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ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

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  • ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

    Many of you state there is a flaw in the US athletics training, funding and/or development system.

    I am willing to send a letter to Craig Masback with each of your viewpoints, regards, statements, opinions, arguments and suggestions surrounding the current state of USA track and field.

    The word document to Mr. Masback (cut and pasted from this forum) will provide him a forum of his own to address some or all of your comments, provide feedback and clear up some uncertainties regarding the future of US track and field.

    I will send the document to Mr. Masback once we reach 200 unique users who wish to provide constructive feedback or simply comment on their interest in US track and field. If you are willing, let:s set this up and go. My goal is to provide viewpoints outside of the organization:s circle of influence that can lead to the successful return of USA respectability back on the distance map, with more than 1-2 deep on the annual TFN world top-10 lists.

    Who:s up to taking action in the USA?

  • #2
    Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

    Just a general comment here from me, not something to go to USATF:

    IMHO USATF should have 3 different aims:

    1. Broaden the base of participation at the bottom level, as a complement to middel school and high school programs

    2. Get Track & Field to a higher level of recognition with the general public, particularly the sports-interested public

    3. At the very top Elite Level, provide special training opportunities and high-caliber intensive coaching

    I think the focus of your proposed missive to Craig revolves around # 3, but again IMHO # 1 and # 2 are even more important.

    One last comment. Sure, as an American I want the USA to do as well as they can on the international scene, but improvements in # 1 and # 2 would please me even more.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

      Epelle-

      I disagree with hijumpsteve. I think #3 on his list is most important. We have the kids pretty well covered. Track is very popular and we have plenty of talent at the lower levels. The question is - why aren't we able to develope world class talent?

      I like Irv Ray's idea of an ODP tyep of program - similiar to the one used by the US soccer program. Identify young talent while in h.s. and work towards developing that talent 8-12 years down the road, without the concerns of earning points for scholarship money.

      Resources would be needed to provide scholarships for those elite who are identified. They would be given money for school but would not train or compete for that school. Instead they would be put in an elite group (maybe near the otc in Colorado) where they could train, eat, live T&F.

      Programs would be developed on an individual basis with long term goals in mind, specifically 4 year Olympic year cycles.

      This group may contain 6-10 of the best hs talents in each event, 8/15/(5,10). Coaching would be done by someone proven on the world level and mentors would be involved including those former US World Class athletes.

      The cost would be scholarship money, living expenses, traing supplies and a very small salary. Maybe, off the top of my head, a total $100k per athlete + coach's salary (distributed throughout the group).

      Corporate sponsorship could fund the program. If Nike was willing to fund AW maybe they, along with other sponsors would also be willing to fund a more broad reaching program.

      I think times are a bit desparate. And, you know what they say about desparate times.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

        A. The age-group kids are fine.
        B. The HS kids are fine.
        C. The collegians are fine.
        D. The post-collegians are mired in an unfathomable abyss.

        so,

        1. Strenghen the Oly Trng Center concept and decentralize it, if need be (and I do think 'need be'), so athletes with potential have a place where room and board are covered and a job situation is possible. Right now athletes are scattered to the four winds, trying to get by. It ain't working.

        2. Market and hype the elite athletes and US meets, so the name recognition is there. Remember Dan and Dave? So do a lot of other non-track fans. Help the shoes companies (heaven forbid) to market the sport. The great Nike and adidas commercials do more than any USATF media presence that I've seen.

        3. Get some NBA/NFL/MLB type campaigns going in the media. Create a media frenzy about rivalries, mano a mano (sp?) or Us vs. Them. The Soviet duals were superb. Soccer is just on the cusp of learning how to market itself, we can do it too. CREATE interest!

        Right now there is very little that the casual USA track fan can hold onto. We have to get our elite athletes out there in the public eye. Then we have to get them to post up against each other (and the bad guys) on a semi-regular basis.

        Get us on REAL-TIME TV! Stop hyping world-f'ing-records every f'ing time we see a meet. Talk about seasonal bests, both athlete-wise and nation-wide. 'Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.'

