The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide

It's time once again for the rundown of things you can buy for the track fan in your life. (Get the hint, Mom?)

IAAF Wall Calendar
Calendars are boring gifts...unless you have to order them from Monaco. Usain Bolt and eleven other world champions grace the pages. $12, order from IAAF.



Born To Run
The best widely-available track book of the year, it does the impossible: it makes ultramarathoning interesting. $15, Amazon.com.



Arkansas Track & Field T-Shirt
Does your fan love college track, but hate Oregon/Nike with a fury usually reserved for the Yankees? Fayetteville might be the real Track Town USA, and they sure have won a lot more. $17.95, Arkansas team fan shop.


USA Track & Field Golf Balls
If you can't be at a track meet, the next best way to while away the hours is on a golf course. Consider them very tiny shots, and tee off with your best Adam Nelson act. You'll get noticed. $24 for a dozen, USATF.org.



Track & Field Necktie

Hey, if you've got to wear a tie, go in style. Or something. Well over a hundred different styles to choose from. $29.95, zazzle.com.



Marathon Picture Poem Mat
If you hate your track fan, or they're bulimic and you want to help them vomit, this is a perfect gift. (Just click on the link and start reading and you'll understand what I mean). Screams "self-absorbed yuppie." $89.99, giftsforrunners.com.

Your Morning Mug o' Links

Slow news weekend in terms of T&F.

RW Daily News has what headlines there are.

Weekend results of big time pro XC: IAAF permit meet in Soria, Spain; EAA permit meets in Lisbon, Portugal and Roeselare, Belgium; Athletics Kenya meet near Nairobi.

Brett Larner does some stat work comparing young US and Japanese runners.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Very Cool Photos

Brought to my attention by Dr. Jonas Mureika on the T&FN message board. Old pictures from the 1932 LA Olympics. Very, very cool.

Track, LA

I happened across an article at ESPN.com titled Can a non-NBA fan be converted? The schtick is a columnist who last cared about pro basketball in the 8th grade goes to both a Clippers and a Lakers game to see if the experience is worth it.

The importance here is in relation to the death of the adidas Classic at SoCal's Home Depot Center. The meet has been horribly attended and poorly covered and deserved its death. Writer Geoff LaTulippe sheds some insight when he describes the crowd at a Lakers game:
I hated most of the people I encountered at this game, and that's for one reason and one reason only: This is L.A., and the poseurs content of any remotely acclaimed public event is high. Wannabe high rollers in sportcoats. Chicks in high heels. Ed Hardy shirts. Little dogs in purses. I loathe the existence of these people -- those who go to a game not for the game, but to be seen. The Lakers' season is like a 41-game convention for the abhorrent. And sadly ... they're the huge chunk of the attendees.

There was someone sitting in the front row near someone else who might or might not have been Kevin Connolly who got up and walked out at one point; Alison brought him to my attention. Dude was wearing a wool hat, a leather jacket and a scarf. A scarf. A scarf at an indoor sporting event in Los Angeles. Oh my God.

I knew Lakers games attracted the attention seekers like crazy-lame moths to a candle, but I didn't realize how completely they inundated the place.
With the outstanding exception of the Texas Relays, a track meet is simply not a place you go so people can look at you. Ditto for a football game. So it's no accident that both track and the NFL have beat an exit from L.A. And neither seems to be much the worse for it.

Yeah, track in the USA has its problems. But the lack of pro-level competition in Los Angeles simply isn't an important issue. Track does have a major presence in New York, which is the media capitol of the world; that the Millrose Games is a sad shadow of what it used to be is far worse for track than its absence in SoCal.

Sign of the Apocalypse

California will have a state high school indoor track championships this coming February.

Yeah, it's only an exhibition...but still, if there's a state in the union that's made its fortune on the idea of outdoor activity any day of the year, it's California.

The meet will be in Fresno on February 5th and 6th. Average high: 60 degrees.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Track iPhone App!

For a while my wife and I have kicked around the thought of getting iPhones. She's had the iPod Touch for a while, which she described as "the iPhone gateway drug". We put it off because we had another year on our current mobile phone contract and weren't really interested in the cost of breaking it.

Just three hours ago my wife found out our contract actually expired two months ago. Our iPhones were ordered in short order afterwards. They'll be here on Monday.

And about ten minutes ago I discovered the first track news iPhone app: TrackGeek. Awesome!

The Hilarity, The Hilarity

This is too precious. Sarah Palin did a Turkey Trot 5k yesterday in Kennewick WA. The Tri-City Herald reports:
Palin had announced on Twitter that she would be running the 5k race organized by the Benton-Franklin Chapter of the Red Cross. She didn't finish the race, opting to leave the course early to avoid more crowds at the end.
(emphasis added)

Wow. Somebody has a complete lack of self-awareness.

All-Time Greats Rankings

Here's what I have right now. Bear in mind the following:
No pre-1947 results are considered
Athletes with a * could earn more points as I work on pre-1962 AOY rankings
I'm still totalling numbers and I'm almost certainly missing some athletes
Women are in the works, but will require quite a bit of research

1 Haile Gebrselassie 309.16
2 Carl Lewis 297
3 Segey Bubka 283
4 Emil Zatopek * 265.5
5 Edwin Moses 253.5
6 Hicham El Guerrouj 247.5
7 Michael Johnson 242
8 Jan Zelezny 214.5
9 Yuriy Syedikh 208
10 Noureddine Morceli 203.5
11 Said Aouita 203
12 Kenenisa Bekele 202
13 Randy Matson 200
14 Janis Lusis * 193.5
15 Seb Coe 191
16 Virgilijus Alekna 187.5
17 Daley Thompson 185
18 Kip Keino 184
19 Ralph Boston * 182
20 Viktor Sanayev 180.5
21 Parry O'Brien * 178
22 Maurice Greene 177.66
23 Dan O'Brien 177.5
24 Jonathan Edwards 177
25 Udo Beyer 176.5
26 Wilson Kipketer 175
27 Ron Clarke 174
28 Colin Jackson 172
29 Javier Sotomayor 169.5
30 Moses Kiptanui 168.5
31 Frank Shorter 160
31 Bill Toomey 160
33 Steve Backley 156.5
34 Valeriy Brumel * 151
35 Alberto Juantorena 150.5
36 Renaldo Nehemiah 149.5
37 Allen Johnson 149
38 Khalid Khannouchi 148.5
39 Igor Astapkovich 148
39 Peter Snell * 148
41 Larry Myricks 147.5
42 Bruce Jenner 147
43 Mike Conley 145.5
44 Janusz Sidlo * 145
44 Jim Ryun 145
46 Dwight Stones 143.5
47 Mike Powell 142.5
48 Greg Foster 142
48 Wolfgang Schmidt 142
50 Tomas Dvorak 141.5

All-Time Greats Scoring Sample

Nourredine Morceli is my example. His career rankings...
Year 1500 3k 5k AOY POY Total Pts
1990 1



10
1991 1 1
6
15 (10 for 1500m, 5 for AOY)
1992 1



10
1993 1 1
1 2 24 (10 for 1500m, 10 for AOY, 4 for POY)
1994 1 1 1 1 1 25 (10 for 1500m, 10 for AOY, 5 for POY)
1995 1 2
4 5 18 (10 for 1500m, 7 for AOY, 1 for POY)
1996 1

10
11 (10 for 1500m, 1 for AOY)
1997 5



6
1998 4



7
1999 5



6


Even in a year where he ranked in multiple events, Morceli can't score more than 10 points from them. If this practice were not in force, athletes who specialized in one event couldn't possibly compare.

The only way Morceli gets more than 10 in a year is if he made the top ten in the Athlete of the Year rankings (scored 10 for #1 on down to 1 for #10) or the top five in the Performance of the Year rankings (5 points for #1 on down to 1 for #5).

For his career totals, we take his best 4-year span, total it, and double. That's '93 to '96.
(24+25+18+11)*2 = 156
We take the rest of his best eight-year span ('90 to '97) and add that in.
156 + (10+15+10+6) = 197
And then the rest of his career is taken at half value.
197 + (7+6)/2 = 203.5

Why do I do it this way? There's a wide variance in career length between athletes, especially when comparing those from different generations. The Olympic cycle meant that most athletes would stick it out for a quadrennium. So that's considered the most important.

Being able to keep up greatness for a longer period of time does help, though, so I took a longer view at a lower level. Beyond eight years is pure longevity, which should just pad an athlete's numbers.

Next up: my current top 50...

Who Are The All-Time Greats?

This is something I've pondered on for many years. My long-time goal was to come up with track's version of Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract. But there are multiple problems with this, not the least of which is my having a full-time job and being fairly lazy. But also, track simply does not lend itself to the same kind of statistical analysis that baseball does.

Which is not to say that it cannot be analyzed statistically; it just includes FAR more variables than a man only equipped with an undergraduate math degree could ever deal with. For example...

1) Major championships. We all know the Olympics are a huge deal, but not all Olympic finals are equal. In '76, '80 and '84 they were compromised by boycotts, and some events more than others. In 1992 the decathlon was compromised by the USA's do-or-die team selection system. In 1948 the decathlon was compromised by the absence of the USSR. And literally hundreds more examples can be found among major international championships. Accounting for them all boggles the mind.

2) There are lots of other competitions besides international championships. How do you account for all of those?

3) World records are important in track, but not all world records are equal. There have been spates of records at times (example: introduction of fiberglass poles) and droughts at others. Which is better, Uwe Hohn's massive javelin throw of 343' 10" in '84 under the old specs or Jan Železný's 323'1" under the current ones? And what about the obvious effects of stricter doping control? Yikes.

Fortunately, I don't have to balance all these things. A committee does that for me every year, and has done so since 1947. Track & Field News' annual World Rankings sorts it out for me. I use those rankings.

So here's what I do. I compile a career rankings record for each athlete. I assign points for that ranking (10 for #1 on down to 1 for #10). An athlete's best four-year span gets doubled. The remainder of their best eight-year span gets added in. And any points earned outside that eight-year window go in at half value.

If an athlete ranks in multiple events in one year, as often happens with sprinters and distance runners, only their best ranking counts.

Now, not all #1 seasons are equal. Some are strong (example: Jim Ryun in the mile in '67) and some are not. How is this taken into consideration?

Well, every year T&FN also comes up with an Athlete of the Year. Not just an AOY, but a top ten ranking for them. They also choose a Performance of the Year, and I've kept track of their top five. Athletes can earn additional points from these.

Problem: AOY choices were only made from '59 to the present, and top tens only from '65. POY choices have an even shorter history. In the November 1969 issue of T&FN, co-founder Cordner Nelson made retroactive picks for AOY going back to 1947, but didn't fill out a top ten. So I'm in the process of doing so, a task I'm doing carefully and none too quick.

What about prior to 1947? There's a man out there working on what he calls "retro-rankings" and is darned good at them. But he's in no hurry to release them to the public. I'm working on it.

Next up...a scoring sample.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Random News & Views

...Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay are going to race each other in NEW YORK CITY! And negotiations to bring Asafa Powell into the mix are ongoing.

...The Reebok Grand Prix is dead, long live the adidas Grand Prix. That New York stop on the Diamond League has switched title sponsors and already has its event list up on its website.

...Bolt says his car wreck last spring made him focus.

...Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones kept their drugs in the fridge next to their vegetables. As tight-lipped as Jones has been, admitting only what she was forced to by the courts, Monty has told all while in the jailhouse. The extended story is quite worth reading.

...Meb Keflezighi was in this morning's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He was on a float with Miss America and was a full head shorter than her.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your Morning Link Feast

RW Daily News has the main headlines, mostly more NCAA XC stuff.

Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden nominates Usain Bolt for his magazine's Sportsman of the Year, to be announced next Monday. And Arne Ljungvist, the IAAF's anti-doping expert, is certain that Bolt is clean.

World XC champ Gebre Gebremariam will compete at the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country on January 9, which is usually the most competitive XC invitational of the year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things I Think I Think About XC Nationals

I went to the NCAA D-III championships on Saturday, and the D-I championships on Monday. Random thoughts...

...D-III fans are nuts. In a good way. The kind of crazy getups NFL fans don aren't that unusual for this crowd. Plus, they get to run around like a bunch of crazy kids...which they are.

...The meet was in Highland Hills, and required some police presence for traffic control. I saw a white-haired cop working and thought "I know that guy...where do I know him from?"I chatted with him for a moment. Yep, Jerry Skeabeck, a former contestant on The Biggest Loser.

...On Sunday I met up with some friends and drove over to Indiana. We stayed at a hotel on the DePauw campus, about 45 minutes away from Terre Haute, as did a few teams.

...What's with college XC coaches? Most of them look like freaks. An unnamed team staying at our hotel has a coach who looks like an uglier, scruffier version of Billy Bob Thornton. Minnesota was there, too, and we figured they didn't have a chance because Steve Plasencia looks too normal. They were 24th.

...I thought one race would be close and the other would be an ass-whuppin' of epic proportions. Turns out I was right but on the wrong race. This is Chelanga's lead at about 5 miles:
video
McNeil ran the second half faster than Chelanga, though.

...Let's Run gave Oklahoma State the favorite status, noting they were significantly superior by any measure save current-season performance. By the same evaluation, Oregon was #2. And that's how they finished.

...Chelanga is a tiny man. At 5' 6 1/2", I rarely see over anyone's head, but when he ran a few inches in front of me he only came up to my nose.

...When I saw Jenny Barringer hit the ground, I presumed it was an injury. Turns out it was almost certainly a panic attack. Seems odd for that to happen to the most experience and battle-tested athlete in the whole race.

...Both Let's Run and Versus overlooked Angela Bizzari in pre-race analysis, instead focusing on Barringer and Susan Kuijken. Yet when it was all over, an NCAA title in a 6k race went to the reigning NCAA 5k champ. Why was this surprising to anyone? Maybe because she wasn't an XC title contender at any time in the past and hadn't made her breakthrough until track season. Or maybe because she didn't win the Big Ten championship. But any reasonable analysis should have put her as the only athlete with a chance at beating Barringer.

...Two of the guys I went with are a pair of grizzled old men who put on a decent-sized high school cross country meet (3000+ runners). They came away most impressed not by the athletes but by the facility.One of them grumbled about how Terre Haute's facility wouldn't be acceptable to the OHSAA for their state championships, what with all the people running around the course and having fun and loving cross country.

...Barringer is virtually the only Jennifer I've ever heard of not born between 1970 and 1972.

...For several years we've seen a resurgence of Americans in the men's race at the NCAA championships. Then this year a Kenyan dominated with a Brit second. Derrick and Fernandez are on the horizon but not yet in the foreground.

...Speaking of Fernandez, what's the deal? 97th? It sounds like he battled injury all season, trying to help the team, and ran out of gas here. Had an NCAA title not been in the works, he likely would have redshirted. I'm sure many observers think he should have, but raising a championship trophy over your head is something many great runners have never been able to do. Fernandez likely chose OSU in part because he wanted to do that.

...Fantasy leagues are the greatest thing that's happened to sports since TV. Three of us did one for the two races, each picking two individuals and two teams in both the men's and women's races and totalling our best five results. I got shelled. One of my friends is a stats teacher and (of course) had a random number generator on his iPod Touch, so we used it to decide our draft order. It picked a number between 1 and 100; I went first and got 98 and yelled "Beat that, bitches!" J.J. stepped up next and got 99.

...I just saw the TV coverage. There's significant bitching about it at the T&FN message board, and while I've seen better I've also seen worse. Plusses: live, in HD. Minuses: Hello? McFly? It's called a steady cam!

...The usual knuckleheads, Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson, did their usual poor announcing job. It was amusing that you could clearly hear the PA announcer during the meet, and was outclassing the Versus crew by a mile. I say next time leave those two at home and plug in to the public address system!

Your Morning Linktopia

I'll have my roundup of the weekend's NCAA championships later today--I went to two of the three.

RW Daily News has the main headlines, mostly NCAA XC championships. Flotrack has a lot of coverage.

Steve Hooker likes the new Diamond League, which will include three Bolt/Gay clashes. The Prefontaine Classic could do very well in the new DL format. Dwain Chambers won't be able to take part due to his past doping.

A dozen more athletes have signed up for USATF's super-doping-control program, while Narion Jones made hollow pronouncements about not making bad choices.

Germany finally reinstated Gretel Bergmann as a one-time national record holder.

Friday, November 20, 2009

From Weird Earl's

Weird Earl's is an archive of links to web "curiosities" on the Straight Dope home page. A recent link takes us to the Squished Penny Museum. I have to admit I collect these things...or rather it was decided I collected them. My wife came back from a business trip with a few of these and said "You collect these, right?" No. "Well, you do now."

I've got them from the Empire State Building, the Hemingway House, and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad to name just a few. But I don't have this one:Huh. Didn't even know it existed.

Your Morning Linkpile

RW Daily News has the main headlines, including NCAA cross country championship previews.

Sports Illustrated's David Epstein weighs in on the latest in the Caster Semenya saga. He also weighs in on the latest in the Oscar Pistorius saga, and the Science of Sport guys look at it too.

Britain's Telegraph notes how Americans are running off the recession in a big way.

The IAAF cross country season starts tomorrow. Let's Run previews the women's race at Monday's NCAA championships, and the Runner's Tribe previews the men's race.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your Morning World o' Links

RW Daily News has the main headlines.

The IAAF released a statement that they're not yet making a statement on the Caster Semenya case. But the South Africans just released one saying she's keeping her gold medal and prize money. This whole thing is not even close to being over.

The Science of Sport guys react to a new study on Oscar Pistorius' advantage. As usual, they take a long and thoughtful look at complex data.

Christian Cantwell talks about defending his world indoor title, and Carmelita Jeter is making noise about the 60 meter world record.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Your Morning Linkpedia

RW Daily News has all the headlines: USATF Hall of Fame inductees, the beginning of the IAAF cross country season, and the Boston Marathon is already filled up.

And then there's this one: Runner's World has gotten into a bit of a controversy over some fitness photos of Sarah Palin that ran on their website and subsequently went on the cover of Newsweek. Should RW have done things differently? Only in that they shouldn't have had anything to do with that woman. Dealing with her in any way brings unavoidable political theater, and if it's not what you want then steer well clear.

The IOC has finally stripped Rashid Ramzi of his Olympic gold medal.

Usain Bolt is now officially a sports superstar: he was in a "This is SportsCenter" commercial. In other news, he's throwing a big giant par-tay.

A proposed Comcast-Universal Sports merger may pave way for an Olympic channel.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Interesting Read

Not often you find these in the snarkfest that is Let's Run's message board, but the one about training at 2 or 3 or 4 AM is worth a click.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Your Morning Linkstravaganza

RW Daily News has the main headlines.

WADA is celebrating its tenth birthday, and it's had a significant effect. And a big-time steroid dealer in Florida got busted.

Franklin Field, the home of the Penn Relays and one of the nation's great stadiums, has been given a serious update.

Follow track athletes on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Intersection in My Venn Diagram

Shannon Robury wrote a piece for Huffington Post. While it's for a left-wing political site, what she wrote could just as easily been part of a Get Motivated! seminar.

Your Morning Link Dump

RW Daily News has the main headlines.

USADA chief Travis Tygart says rogues are the main problem in doping, not institutions. And Sureyya Ayhan Kop's lifetime ban is upheld.

Sesame Street is turning 40, and the show's running-related highlights are noted. Missing: the Sesame Street News segment covering the tortoise v. hare race, a classic. There's more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Your Morning Link-o-Rama

RW Daily News has all the top headlines, including the finalists of IAAF Athlete of the Year.

The Kenyan cross country season got underway in Machakos.

The AIMS symposium looked at the successes and potential of charity running.

SPIKES mag profiles world decathlon champ Trey Hardee.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Internet Problems

Jeff MacGregor's column at ESPN's Page 2 tries the old Larry King People News & Views format this week. My favorite line:
… Some days the Internet is just a dump truck full of stupid careening through your rumpus room, isn't it? …
Oddly applicable, too. Today I got a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer on the other side of the country telling me some moron posted a nasty false comment on this blog about a track club coach. How do I know it's false? 'Cause the lawyer said so.

Anyway, at first I was pretty confused, until I figured out the text in question wasn't even written by me. I deleted it faster than Bill Curtis can connect to the internet. So comments are going to be moderated pretty closely from here out.

Your Morning Link-o-rama

RW Daily News has all the headlines...slow weekend, aside from high school cross country.

Martin Bingisser sent me this one: a review of The Throwing Pope, a Hungarian documentary on hammer guru Pal Nemeth. Better brush up on your Magyar, though; the only currently available edition doesn't even have English subtitles.

The European XC season got underway this weekend, with (surprise) two Ethiopians winning.

Scott Bush ponders.

RunZoom shows us what happens when sprinters attack.

The Sowetan says cheaters still prosper. But WADA is looking at a new EPO test.

Toronto will host the 2015 Pan-Am Games. I wonder if I can talk my wife into an extended trip to Toronto...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Paav Nurmi Biography in English

You'd think that the guy who was possibly the single greatest pre-WWII track & field athlete would have a biography in English. But according to Cam Bowie at the T&FN message board, there's only one and it's relatively new.
Paavo Nurmi was the greatest Olympic athlete of the first half of the twentieth century. Winner of nine gold medals, he dominated longdistance races at three Olympic Games and overshadowed a fourth, having been refused a chance to crown his career with victory in the marathon in Los Angeles 1932 in one of the greatest causes celèbres of the amateur era.One of the most famous sports personalities of his time, Nurmi filled stadiums all over Europe and coast to coast in America.
It's 27 Euros (about $40) and only available through the Sports Museum of Finland. Bowie suggests e-mailing Pia Arvo (pia.arvo@stadion.fi), as negotiating online shopping through a foreign country and in Finnish is beyond all but the most international of us.

This will go on my "I'll get it sooner or later" list.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

RW and Greatest Distance Runners Ever

I've not seen the article, but from Let's Run...
In the December 2009 issue, RW, in a heading "Best Male Distance Runner of All Time" lists Haile Gebrselassie as the greatest. The 4 on their honor roll are; Bekele, Roger Banister, Frank Shorter and...

Jim Ryun? one silver medal in 2 Olympics, ahead of such runners as;
Coe
Zatopek
Yifter
Keino
Nurmi
Viren
Bikila
Rono
El Guerrouj
Tergat

What are they smoking?
Thus follows four pages of arguments, some lucid, most not. Like I said, I didn't read the article, so I don't know the thought processes behind the choices. But I cannot come up with a situation in which I agree.

In terms of pure accomplishments, Ryun doesn't belong in the top ten. At his best--1966 and 1967--he was totally dominant. But if that's the criteria, the absence of Nurmi and Zatopek is curious. They were just as dominant, for a much longer time, and against better competition. Even among English-speaking milers with short-term domination, he's at least equaled by Herb Elliot.

The most commonly argued reason for including Ryun is cultural impact. (It's the only conceivable reason why Bannister is included.) Ryun (along with a bunch of others) inspired a generation of Americans to be runners. But again, he's beaten by several who were left out. The cultural impact of Abebe Bikila and Kip Keino on their respective nations literally cannot be overstated, and Hannes Kolehmainen may have single-handedly tipped a nascent Finnish independence movement into war.

Don't get me wrong. Ryun was a great runner. But the article in question simply can't have been done in more than five minutes.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Your Morning Link-o-Rama

RW Daily News runs down the major headlines -- including the sakcing of Athletics South Africa head Leonard Cheune over his lies in the Semenya affair.

Speaking of which, an South African athletes' meeting was halted due to the disruption of a number of drunk individuals.

Usain Bolt hasn't yet negotiated his Diamond League contract...and that's not good.

Apparently, Texas A&M's indoor facility wasn't built to code. It hosts the NCAA indoor championships. The Aggie AD responds.

I said I was done with this, but Brian Cazanueve's article on running nationality is very, very good.

A new book claims Juan Antonio Samaranch was a KGB agent. I wouldn't be surprised; he was a fascist under Franco.

Tyson Gay addresses US relay woes.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Discussion-Ender

The Is-Meb-Really-American crap has officially passed out of the realm of criticism and into the realm of ridicule.

Guess I'm A Sports Dufus

ESPN's Page 2 has a column listing the 20 things that make you look like a sports dufus.
Sooner or later, every last one of us ends up looking like a sports doofus -- casting sound social judgment overboard, setting sail with the tempestuous winds of passionate fandom, dropping anchor in the murky waters of athletic-related behavior that comes across as utterly ridiculous.
And I'm guilty of one of them.
11. Running in a rainstorm

Dubious behavior: Lacing up your $100-plus ergonomic distance shoes, throwing on a sweat-wicking top and going for a long run in the pouring rain.

Doofus factor: Moderate. On one hand, it's hard to fault the dedication of someone willing to exercise in inclement weather, particularly when physical fitness helps ease the burden on our overtaxed health care system; on the other hand, there was only one Steve Prefontaine, and you're not exactly reducing health costs when you're subsequently hospitalized with severe bronchitis.

Suggested solution: One word: treadmill. Two more: indoor track.

Mitigating circumstances: Your local television weatherman meteorologist got it wrong. Which basically excuses everyone.

Related behaviors: Golfing in a rainstorm, the way Tiger Woods did in that commercial.
And I know why I do this. Because, as explained in #10 Wearing baseball pants to play slo-pitch softball, I am "someone whose uncontrollable, indiscriminate competitive fire would be better suited on a driving and/or firing range."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bizarre Meb Issues

So when I saw Meb Keflezighi pull away from Robert Cheruyiot on Sunday, I thought "This is exciting and something I've never seen." I got chills down my spine.

I never thought it would end up on the Rec List at Daily Kos.

I still don't think it's necessarily racist (although I wouldn't count it out), just ignorant.

One comment said "None of these so-called "American born" runners donned a USA singlet on Sunday, choosing instead to wear the colors of their corporate sponsors. Only Meb wore "USA" across his chest." I'd point out that Meb did, in fact, wear his corporate sponsor's colors: Nike provides official Team USA gear, and everything Meb wore on Sunday, right down to his hat and gloves, had a swoosh on it. But still, the USA was larger than the logo.

Your Morning Link-o-Rama

RW Daily News has all your Meb Keflezihi headlines.

The NY Times examines the "Meb isn't American" crap. Amazing how a few trolls can get into the pages of the old grey lady.

He's American enough to do Letterman's Top Ten list, though--Top Ten things that go through your mind when running the NYC Marathon. An above-average series of jokes, too.

Boston might be next for Meb. Reality check: the odds are against him winning, because any single athlete is always a long shot.

Usain Bolt is sponsoring an abandoned cheetah cub.

Today's sign of the apocalypse: The PGA has a doping positive. Speaking of doping, Shawn Crawford is now training with John Smith & the HSI group.

Non-track news, but couldn't pass it up: Colbert Nation is now the major sponsor of the US speedskating team, as announced on the Sport Report (pronouced "spore repore"). Seriously.

Monday, November 02, 2009

It Had To Happen

Some yahoo at CNBC.com named Darren Rovell, who writes their Sports Biz blog, put up a short post titled "Marathon’s headline win is empty". Noting that Meb was not born in the USA,
Keflezighi’s country of origin is Eritrea, a small country in Africa. He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country.

Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.
As someone at Let's Run pointed out, this is jingoistic, not racist. It's also ill-informed. Track fans know that Meb emigrated at the age of 12, hardly a ringer, and had all the "benefits" of US society.

I'm willing to bet the house that Rovell didn't know the previous American (male) NYC champ, Alberto Salazar, was also not born in the USA and is a naturalized citizen. Heck, for that matter the last American male Olympic marathon medalist before Meb, Frank Shorter, wasn't born in the USA.

And the American medalist prior to Shorter? Johnny Hayes in 1908. Born in New York City...to Irish immigrants. Dirty foreigners!

Your Morning Link-o-Rama

RW Daily News covers the NYC Marathon and conference cross-country weekend.

More NYC marathon stuff: inspiration for a new crop of US runners, Meb's win bodes well for the future, Let's Run's post-race analysis, The Science of Sport's analysis.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Scary Headline of the Day

"Spice Girls may re-form to help open 2012 London Olympics"

I'll have to miss that.

Meb! Meb! Meb!

As no doubt you already know, Meb Keflezighi won the NYC Marathon this morning. I did not see it live--I was directing a small open cross-country race at the time--but I did see the NBC tape-delay coverage this afternoon (which was, by the way, really good).

There are a lot of good things to take away from this. First of all, it was a great decision by USATF to make a major marathon its national championship, rather than some B-level race. It created incentive to bring all the best Americans into one race. Four different Americans had legitimate chances to win, and so only one of them had to run a really good one.

I hope Meb's win is a game-changer. It's likely to generate a decent amount of badly needed sports press. I think it's likely to make some other changes.

When I was young, I saw Rod Dixon chase down Geoff Smith in the 1983 NYC marathon. Quite often while running in my local city park in chilly weather, I imagine I'm Rod Dixon--much like children doing any sport imagine themselves in the roles of their heroes. I did it when I was 13, 23, and 33, and I still do it. Today I went out for a good 8 miles after watching the race, and this time I imagined I was Meb Keflezighi.

I can hear it now..."but you're not black." I'm not a Kiwi, either. Nor have I run 27:13, won four NCAA titles and an Olympic silver medal, or emigrated from a foreign country. While I am 5' 7", I am most certainly not 127 lbs. In other words, about the only thing Meb and I have in common is being runners and American citizens. And that's all I need, or any young runner who watched the race should.

The last time an American won the NYC marathon was two years into the Reagan administration. That was a turning point for America, both in politics and in distance running. Now we're one year into a new president's term, one that I hope will be just a much a transition from old to new...one where no one wonders why a WASPy type would say "Here's Meb Keflezighi winning the New York City Marathon!" as he's running down the road.