As the year ended I reflected on the sport as I see it. I continue to look at a sport that many say is dying, and continue to see a sport that I feel just needs tweaking. Not the sport itself. The full slate of events should be contested – and on the track, not down the middle of the street. No, I think the tweaking needs to occur within its administration. The people that run it and how it’s run. Like I said previously, if Bezos, Jobs, or Gates owned track and field heads would be scattered on the floor and administrative change would have long been in progress.
As I look at where change needs to occur, I see nowhere better to start than at home, so the first thing I’d like to see happen in 2014 is a restructure at USATF. I would start by actually splitting it in half down the amateur/professional line. Because the truth is that the needs of the young kids are drastically different from the needs of the professional athletes.
That said, we seem to be doing fine at the amateur level – which makes sense given that USATF, once TAC, once AAU, was set up specifically to handle amateur athletics. So I would continue to let USATF do just that, handle the amateur side of things.
I would strip away the professional duties and make that the job of a new body – the United States Professional Track Alliance (USPTA). This new body would take over all professional and international interactions of the sport, including, but not limited to:
- Registration and monitoring of professional American athletes
- Oversee the development and growth of professional track and field in the US
- Interface with the IOC
- Interface with the USOC
- Interface with the IAAF
- Interface with USADA
- Interface with WADA
The nice thing about creating this new body, means that a total rebuilding of track and field in the United States at the professional level would have to take place by default. New organization. New mission statement. New board of directors. New CEO. New structure. New focus. Most importantly this can all be done from the perspective of the needs of the professional athletes with zero ties to the amateur world.
Items that I could see on the initial Board of Directors meeting could include:
- Athlete development
- Athletes funding
- Anti doping and nutrition
- International team selection
- Coaching and athlete distribution
- Meet development
My point is we would have the ability to have a CEO/Executive body that could focus on the issues that are most pertinent the world professional track field. I believe that in order for the US to regain it’s proper place within the global realm of the sport, a greater focus is needed. A focus that in my opinion will not attained unless the sport is separated so that a professional arm can be developed separately from youth arm.
This would create greater accountability for all those involved in professional track and field here in the United States. Then perhaps we could get about the business of building the sport in the United States.