        Just typing this boils my blood, because I see my favorite sport falling further and further behind Extreme Rollerbade Freestyle Moguls or some such rot.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

          2&3 are most important to me. Regarding #1, it seems that at a grass roots level XC and track is still pretty popular. Does anyone know the participation rate for high school kids?

          Regarding promoting the sport, I was just having a conversation with a friend of mine regarding the US Team's performance at the recent World XC meet. One thing that came up was why did USATF schedule the US men's marathon trials the same weekend as the US Cross Country Championships and the Millrose Games?

          We have a hard enough time promoting the sport as is so why dilute things even more by scheduling three major events the same weekend? Makes no sense to me, and obviously didn't help generate any coverage for the sport in the US.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

            Going back to hijumpsteve's points: Taking care of #3 will go a very long way to helping point #2. If you develop some serious talent who is able to compete on a world level the sport will be promoted, we will get more coverage.

            Look how the media jumped all over Webb when they thought he might be the savior or US miling. We and the sports public wants a star. We want someone who will be able to compete with the Africans. We want another Jim Ryun or Steve Scott. Unfortunately it has been so long since we have had someone of that caliber we have forgotten that it is even possible.

            We can't promote the sport without stars. Trying to do #2 without having #3 will be futile. We must develope the talent then the recognition will come.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

              Get us on REAL-TIME TV! Stop hyping
              >world-f'ing-records every f'ing time we see a meet. Talk about seasonal bests,
              >both athlete-wise and nation-wide. 'Accentuate the positive, eliminate the
              >negative.'

              You're rehashing old arguments! I work on almost every T&F show that appears on TV and I make sure that we stay away from showing unrealistic records as we introduce each event. (Which is not to say that some announcers don't occasionally get "carried away"). And there has been more live TV or same-day taped delay shows in recent years than there has been in a long time. Just look at this year's schedule:

              USA vs. The World(Penn Relays), Presented by Verizon     NBC     4:30-6 p.m. LIVE      April 24

              Home Depot Invitational                          NBC      4-6 p.m. LIVE          May 22

              U.S. Open                                      ESPN2      9-10 p.m.         June 1 (taped for next day coverage)

              adidas Oregon Track Classic               ESPN2     6-7 p.m. LIVE       June 5

              Nike Prefontaine Classic                       ESPN2      9:30-11 p.m.        June 19 (Same-day coverage)

              U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field        NBC/USA Cable           July 9-12, 15-18 (Same-day coverage)

              And more to the point--do you think that Craig Masback and the rest of the USATF staff work in a vacuum? They're well aware of the state of the sport (the good and the bad), but, having said that, they're also willing to listen to constructive criticism.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                Walt - you are clearly one of the 'good guys', but every d*mn time we get a race beyond 400m, there they are talking about some record attempt that couldn't possibly transpire. How about the race for am 'A' qualifier? That's where the excitement is! As for Live TV, the recent Worlds and NCAA's were NOT. I must assume that IS within the purview of USATF to make happen if it's a big enough issue. It's all about negotiating. I thank you for your efforts in our regard. CL disappeared and LR will too if he doesn't heed the rustlings in the wind (tho I personally have always liked him, because he DOES know the sports so well).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                  And more to the
                  >point--do you think that Craig Masback and the rest of the USATF staff work in
                  >a vacuum? They're well aware of the state of the sport (the good and the bad),
                  >but, having said that, they're also willing to listen to constructive
                  >criticism.

                  No, it is unrealistic and unreasonable for us to assume or insinuate that Craig Masback or anyone else within USATF or its supporting cast are unaware of the current state of US track and field. I would appreciate Mr. Masback:s responding to some of the personal, organizational and constructive criticism being discussed within the sport - by former athletes and long-time fans. IMO USATF only addresses issues when pressed, and does not take proactive steps to enlighten members of its own community. If we are left out on the dark, how is it they (USATF) expect to reach a non-athletics public with little-to-no interest or knowledge about the sport of track and field?

