Rio was a letdown – and I LOVE me some track and field. But the Olympics are supposed to be the pinnacle of sport, and this one just didn’t have that feel! The men’s 400 final aside, the races were good, but lacked that "oomph" factor. It was the first Games I can remember where it was over and, well it was done – as in no one was talking about it anymore.
So, started looking ahead, and wrote my piece on US sprinting prospects moving forward – and got excited about the sport again! I mean, we have some kids on the level of Chandra Cheeseboro, Houston Mc Tear, Dwayne Evans, Steve Lewis, and Allyson Felix – all world class coming out of high school! But, as I have done with my own children, I look around at the world they’re coming in to – in this case the wield of track and field and I don’t know whether to shake my head or hold it and cry.
This has been one of the most difficult off seasons ever for me. I know, that I spend a lot of time chastising the sport for all the things that I feel it does wrong. In large part because I’ve seen this sport in a much better place – and I know what it’s capable of. But this fall/winter, since the above mentioned post, I keep looking for POSITIVE things to talk about, but nearly every day there is something about doping – and it’s always negative.
- Russia banned from Rio over systematic doping
- Leadoff for Jamaica’s men’s 4×1 retroactively tests positive from ’04 Olympics
- Kenyan anti-doping program is suspect
- WADA fails to conduct majority of doping tests it should have conducted in Rio
- Emails show IAAF was aware of, and aided in cover up of, Russian doping program called "Total Protection Project"
- Jessica Ennis Hill receives London gold in heptathlon after Russian Chernova retroactively disqualified
- Adidas ends sponsorship of IAAF over doping scandals, Asics takes its place
- IAAF approves reforms in the wake of scandals
This is just a handful of the headlines that have run THIS YEAR pre and post Rio! I considered writing something about each and every one of these, and been as prolific as ever, but why. To frustrate myself. To look like the angry old man in the block screaming get off my lawn?
The bottom line for me is this. After watching this sport for literally over 40 years instead of our sterling youth being ushered into the greatest period in the sports’ history, they’re coming into a sport rife with cheating, lying, deceit and corruption! Is it going to get better? I’m not sure to be honest. Not when the yearend awards come out and the "Athlete of the Year" is once again Usain Bolt. Yes, he’s had a fine career. But 2016 he was mediocre by his own, and most previous winners standards. Also up for the award was Wayde van Niekerk who certainly lit the stage up in Rio with one of the most outstanding WR runs in history, but who too had a non-descript season. While a man who I thought had a stellar SEASON from winter to Rio, triple jumper Christian Taylor, got nary a mention. And then we wonder why sprinters DON’T COMPETE often any more – why should they is what the sport is saying!
Will it get better due to the selection of Vin Lananna as President of USATF? I don’t know. Yes, he’s done extraordinary things for the University of Oregon. Can he spread his focus beyond the Willamette Valley and include ALL of the United States into his track and field thoughts? More importantly can he coerce NIKE to do the same? We need a LOT of work here. Starting with building up the sport OUTSIDE of Oregon! Vin I’d capable, but will he?
Finally, will it get any better given that USATF signed and EIGHT YEAR DEAL with NBC! I’m sorry, but NBC continues to ruin the sport inn this country. Why someone else wasn’t given the deal is beyond me. I literally can find nothing good to say about their coverage. From it being "dumbed down". To the fact that in the internet age they continue to deny us LIVE coverage of major events so they can "package" for prime time – often leaving out true fan friendly coverage! Third world countries get better coverage than we do, yet USATF just "doubled down"!
All that said, I love the prospects for the young sprinters coming up in the U.S.. A great bunch of kids to add to the rest of the team that garnered 30 Olympic medals in Rio. In spite of our structural weaknesses, American athletes are grinding away and getting it done! Now if the powers that be can get this MESS cleaned up!
That’s my rant, and I’m sticking to it. And the last time I just sit and watch so much negativity go by. It’s time for this sport to shit or get off the pot. That includes Coe, Lananna, Siegel, Reedie, Bach or anyone else heading a track and field associated agency. If you clean get things going in a positive direction, add the aging says, Move Get Out The Way Get Out The Way, Move.