Michelle Carter, bronze medalist, 2015 WC shot put, photo by PhotoRun.net
This piece was written by Elliot Denman on the financial improvements in 2015 for USA Track & Field, many which are never recognized. Elliott Denman, a long time observer of our sport, also notes that just like we need to recognize the progress, we need to note where we need to improve our focus.
Usatf annual meeting opening 2015…
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
HOUSTON – Once drowning in red ink, the national governing body for the flagship sport of the Olympic Games now basks in a sea of prosperity.
USA Track and Field’s net worth is pushing into the territory of twenty million dollars.
Its annual budget is heading north of 35 million dollars.
“Everything is coming up roses,” could easily have been the subtitle of CEO Max Siegel’s opening-session remarks as USATF’s Annual Meeting, four days of meetings, huddles, strategy sessions and key decision-making, kicked off at the Imperial Ballroom of Houston’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Flush in greenbacks – thanks chiefly to the shrewd partnering contracts agreed to by Siegel & Co., and buoyed by a 20-year Nike deal that, kicking in in 2017, will bring in some $500 million in increments spread over 20 years – USATF at last is beginning to look like a professional sports organization.
Alas, for the moment, a minor league one.
Compared with the numbers it started with, its current figures seem silvery, even golden.
Yet they’re nowhere close to the figures the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, even major league soccer, get to play with. They’re still like a raindrop in a thunder shower, a grain of sand in a vast desert.
But at least they are out there, they are indeed something, and they are a whole lot better than nothing, thus enabling USATF to do all kinds of progressive things.
** Guaranteeing the nation’s finest trackpeople do not face poverty and privation en route to the training tracks they hope will lead to the podiums of the World Championships and Olympic Games. A World Champion or Olympic gold medal could easily translate to a $125,000 paycheck for the year from his/her governing body. All, of course, on top of the much bigger dough the athlete may be able to garner from personal sponsorship deals, prize money and other rewards.
** Assuring that Team USA continues doing all in its power to retain status as “the World’s Number One Track and Field Team,” all in the face of an increasingly competitive world scene where former Third World teams become primary challengers for top places on the global charts.
** Assuring that USA Track and Field continues making the huge strides that will see it play host to such major undertakings as IAAF’s World Indoor Championships in Portland in March 2016, and the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Eugene in 2021.
(Which, in turn, could spur the move to return of Summer Olympic Games to this nation, Los Angeles in 2024 to be precise, for the first time since Atlanta in 1996.)
** Maybe, best of all, help USATF, as an organization, and Team USA, and its athletes, keep above the fray at a time and place in the sport’s history that has never, ever been more troubled and tumultuous. All that recent bribery, all that chicanery, all that dastardly behavior, primarily involve “others.” And not “us.” Thus far, anyway. Let us hope it stays that way.
When the funds-to-the-athletes plan was first announced, four-time World
long jump champion Dwight Phillips, chair of USATF’s Athletes Advisory Committee (the AAC), called it “a monumental day.”
To National Team 1500-meter star Will Leer, “you know, this isn’t blowing smoke; we actually got together and got something done; we came up with something I think the athletes are going to be very happy about. You can’t please everyone, obviously, but this is an enormous step forward in the professionalization of our sport.”
The one big thing USATF needs to do – as it has forever known – is grow its base.
Even though it runs probably the most universal of all American athletic activities, USATF’s membership list is barely over 100,000, a relative drop in the bucket.
US Soccer has at least three and a half million members.
The US Tennis Association has over 700,000 enrollees.
USA Swimming’s lineup is beyond 300,000-member strong.
But USATF’s population continues to languish far behind its Olympic-sport colleagues.
“Hey, we’ve got to do better,” is Siegel’s ongoing refrain.
And that’s the truth, the whole truth the national governing must continue
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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