Recently by Jeff Benjamin
Matt Fitzgerald writes compelling books on high performance athletics. His ability to weave the anecdotal and scientific is one of his finest qualities. In this review, by Jeff Benjamin, our long time correspondent from Staten Island, we learn about Mr. Fitzgerald's newest tome, "How Bad Do You Want it?".
The Air Max Con NYC took place a few weeks ago. Jeff Benjamin and his daughter, Brianna Benjamin, visited this salute to all things Air Max.
My first experience with the Air Max was at Boston in 1987. Keith Peters, the long time Nike Pr Manager, provided me with a pair, as Nike was launching the product. I still have my first pair of Air Max's stored away along with Mariahs, and my 1975 Nike Waffle racers.
Here is Jeff's story...
Frank Gagliano is a man among men. His assistant coach, John Trautmann, a supremely talented athlete, was haunted by injuries during his top competitive years, but has come back to enjoy his own running and coach another generation of fine athletes.
Gags is a special man, and those who are coached or influenced by him, know that love and understand the responsibility of giving one's best.
Jeff Benjamin, one of my long suffering writers, wrote this piece about Millrose time (mid February). In my own way, and own time, I am publishing this piece in March.
Jeff Benjamin and I are kindred spirits. That is why Jeff has put up with me for the past three decades. That, and that we both love our sport and have an immense appreciation for history.
Jeff wrote the following review of the move, "Race". But his piece is also a thoughtful reminder of how important understanding history is in everyday life.
Jesse Owens was a man of some complication. Anyone who lives over the age of 40 has some complication in their life. Successes and Failures. One learns more from the failures, but they are hellacious to surive. Raised in a time in this country when racism was even more outright than it is now, Owens juggled mine fields each and every day. In the 1936 Olympics, Owens did challenge the Nazi philosophy of Aryan superiority, but so did the performances of twelve other fine African-American athletes. Avery Brundage, the USOC head was, at the very least, an admirer of the Nazi regime, and at the worst, shares a place in hell where the worst hypocrites are housed. Brundage did change the 4x100m team, taking off two fine American sprinters, due to the fact that they were Jewish.
Brundage was credited with standing up to Hitler and the Nazis. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was Henri de Baillet-Latour, IOC President (1925-1942), who threatened Hilter with moving the Olympics due to the Nazi treatment of Jews and Gays in particular. Baillet-Latour was a tough gentleman who knew that Hilter saw the Olympics as legitimazation for his regime. He has never, in my mind, recieved the respect he deserved.
Jim Crow laws were in effect in the 1930s. Heck, they were in effect in the 1950s. Separate facilities for African-Americans, and whites. Jesse Owens might be a global sports hero, but upon his return to the U.S., he was treated second class, like most of his African-American brothers and sisters. It is not pretty, but it is a fact. I wonder how the late Jesse Owens would look on the terrible things that happened in Ferguson, Missouri last year. I am not sure how much has changed in much of this country.
To me, that is one of the wonders of track & field. The most diverse sport in high schools in North America, one learns how to work with others. If one makes a relay team, those members become your brothers and sisters. After running a 4x100m or a 4x400m, racism becomes quite antiquated and quite sad. The truth was, Adolf Hilter feared America because of our diversity, he referred to Americans as a "mixed horde". Think about that for a moment.
One wonders how Jesse Owens differentiated the Nazi philosophies of Aryan superiority over the American mixed race, as the Nazi's called them, and how he was treated upon his return to the US. I do not know. This would be one of the many questions I would like to ask him.
I do recall an interview with the mother of Carl Lewis, who told me about her experiences as an African-American women athlete in the 1950s in Ohio. The hotels for African-American athletes were of lesser quality than for white athletes and it was disconcerting for her.
I hope that many see the movie. I think, overall, there are some good things for young kids to see in the movie. Leni Reifensthal, the Nazi movie director, used her charm and grace to make movies, with the support of Josef Goebbels and admiration of Adolf Hilter. Whether she was a Nazi or not went to her grave with her. "Triumph of the Will" a movie that celebrates the Nazi Nurnberg rallies is a must see for history and movie fans, as is her 1936 Olympic movie. Judging whether they are evil personified is up to the viewer.
It is a fact, that in December 1941, 71 percent of Americans supported the America First movement, head by the late Charles Lindbergh. This group was convinced that we should stay out of the coming World War, due to the supposed strenght of the Nazi military, thanks to the propaganda efforts and schmoozing of Herr Goebbels, a man who understood good PR. Did Goebbels and Hitler pressure Brundage into changing the 4x100m relay at the last minute? Again, study the times, and decide for yourself.
The movie should be seen in the context it was made: a story trying to capture the man, Jesse Owens, and the times. Did they do that?
Again, dear reader, that is up to the viewer!
Enjoy Jeff Benjamin's review.
Left to right-- Jeff Benjamin, Race Director Matt Lebow, and Michael Schnall, NYRR's Vice President for Community Engagement Initiatives.(Photo Courtesy of King of the Mountain Events)
This is a piece that Jeff Benajmin wrote for us on the quandaries of chip timing. It is a good and thoughtful read.
The 2016 Millrose Games was the finest that I have seen in the Armory. It is also a story about a meet reborn. Many of us, including me, wanted to keep an event in Madison Square Gardens, but it was not to be.
Take Dr. Norb Sanders, Ray Flynn and Brad Yewer, among others, mix in the support of the NYRR's Mike Capiraso and Peter Ciaccia, and you have the vision, the workers and the money to support to make the Millrose what is should be, a celebration of all things indoor!
Here is Jeff Benjamin's fine piece on the Millrose!
The Millrose Press Conference is one of my favorite pressers of the year. Unfortunately, I needed a couple of days home before I headed back on the road for the Millrose Games. I handed over the presser coverage to our good friend, Jeff Benjamin.
Here is Jeff's comments (and photograph) on the Millrose Press Conference, so nicely done by Ian Brooks! See you at the Armory on Saturday.