‘PRO’ vs. No

A gentleman’s disagreement has occurred on this internet, and being the type that cares deeply about the alleged meaning or non-meaning of a simple three-letter word, I want to weigh in.

Some background:

Joe Lindsey at the esteemed Boulder Report created a bit of a ‘things that must go’ list, and included one of my least favorite, yet incredibly ubiquitous shorthands/twitterese/acronyms-with-no-substance words, PRO.

Brendan at Competitive Cyclist then mounted a defense of the term with a collection of images.

As much as I respect Brendan’s point of view and his passion for cycling, he’s dead wrong on this, and someone as committed to the craft of writing as he is should know better. ‘PRO’ amounts to the easy way out, a crutch, perhaps, when discussing the sometimes-indescribable nature of professional cycling, the culture surrounding professional cycling, or the relationships many (mostly men) have with the sport.

Once you’ve utilized every adjective that quickly springs to mind, ‘radical,’ ‘awesome,’ ‘sick,’ ‘sweet,’ et cetera, you have to either more deeply examine what it is about an image, a place, or concept that makes you feel a certain why, and further, what that feeling is, or you use a crutch to get your point across; in this case, ‘PRO.’

The images Brendan chose to make his case are good, if not great, representations of bits of what makes cycling special. The open, lonely road, the old Belgian men carefully placing cobblestones, the spare Ambrosio rims laced to DT hubs with Vittoria Pave tires glued to them for the Classics. These are the bits of minutiae that make the sport special. Each one of those images tells a story so unique from anything else in the sporting world that it is a shame to simply categorize them as ‘PRO.’

This is the first and last time you’ll ever see ‘PRO’ printed on this blog. You can also be assured that you won’t see it anywhere that I have creative control. And, I sincerely hope that cycling fans can move beyond this crutch, and talk more openly and honestly about how the sport moves them and what it means.


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