Are you familiar with the word N.A.R.P? If you know it, you’re probably, or once were, a high-level athlete. If you’re not familiar with the term NARP, I’m sorry to say that, in all likelihood, you probably are one.
See, the term NARP is a made-up word used primarily by a-hole college athletes to describe people that aren’t involved in varsity sports. It stands for “non-athletic-regular-person,” and, for many years, it was one of my favorite terms. The #narplife is defined by schoolwork, work-work, less-than-pristine eating habits, and a full social schedule. NARPs wear clothing that isn’t synthetic, attend to pressing issues like family, business, or schoolwork, and don’t particularly care about sports beyond the NBA, NFL, or NHL (hockey might be pushing it). As their name implies, NARPs are regular people.
At one point or another, varsity players switched out the word “jock” for “student-athlete,” which meant we had to change “nerd” to something more cryptic. Thus entered our favorite acronym, used in exactly the same contexts as its predecessor. Perhaps it was in vein of not having my own ‘regular life,’ or a pride thing to explicate that my being not-regular made me extraordinary, but I used the word NARP a lot.
Imagine my surprise this spring, in my first few months outside of elite athletics, when one of my former teammates asked me how NARPlife was treating me.
Excuse me, I thought. But I am NOT a NARP.
However, by all of my old standards, a NARP I had become. Switching racing bibs for business cards, training schedules for social events, and electrolyte supplements for evening beers, I represented all that I had referred to as NARPdom.
Turns out, we can’t all be elite-level athletes forever.
But, NARPs are people, too.
And, while I stand by that last statement, I’d like to suggest that we introduce a new term to our vernacular, one that isn’t an insult but rather a celebration of people who maintain their commitment to sport within a “regular person” environment. People who go for lunch rides, morning soul cycle classes, and evening strength sessions, and still manage to get some work done in between. How about the athletic regular people?
How about living the #arplife? Why don’t we say that?
Just a thought. Just throwing it out there. Because, in all of my elite-athleticism, I didn’t totally understand how hard it is to maintain fitness with full-time work until I tried it. That’s coming coming from someone who works in the outdoors industry. Some days, my job is literally to go exercise, and I still have trouble keeping shape!
So, to everyone I ever called a NARP, I’m sorry. The way you spend your time and pursue your passions is wholly yours to define (but also, it was pretty funny at the time). And to my fellow ARPs, my friends who are athletic regular people, I salute you. Go get em.