So, here is what we know about Doug Logan so far. He is an experienced sports administrator. He has worked with sports that have some of the same issues as track & field. He has a self deprecating sense of humor, and his bi lingual upbringing, plus his dealings with international sports federations give him a fighting chance to build on the successes that USATF has had in the past decade.
Where we have not faired well is in dealing with the IAAF and having North America seriously considered (well, excuse me, everywhere in North America but US). We have taken shots, many well deserved on the games played with drugs by the US-mostly in seventies and eighties, but still the rest of the world has no clue of the athletic ability in one neighborhood in the US, because if they did, they would just run away scared.
The truth is, in most major cities and environs in the US, we have athletes who could participate in many Olympic teams around the world. These kids are naturally talented, but go to football, basketball, soccer and baseball. It is not drugs that makes these athletes world beaters, it is three meals a day, good coaching and the time to develop.
It has been in the past decade, after a decade of self recrimination, that American distance running became something to admire again, instead of something from the old days. In Beijing, we actually have half a dozen athletes from 800 meters to the marathon who have great chances to medal.
USATF has little or nothing to do with the 1.4 million high school kids in track and cross country. Most of those kids do not get past league finals, and they do not compete in USATF junior programs. Neither do the 30 million people who consider themselves runners, walkers or joggers in the US. And the 7 million race finishers last year, well, they are no really joiners. Just consider this, take the non duplicated circulation of Runners World and the Running Network, and you get about 1.2 million unduplicated runners who are interested enough in the sport to subscribe to a running magazine, either national or regional.
For Doug Logan to succeed, he is going to have to take those glass half fulls and make alliances. Get the numbers and the sponsors will spend more money. Give the sponsors and the USOC a clear, concise description of where USATF fits in the world of running, and how it governs youth running, masters running and contributes to club and road running, and you have a national plan.
Consider this--if USATF can bring the warring parties together, and convince the USOC that they can control their version of the Balkan wars, then Doug Logan has truly accomplished something.
The rumor mill was alive this summer. First it was the board of directors of USATF had no interest in a new CEO, then it was that the head hunter was suggesting only two candidates, then it was that those candidates were turned down, then it was that five more candidates were suggested, and then we heard than NONE of them were interviewed, then the Indystar.com named their pick for the new CEO and then Bill Roe announced that the new announcement was imminent.
When Doug Logan's name came up, it was a surprise to all but the board. He was not on anyone's short list or long list. But, his resume is impressive and if you listen to what he says in the interview below, and perhaps to what he suggests, you see an able administrator (needed), a veteran international sports negotiator (needed) and someone who knows how to walk into a boardroom with a couple of autographed Nike sweats and walk out with a new multi million dollar sponsor.
What waits to be seen is who he goes to advice for? Does he take the time to see who has been supporting the elite meets the past few years, from athletes, agents, media, sponsors and management? Does he get the straight scoop from his staff on what sponsors are happy and who are not? And how seriously does he take the USOC letter and how does he insure that problem is dealt with first priority?
Our sport, to succeed, must make some very painful changes. The changes in the structure that the USOC is demanding will change USATF to its very core. Many important people with important fiefdoms are not going to be happy. Change is painful, and Doug Logan, if he does his job well, will be hated by half of the current members at one time or another. This is the real world of global sports. It must be run like a business for it to be respected and for it to be a success. That does not mean that people do not matter, but that managing people, managing a big staff, knowing who ones friends and whose one enemies are takes the kind of person who realizes that managing a sports federation is big boy time.
Most of the global federations are as fed up with the imperial ego that the USOC exudes and the medal mania that NBC pushes in its 1300 hours of sports propaganda. The US has to learn to be a much more gentle winner and a classy looser as well. In track & field, we are going to be winning more medals, we need to do this with class and not give other countries another reason to think that the US is xenophobic cretins. No one else in the world understands Manifest Destiny ( check my reading suggestions at end of interview below).
Logan is a in a good place to do this. His upbringing, which I find fascinating, gives him something most kids in US do not have anymore-even second and third generation Latinos do not speak fluent Spanish. I found his explanation of his family culture almost as fascinating as his staunch feelings, well articulated, about drug cheats.
Doug Logan will be given the benefit of the doubt by the the crew who truly love the sport, make a living from the sport, and want the sport to grow larger for all. It is important that he reaches out and touches the community at large.