The N.C.A.A. named the women's triathlon an
The N.C.A.A. named the women's triathlon an "emerging sport," but it doesn't look like it's emerging anytime soon. (Getty Images)

Slow Start for Triathlon As NCAA Sport

Schools won't commit

The N.C.A.A. named the women's triathlon an

In January, the NCAA adopted women’s triathlon as an “emerging sport” after at least a dozen universities told the organization in a letter that they would consider adding a women’s varsity program. The collegiate triathlon will include a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike segment, and 10-kilometer run—a total length of about 32 miles.

Fast-forward about four months, and only one college, Marymount University in Virginia, plans to compete at the NCAA level, according to the New York Times.

However, more than 160 colleges and universities have triathlon clubs, and the race combining swimming, cycling, and running is actually quite popular in the college-age demographic. Each year, about 1,200 collegiate triathletes compete at the national championships, according to USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body.

Some schools that signed the letter say that when asked to commit, they were unable to allocate funds for the new sport. Even schools such as University of Colorado at Boulder, where students train in the country’s triathlon hotbed, have no plans to sponsor a team anytime soon.

With this pattern, triathlon could face the same fate as women’s archery, badminton, and handball—other “emerging sports” that never quite emerged.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: Getty Images