Doug Logan is an eloquent writer. While his five minute interview at the Millrose Games was good for the sport, I did not feel that it gave the viewer a chance to see Logan as many of us in the sport are coming to see him-someone who is trying to change the sport, one speech at a time….
Running USA is our sports attempt to have a trade association. While I have supported the organization for several years, my concern was that Running USA has gone in several different directions, and quite frankly, is just beginning to figure out where and who it should be.
Our sport has a federation, and while, as Doug Logon so honestly portrayed it in his Wednesday speech at Running USA (http://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/ShinSplintsBlog/), the federation had not done its job in reference to road running in the past years, that will no longer be the case.
What the sport needs is a trade organization where media, athletes, agents, events, running stores can meet, exchange ideas and work on big picture items. That is where, I believe, Running USA needs to go, but, quite frankly, has not. Running USA should look to the Running Event and IRRA-Independent Running Retail Association on how to develop a strong presence and bring disparate groups together. I was very happy to see Formula 4 Media, the company behind the Running Event, and representatives of IRRA developing a fine panel on how sponsorships can work with retailers, sponsors and events. It was an excellent session.
Running USA was a huge success this year, however, word is out that there is some dissension on the board about where Running USA should direct its efforts. Running USA has an excellent board, with former RW publisher Andy Hersham, Allen Steinfeld, Fred Finke, Mary Wittenberg and now Doug Logan, among others. I believe that this team can help steer the organization into a more transparent role in our sport, which would be better not only for the sport but also for the business of running. ( Susan Weeks, the CEO of Running USA has agreed to an interview in the upcoming weeks. )
For Running USA to succeed, the CEO must have a clear set of goals and directions from the board. Without that, Running USA is destined to make attempts that are well meaning, but unsuccessful in our community. We can not afford for Running USA to fail.
Logan’s speech was significant because he made it clear that both he and Stephanie Hightower, the new President of the USATF, both consider the rapprochement with road running as a high priority with USATF. Doug Logan also did something else: he recognized the hard work of Jim Estes, who was given the road running championships to develop, with very little assistance and recognition in the past. From Logan’s comments, it seems that will change.
Our sport will be challenged more in this environment than in past years! I can tell you, from my daily experience in marketing our RN publications and websites, that companies are quite concerned with the economic slump. The more professional we, as a sport behave, the more visible our sport is and the more we continue, in this current economy, to promote and enhance the grass roots running community, the stronger our sport will be.
After three weekends of indoor track meets, trade groups and trade shows, it is clear that our sport is under attack, just like all others. Marketers are squeamish and will use the economic downturn, even though brands are showing strong growth ( Brooks, PUMA and Saucony come to mind), and brands are launching new products ( Ecco, KSwiss, Under Armour) in this environment. We are expected to do more with less. Sometimes that can happen, sometimes that cannot.
Doug Logan has a real opportunity here. He is cheerleader for the sport, and as long as his team can follow his direction, and he reaches out to the business side and media side of our sport, he will find that many will support his positive message. Our sport needs it.
To read Logan’s blog, please checkhttp://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/ShinSplintsBlog/).
For more on our sport, click http://www.american-trackandfield.com
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