Bob Hersh, photo from USATF Board of Directors bios
Stephanie Hightower, photo courtesy of USA Track & Field
Last night, after two days of thought and rewrites, I posted a piece on how I suggested that one read the Board of Directors' decision on replacing Bob Hersh with Stephanie Hightower. I am still not happy with my response, so here it goes, once again.
Today, I posted a piece, that I asked for, from Elliott Denman, a long time USATF observer and some who knows Hersh quite well. That piece was posted this morning around 10 AM EST.
My theme from last night was this: The Board of Directors will do whatever they think is in the best interest of the USA Track & Field. And that is why they are in place. They are not there to support what the USATF members think is best. This is not a democracy, even though many think it is or SHOULD BE. This is an informed oligarchy. Or, that is what is is supposed to be.
My beef is that if the Board wanted to replace Bob Hersh they should have done it with some pre vote discussion and some style to have avoided what will take up the next several months. I think that Stephanie Hightower could do quite well, but I feel that the treatment of Bob Hersh is untoward.
Most importantly, for a Board that wants us to think that they understand the inner workings of the IAAF and global sports culture, this was, well, a goof. Giving up the second most powerful position in the IAAF to start all over means that the Board actually believes that, once Lamine Diack retires, the world will come back rosey and peace, love and you know. The IAAF that I know looks curiously at the USA federation, trying to figure out, three times out of four, what the living hell that they are thinking.
The battle for the presidency of the IAAF is just starting. The recent allegations regarding the Diack family could truly complicate matters and even change the discourse over the next few months, from forward-looking to total damage control.
And the second most powerful person in the IAAF is an American. A man, who received more votes for Vice President than Seb Coe and Sergey Bubka, the definitive candidates for IAAF president, at this time. A man who is regarded, by many, outside of the US, with much respect.
The fact is, Stephanie Hightower might be just what is needed in the upcoming world of change in global athletics. I just expected the Board to show a bit more style, and not hide behind "well the rules justify this."
They may win the battle over Hightower, but the aggravation for this modus operandi will haunt their every move.
I have spent the most part of three decades learning about the global sport, developing relationships, and trying to overcome the notion that most Americans have the patience of inbred poodles (the dog). This current situation in North America is being observed with some consternation, I believe, from our friends abroad. That they are dealing with a little German TV mini-series, featuring streams of allegations is what has kept the USA brouhahah out of the major media sites.
I do not think that the TFAA nor the assembly at Anaheim had any clue that they could be over ruled. And that is, quite frankly, their fault.
I do, however, fault the Board, for not finding a way to avoid this battle. Of course, the Board knows, or should know more about the movements of the IAAF and global sport than the volunteers do. The federalization of the regional offices and now, the overturning of the floor vote, could provide the Board with an organized challenge, or, at least, a way to waste much energy.
The mountains of emails, twitter and energy used to discuss this vote ad nauseum could scare away future sponsors and current creative people who have the ability to change and improve our sport. Max Siegel, USATF's CEO, makes it quite clear that his job is to bring in money to provide resources for the sport. He has done that well, building from $19 to $35 million in revenues. It would be a shame if this floor fight causes any issues for Mr. Siegel.
And that is not good for the track business, which is not good for my business.
And that is when I get annoyed.
And, in case you wonder, I passed annoyed on Thursday.