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

USATF Should Be Split

Jan 15th, 2014
9:32 am PST

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.

We Need MORE Track Towns, Not Just One

Dec 29th, 2013
9:19 am PST

In my last post, I mentioned several things that I would like to see happen in 2014 - and I will address all ten of them during the early part of the new year. Reading the news yesterday morning, however, I decided to close out the year with something I don't want to see happen. The establishment of permanent sites for major championship meets in the United States Read More...

Out With the Old, in With Something New?

Dec 15th, 2013
10:12 am PST

We've got about a week and a half  until Christmas, then another week until the calendar turns to 2014. Somehow it seems like a long way back to Moscow and it feels like it's been a very long year in general. I've not posted in a couple weeks or so because I've been reflecting back on the season, trying to figure out just what I wanted to say, because to be honest it hasn't been my favorite season ever Read More...

Year Round Sports Are Depleting US Track

Nov 20th, 2013
5:22 pm PST

As we've watched the world catch up to us in the speed events – sprints, hurdles, relays – we've often complained about other sports stealing talent away from track and field. Especially when speed burners like Trindon Holliday, Jeff Demps, and Tyreek Hill come along and opt to focus their considerable talents on football Read More...

Mary Cain to Go Pro

Nov 17th, 2013
8:19 am PST

It had to happen sooner or later, a high school phenomenon turning pro. After all, we've seen world class high schoolers in the past. Certainly several WAY back during the early days of track and field when youngsters like Bob Mathias were dominant internationally. Even during what I consider the modern era of the sport – The 1960's forward, athletes like, Houston McTear, Mary Decker, Dwayne Evans, and Gerry Lindgren among others were among the top world class level athletes Read More...

PED’s a Decade After BALCO

Nov 5th, 2013
6:46 am PST

BALCO.  The biggest doping scandal in sports history. From Barry Bonds to Marion Jones, some of the biggest names in sport came tumbling down. Victor Conte became a household name. Everyone became familiar with the phrase "performance enhancing drugs".Baseball's greatest era of home run hitters was labeled "The Drug Era" and American athletes - specifically sprinters - drew the stigma of dopers! Not a pretty sight!  Doping issues in the sport were grabbing headlines weekly Read More...

Tokyo to Host 2020 Games – Who Next

Sep 30th, 2013
7:15 pm PST

The choice has been made and the IOC had chosen Tokyo as the Host city for the 2020 Olympics. I actually have lots of notes on the topic as I had originally intended to give my thoughts on who should be selected. But the more I looked, the more I realized that the choice was more one of the lesser of three evils than who was the best choice Read More...

The Status of US Track – Sprints

Sep 16th, 2013
10:12 am PST

The track season is over and cross country is under way.  So it's time to take a look back at 2013 while it's still fresh - because a lot happened this year.  So much so that I've started several different posts over the past week and each time decided that I really wanted to address something else! Topics I've considered have included Doping; College v Elite Track; The Structure of the Sport; and The predicament that Justin Gatlin Puts the Sport In, just to name a few Read More...

World Championships Review, Individuals Pt 2

Sep 5th, 2013
9:46 am PST

Time to finish up my thoughts on the individual performances from the World Championships. As this was not one of my favorite Worlds, for reasons already discussed, there were more performances that I was disappointed in than those I was ecstatic about. So many that as I started writing this I had to edit down to a reasonable number Read More...

World Championships Review–Individuals Pt1

Aug 27th, 2013
9:22 pm PST

Now for the fun part, looking at individual performances - and there were certainly some very good ones. First however, let's get a bit of perspective by taking a look at medal counts. The double digit medal earners: United States 25 total, 6 gold, 14 silver, 5 bronze. Russia 17 total, 7 gold, 4 silver, 6 bronze Kenya 12 total, 5 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze Ethiopia 10 total, 3 gold, 3 silver, 4 bronze As expected Russians performed well at home Read More...