COE AND CLINTON IN A SIMILAR BOX

Bernie & The Donald

Bernie & The Donald make the charge

There is an interesting parallel between the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the ongoing drug and corruption scandal darkening the halls of the IAAF.

Though Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders stand on opposite sides of the political spectrum, both represent strong outsider positions suggesting the political system has been rigged by too close an association between politicians and business interests whose greenback contributions have compromised the pol’s allegiance to the constituents they were elected to represent.

Hillary feels the Bern

Hillary feels the Bern in New Hampshire

Last night at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the thrust of the Vermont senator’s critique centered on Secretary Clinton’s financial ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma.  Without disavowing the $675,000 she received for three speeches to Goldman Sachs, Clinton dismissed what she called Sander’s “artful smear”, declaring there was never a quid pro quo, nor had she ever changed a vote based on such financial considerations.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump has gained much of his political traction by harping, “I am self-funding my campaign,” inferring he wouldn’t be beholden to any of the special interest groups that largely fund his opponents (though his sizable wealth makes him something of a one-man special interest).

New IAAF President Sebastian Coe

New IAAF President Sebastian Coe

Within the ranks of the IAAF, new president Sebastian Coe has been roundly criticized for, among other things, not giving up a lucrative annual contract with Nike for being one of its brand ambassadors until pressured to do so in the wake of the scandal that has his predecessor Lamine Diack awaiting further visits from the French gendarmes on corruption and extortion charges.

In the WADA-funded Independent Commission report that followed Diack’s retirement, I.C. chair Dick Pound implicated not only Diack for his alleged crimes, but called out the entire IAAF Council, including Coe, for its willful disregard in allowing corruption to become so embedded in the organization.  But then, in a head-snapping move, Pound endorsed the two-time Olympic champion as the ideal man to oversee the necessary reforms. Blind man as watchdog, interesting concept. Continue reading

THE EQUALITY OF MAN

When we speak of the equality of man where does it reside? In our native dignity? In our compassion, or maybe our intellectual curiosity? How about in our universal stupidity and attitudes toward our fellow man?

Duck Dynasty

Duck Dynasty

The latter is everywhere you look. And the more you travel, the more you see it.  At least in America there is an obvious difference, black and white, Snoop Dog or Duck Dynasty?

Snoop Dog

Snoop Dog

But whether Jew versus Arab in the Middle East, Pole versus Russian in Europe (just to name one), Hutu versus Tutsi in Rwanda, Japan versus Korea (or anybody else) in Asia, you name it, the racial and ethnic discrimination of the world are truly the mark of man’s equal nature.

"You!".  "No, you!"

“He lies!”
“No, he does.”

Fearful, ignorant, unimpeachable, rollicking: To expect different is to run into the headwinds of our own making.

All men are created equal, alright, just not like we thought. It’s not up there, it’s down here.

Now get out here and harass somebody

END

COE ATTEMPTS TO WALK IAAF OFF THE LEDGE

IAAF President Sebastian Coe (Getty Image)

IAAF President Sebastian Coe (Getty Image)

And so it begins, the inevitable PR moon walk by the new IAAF president as he tries to draw back from the cliff of doom that revelations of corruption and greed have brought his organization to as 2015 bleeds into 2016.

Yesterday, IAAF president Sebastian Coe offered a road map for Rebuilding Trust in a press statement released from IAAF headquarters in Monaco. In it Coe commented: “Be under no illusion about how seriously I take these issues.”

Continue reading

STAR WARS & IAAF

Star Wars The Force Awakens Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (sub-head: “The Vault Opens”) smashed all box office records this past weekend.  Hopefully, that news might open the eyes of the leaders of the sport of athletics as they enter  2016 fresh on the heels of their worst year in recent memory – which is saying something.

Remember, it’s been a year starring institutional corruption and widespread drug charges that have drawn a dark cowl across the face of a once passably respected sport.

“The studios finally seem to be remembering, after years of over-reliance on visual effects, that moviegoers like a story,” Jeanine Basinger, a film studies professor at Wesleyan University told the New York Times for a piece that ran this past Sunday. “It can be a story we are familiar with. It can be a serialized story. But give us, please, we’re begging you, a story of some kind.”

Get it, IAAF? Stories are what move and engage people, not simply performances, which are track & field’s versions of special effects. Performances are great, but they should come in the service of a larger narrative. That means good guys and bad guys, high stakes and cliff-hangers, not an endless series of athletic exhibitions by athletes running around in shoe company gear that never add up to anything. Continue reading

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE?

2015

As the 2015 running year comes to its rather sad conclusion we find a sport existing, barely, on life-support, reeling from the toxic shock of massive internal corruption at the governance level, and widespread performance enhancing drug use at the sporting level.

But let’s not feel too aggrieved.  The self-inflicted wounds suffered by the sport of athletics in 2015 fit neatly into a world at-large now forced to come to terms with an apocalyptic nihilism that doesn’t share the basic assumptions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And without such common assumptions and goals mankind will never fully reconcile the fratricidal tendencies that have emerged and now play out with an increasingly alarming frequency in regions both near and far. Continue reading

STILL E PLURIBUS, BUT ARE WE LOSING THE UNUM?

E Pluribus UnumAs so often is the case, the very simple sport of running is an excellent prism through which to view life’s more complex problems. For life in all its saturated colored highs, depressing grays, and even coal-black lows can be found within the compressed world of long-distance foot racing.

The lesson, overall, is not to give in to the highs any more so than to the lows. Instead, one learns to soldier on, establishing intermediate goals that lead to more profound ones as the process itself becomes the primary directive.

Therefore, much like how individual track and field events merely share the same venue at a track meet, but don’t cohere into anything beyond that unless bound by a unifying intention (i.e. the NCAA Championship), so too are myriad Americans increasingly sharing this land of the Pilgrim’s Pride, but not its common values or cohering historic assumptions.

That is the backdrop that frames the argument du jour of whether to allow thousands of Syrian refugees to immigrate to the U.S. in the wake of the ISIS attacks in Paris last week. And it isn’t an argument that easily translates into precise lanes of right or wrong. Continue reading