                  I am for an elite team concept where collegians can live and train together under the best coaching available to US athletes. I would like to see the world:s best available instructors face the call and lecture at this hypothetical university, providing athletes great life-application (degree field) educational training and development.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                    I'm for elite training suppot at the sub-elite level. Of course we don't disrupt the support given to our already established elites, but there needs to be some sort of developmental program that has more impact put into place. Most of those who have made it to the elite/world-class level weren't there by high school, and a number of the individuals who showed great talent in high school never make it even in college, so I think starting a developmental program at that age may be a waste. I'd rather see there be support for those who've already gone through college, are perhaps into their early 20's, and still wanna go after times. These would be the people who don't get the big shoe contracts after graduation, but would be your typical running store team athletes who show great potential but need more time than the 4-5 years of college to continue developing it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                      Bring back Cassel(?).

                      At least when he was in charge there were some ranked US distance runners.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                        >Bring back Cassel(?). At least when he was in charge there were some ranked US distance runners.<

                        Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                          >Bring back Cassel(?).

                          At least when he was in charge there were some ranked
                          >US distance runners.

                          wrong board .... www.letsrun.com maybe?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                            What eventually happened to this effort EPelle?

                            The reason I ask is because I just finished reading my March 2005 issue of TAFN last night. In this issue was an interview with Masback. Once again I found myself really struggling to read the entire piece. I realized a long time ago that I have nearly zero expectations of that guy ever saying anything of substance that I can interpret as a solid commitment on his part to address the fundamental problems facing the sport of T&F.

                            I've all but given up hope that he will ever put his ass on the line and PROACTIVELY and PUBLICLY define his EXACT goals & objectives for the coming year(s). I've come to the conclusion that the void in our sport will never be filled by USATF. USATF is as vanilla and as bland as it gets. Masback has no vision or passion for shaking things up. He's too busy lawyering his way thru his tenure.

                            The only thing worse than the Masback interview in this issue was the total fluff piece written by Jim Ferstle entitled: "Building The Brand: Enhancing The O.S. Road Scene". Garry/whomever, please don't ever put that kind of article in TAFN again. It was a total crock and a waste of space IMHO. Ferstle is too close to the people of RunningUSA/USATF/LDR, etc. to write an insightful and objective article about what's happening in LDR.

                            The common denominator between these two pieces is their emphasis of what has been done before and why things have not changed. Why not assign your writers to dug up a real story on what the T&F leaders in this country ARE going to be doing to make things better.

                            Ferstle missed a perfect opportunity to inform your readers about the future when he did not press Bill Roe for specifics on his closing comment: "A strategic and business plan is nearly ready for distribution as a "blueprint" that USATF will follow in the coming years to enable them to 'tap into' the distance running segment of the sport."

                            USATF reminds me of what many corporations do when things get bad? They "reorganize" their org chart and shuffle the same players into "new" roles/positions and then think that they have sufficiently addresses the causes of their problems. What they are actually doing is kidding themselves.

                            Can anyone here give me reason(s) for optimism that USATF knows what they are doing?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: ACTION USA - Dear Mr. Masback!

                              >>I have nearly zero>expectations of that guy ever saying anything of substance that I can interpret>as a solid commitment on his part to address the fundamental problems facing>the sport of T&F. I've all but given up hope that he will ever put his ass>on the line and PROACTIVELY and PUBLICLY define his EXACT goals & objectives >for the coming year(s).<<

                              I agree with your overall assessment, but I'm not sure what he CAN do, i.e., what changes he REALLY CAN effect.

                              It's obvious you have given this some thought - if you were Masback, given his real world resources, where would you focus your attentions? What practical programs would you enact? I guess the bottom line is - you have limited financial resources, where do you spend them. Promotion of current programs? Grass-roots programs? Elite development programs? Wherever your attention goes, you must limit yourself in the remaining areas.

                              I think I would put all my eggs in the 'Development" basket and ask the state associations to bear the brunt of the 'minor' programs. The sport is heavily dependent on volunteers, and we need to enhance that aspect. More bang for the buck is available if 'free labor' is available. Many masters competitors would do more if asked directly to get more involved. Give us a nice polo shirt and we're happy.

                              Comment

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