“And it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it,” – Carol King, 1971
Really, does it make any difference anymore? After our nearly 30 years in the wilderness under Ollan Cassell ( he was Executive Director of the AAU 1970–1980, then Executive Director of USA Track and Field 1980–1997), the following ten years of triage under Craig Masback, and the recently completed two-year sideshow of Doug Logan, unless we discover that Dick Ebersol announced his resignation as head of NBC on May 19th in order to take the post as USATF CEO, would anyone outside Indianapolis even lift an ear bud for news of who’s next on the USATF Gong Show stage?
Honest, this sport is so far outside the mainstream of the American sporting consciousness, and USATF has its own head so far twisted up its bureaucratic ass, that to think anyone, even Mr. Ebersol, would be anything but insignificant as leader would be to believe Harold Camping’s five-month margin of error excuse for his May 21st rapture miscall.
So when word leaked out yesterday via Steve Miller, head of the USATF search committee to Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune, that USATF president Stephanie Hightower may, indeed, now be a candidate for the USATF CEO position, this after she spearheaded Logan’s firing – and after U.S. Olympic Committee head Scott Blackmun said last fall that the USOC would not look with favor at any CEO candidate coming from the current USATF board – some folks were chilled by the prospect. Some, I’m sure, were heartened. But even Mr. Blackmun should ask himself: how, exactly, would Ms. Hightower’s ascension have any impact – positive or negative – on the state of track and field in America?
This is a kerfuffle that should have taken place 20 years ago when we might still have had a chance to resurrect this once proud sport. Today, that time has passed. Nobody is paying attention. The world has moved on.
So if Stephanie wants to swing her power base from Columbus, Ohio to Indianapolis, Indiana, I say, give her as much rope as she wants. What have we or she got to lose? In spite of any public pronouncements, it’s pretty obvious that at least she wants the job, which is more than could be said for the Vin Lananna, associate athletic director at the University of Oregon, or Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners, the two most qualified candidates intelligent enough to stay away from the charnel house that is USATF headquarters.
People usually get what they deserve, anyway. So this might just be the perfect match after all.