized to the fans, the series and the sponsors.
Cue BTF tummy ache: "Dammit, I wanted to see him ride at Pala! How could he DO this to me? He's so selfish, all he cares about is his career and making a profit for his sponsors and team! What about MY needs??"
Damned if it didn't take me a few days to get over myself. Maybe it helped that I avoided the Vital MX online forum since the news broke; maybe not. In any case, once I got over my emotional reaction to the news, I realized it was a smart move.
Of course, every professional motocross racer faces the risk of injury every time they line up behind a starting gate. But how many of them willingly gas it while wondering if they are about to crash their brains out because their bike and/or body is "not ready?" Going for it when one is not ready is what some amateurs unfortunately do. And maybe desperate pros struggling to establish themselves. But top tier pros and the multi-million dollar teams that enable them have too much at stake to do something so foolish.
So while the news disappointed me so deeply it made my stomach churn, I admit it makes sense. Team L&M/San Manuel Band of Mission Indians/Yamaha/James Stewart Entertainment, in its current configuration, is a supercross-focused team. Racing the last four Nationals knowing that there are problems with the bike and the rider that could lead to crashes and injury would be counter-productive. After missing most of the 2010 supercross series and after failing to defend their supercross title, this team really needs to focus on being healthy and ready to race in January 2011.
Apology accepted, James.