If you’ve never heard the term NARP before, chances are you are one or you’ve been called one, and you don’t even realize it.
Urban Dictionary defines the term NARP as follows:
This applies to anyone not on some kind of organized varsity or similarly recognized team. You work out every day? It doesn’t matter, you're still a NARP. Do you try to live a healthy lifestyle? Unless you have a jersey to prove it, your efforts are still sub-par.
Now, as a college athlete, I understand there are some things that non-athletes don’t understand. Everyone loves to complain about their busy college schedule but until you’re factoring in two-a-days (practice twice a day) around your gen-eds and club meetings, I don’t want to hear it. Or how early you have to get up for your 9 a.m. class, meanwhile some teams have to lift at 7 o’clock. That’s where “#atheleteprobs” accounts stem from and are segues for a lot of NARP jokes.
But that’s only half the word.
Let’s focus on the “R” and “P” in NARP: regular person.
This is what drives me crazy.
In high school, I was a mess before all my track races (OK, let’s be real, I still am). The 2:41 p.m. bell would ring and from that second on nothing but nerves pumped through my veins. I had intense anxiety and no matter how near or far the ride to our meet, you could find me in the first row of the yellow bus, a stone-cold statue. Often I would gaze out onto the streets below and see pedestrians or drivers, thinking to myself, If only they knew what I’m feeling right now. My feelings were so intense that I couldn’t imagine anyone else going on with their day normally.
It took me only a second to realize those thoughts are completely absurd, because no matter who we are or where our passions lie, we all share these emotions: joy, determination, apprehension, and fear. Athletes who feel this way about their sport do not get to belittle people who feel the same about their writing, singing, knitting, or anything else.
Just because someone is not an athlete does not make him or her regular. When you call someone a NARP, you are unjustly putting yourself and other athletes on a pedestal for no other reason than the number on your back or the title on your chest.
Yes, you’ve worked hard to attain what you have, but so has everyone else. Their hobbies and life choices are no less significant than your own.
As I’ve moved up in the world of athletics I’ve heard the term used more frequently, especially by former school athletes who joke about, "embracing the NARP life," knowing their weekly gym routines, road race 5ks, and pick-up games are things that they once made fun of. Oh, how the tables turn, but guess what, we’re probably all NARPs at some point. So why not embrace it?