The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Jesse Owens Award

Tim Layden has a season-end summary article about his vote at His choices are the obvious ones from my vantage point, training mates Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards. They are the only Americans who truly flat-out dominated their events on the worldwide level.

Interestingly, the peanut gallery at the T&FN message boards have little nice to say about the article. They claim that Sports Illustrated ignores the sport except for drug stories. As I see it, only USA Today gives track more press (and SI might be ahead on a per-issue basis). Certainly, they're better than ESPN, where you're not sure if they even know which way to run around a track.

Head honcho E. Garry Hill responds to Layden's statement that "track has faded far from the center stage in the sports spotlight, except when the subjects are Victor Conte, Patrick Arnold and their ilk" with "Ever heard of cause and effect?...SI, New York Times and all the other majors started treating track only as a source for good scandal a decade ago. Bad news drives out good for them."

Now, someone with a short memory might say "Right on, brother!". Not me. I still have the 1991 issue with the Vietnam-era ripoff headline:
The T&FN staff identified a range of problems threatening the sport's visibility and popularity. Drug scandals were low on the list; the basic incompetence and ignorance of the people in charge were the problems. Here we are, fifteen years later, and most of their dire predictions have come true. But GH wants to lay blame elsewhere now.

It's not as if track or even "Olympic" sports have sole ownership of doping issues now. The pain is shared. A recent post about Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's weight loss and career resurgance was met with an unending stream of comments that he was or is on the juice. Tank McNamara just ran a week of comics about steroids and it never even mentioned track. Everyone is now conscious of a widespread problem that track was honest enough to face long before any other sport.

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