The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

USATF Should Be Split

Jan 15th, 2014
9:32 am PDT

PlaceholderAs 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:

  1. Registration and monitoring of professional American athletes
  2. Oversee the development and growth of professional track and field in the US
  3. Interface with the IOC
  4. Interface with the USOC
  5. Interface with the IAAF
  6. Interface with USADA
  7. 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:

  1. Athlete development
  2. Athletes funding
  3. Anti doping and nutrition
  4. International team selection
  5. Coaching and athlete distribution
  6. 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.

2 Responses to “USATF Should Be Split”

  1. Waynebo says:

    This is a good idea. But how would it be funded? The USATF seems like it already is straining to get funding and sponsorship. To properly handle a professional division would required some specific funding. Where does that come from?

    I think that since the sport is much more popular in Europe, they could take advantage of that by perhaps getting TV deals with European networks for specific US meets. They could invite some of the stronger NCAA squads(with funds paid to the T&F program) to ensure that the number of quality athletes is enough to make the meet worth watching. The benefit of this would be that the marketing could be focused on the local market because the meet would be broadcast to European track fans. That would put fans in the stands and perhaps secure smaller local sponsorship. Just an idea…

    There also should be more relay meets on the elite level in the US. How about a 4 x 1600 featuring The Oregon project vs. Kenyans vs. Ethiopians and club vs. club on the sprint level. God forbid we actually see a 4 x 200 with some of the worlds top sprinters. And not just at the beginning of the season, but near the end as runners are peaking. The WC “off year” would be a great time to host the world relay championships. Just another idea…

    • CHill says:

      The new body should be granted a portion of what is currently in the coffers… But one of many reasons there needs to be a new body is the failure of USATF to raise the necessary funds to operate the professional side of things..

      And I agree, I would look to Europe and even South America to sell rights and raise funds… Selling track in South America should be seriously looked at with the next Games scheduled for Rio..

      And Europe and Asia should always be filed for sponsorship opportunities…

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