The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Effect Will The Election Bring?

Election day is one week away. Well, sort of--there's enough early voting going on around the country that next Tuesday is only nominally election day. To stretch a metaphor, it's no longer the Super Bowl but the seventh game of the World Series.

While my political preferences are no secret (I'm a hard-core political leftist) the question to ponder here is how this election could affect track & field. Most have no affect whatsoever, but there's going to be so much upheaval going on next week that its coattails will even extend into the world of sports.

#1. An Obama Presidency Will Give Chicago A Leg Up on 2016
There are several issues here. First of all, Bush's popularity abroad is just somewhat better than that of Idi Amin's, and a clean break with his ilk can only help Chicago's effort. Generally the aristocrats who run the IOC don't give a damn about public opinion, but it sure can't hurt. There's also the fact that Obama is a Chicago resident; I don't know how much help it is.

But in the eyes of the IOC, Obama's biggest plus is that he's not McCain. Saint John got pretty uppity with the IOC in the wake of the '98 Salt Lake City bribery scandal. He chaired the Senate Commerce Committee's hearings on the affair and even summoned then-president Juan Antonio Samaranch (who, of course, didn't show). The IOC may well have deserved such a working-over, but that doesn't mean they liked it. These kinds of people tend to have long memories and hold grudges...otherwise they wouldn't have gotten themselves into positions of such unchecked power.

I still think Rio is damn near a lock to get the '16 Olympics.

#2. Ted Stevens Goes Down The (Series Of) Tubes
In case you missed it, Stevens was found guilty yesterday on seven counts of corruption, which makes his re-election unlikely. What the heck could this possibly have to do with track & field?

Stevens has been notoriously defensive about his pet projects, even by Senate standards. So if anyone wants to toy around with the Amateur Sports Act you'd have had to go through him..and he's prickly to say the least. The ASA was authored mostly by Stevens in 1978 and broke up the AAU's power. It was updated in 1998 and Stevens was at the helm of that project as well. It is the law to which USATF owes its very existence. As far as the details of the law and whether it needs changing or not, I have no idea. But I do know USATF is in dire need of fundamental change and appears incapable of doing that by itself. If you're going to attack the root of the problem--the very structures and mandates as handed down by the ASA--your #1 roadblock will soon be out of the way.

#3. Race-Baiting Won't Play In A Presidential Election
There's been plenty of this at certain campaign rallies, along with some other sleazy items that mostly sailed under the media radar. An Obama victory would indicate such strategy is less useful than it once was.

This fall we will have an important election for the new president of USATF. The presumed frontrunner, and a year ago considered a lock, is a Columbus resident named Stephanie Hightower. While not as openly using her race for self-advancement as co-clown Brooks Johnson, she is not shy about taking advantage of literally anything that will advance her own interests. She would not be a good president; the usually-sedate Michael Johnson has called her "a bitch on wheels".

Brooks Johnson has already "resigned" his USATF post after getting the message from new USATF CEO Doug Logan; several decent candidates have been emboldened and decided to run against Hightower (and effectively end their USATF careers should they lose). Let's just hope that if race-baiting can't stop Obama, it can't propel Hightower.

No comments: