The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Evening Decathlete

What did we learn this week?

Opinions are like...well, everyone has them. No one really knows why USA Track and Field CEO Doug Logan got canned except the people who fired him (and there’s no guarantee they had a reason anyway). What’s more interesting to me is to see how different the explanations are. All the main sportswriters talking about it are likely working from the same sources and information, but the tones vary widely. For example, compare Phil Hersh to Let’s Run and RunBlogRun.

There were big conflicts. On Friday, the following tweet was posted by @DougLoganUSATF, then quickly deleted along with the entire account:

Instead of Trump in Boardroom got Willie Banks sitting on a bed while Fantasia and Opie were telling my staff

What does it mean? Unlike on The Apprentice, Logan was told he was fired by Banks in a Vegas hotel room. At the same time his staff in Indianapolis was being informed personally by USATF President Stephanie Hightower (“Fantasia”) and Jack Wickens (“Opie”). That Logan broadcast this sentiment was highly unprofessional and an indication of how combative he was. On the other hand, Hightower could only get a nickname like “Fantasia” by abandoning the reality-based community.

What we need in a new USATF CEO. I was discussing the whole situation with my wife, who knows little to nothing about high-level track. She does, however, have a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and over a decade of experience working on college campuses. She said the skill set necessary for being USATF CEO is not that of a sports league commissioner or a private-sector CEO, but that of a university president.

Think about the similarities. Each answers to a board. The main job of each is to be a fund-raiser and public face for the organization, almost a cheerleader. Each must unite various competing factions into a whole. Each of those factions are all clamoring for more attention and more dollars so they can attend to their various projects. Some of those constituencies need to be expanded, some contracted, and maybe some eliminated altogether, but convincing the various leaders of their relative importances is a difficult job indeed.

So if we can find a retired university president who had once been an Olympian, and that person is up for an extreme challenge, I think they’d be our man. Or woman, as the case may be. Or maybe we need a peacemaker on the order of George Mitchell.

By the way, my wife also said that if you want to destroy any chance of meaningful action on an issue, commission a blue-ribbon panel to investigate it and create a report.  She'd never even heard of Project 30 when she said that. 

Usain Bolt is the world's pre-eminent sports showman.  He one-ups P.T. Barnum be being the circus himself.  Season's over, Bolt hasn't competed for six weeks.  What does he do?  He goes to Australia and shows up at a special football players sprint competition, and does his thing.
He was driven into the middle of the home straight in a Rolls-Royce and, on cue, emerged from the back seat to perform his signature pose, as if holding a bow-and-arrow, tilted at 45 degrees. He then stood to the side of the track before a troupe of break-dancers unleashed all manner of moves.
All he did was run on the celebrity relay and the attention was huge. The main event was a special 100-meter showdown between footballers from the National Rugby League, the Australian Football League, the A-League and rugby union. Naturally, it was titled the "Gatorade Bolt". Note: tickets cost as much as $70 AUS ($65 US) and the winner pocketed $20,000, nearly half as much as Tyson Gay took home for winning the Diamond League's season title.

I've got a new favorite track name.  It used to be Korean pole vaulter Yoo Suk Kim.  Now it's Kiwi decathlete Brent Newdick.

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