TRACK ATHLETES IN SEARCH OF ALAN LADD

I just finished watching an undistinguished 1957 horse opera called The Big Land starring Alan Ladd and Virginia Mayo on Turner Classic Movies.  (It’s a low-key Saturday).  The movie tells the story of a group of farmers in post-Civil War Kansas teaming up with some Texas cattlemen bringing their herds north as together they hope to create a large and diverse enough new market to convince the Kansas Pacific Railroad to build a spur off its Kansas City line to handle the new town’s business.

It’s a good strategy, but also a major threat to a sinister Missouri cattle buyer who holds a monopoly on the current market and tightly controls the prices paid to the Texas ranchers.  So when the new town begins to get built and another group of cattle buyers are brought in to bid on the herds about to arrive, the ruthless Missouri buyer rides in a gang of hired guns to intimidate the town folk and the new buyers.

Without any law enforcement in the new town the hired guns kill one of the Chicago buyers and also Edmond O’Brien, Alan Ladd’s business partner and the town father.  The cattle buyers from Omaha, Chicago and Cincinnati are properly cowed and prepare to flee, meaning the demise of the new enterprise.  Not until Aland Ladd returns from Texas with his herd to face down the bad guys does he get the girl, and give the new town its chance for a prosperous future. It’s the Wild West in all its 1950s Hollywood Technicolor re-creation.

We might as well be talking about the modern day sport of track and field, minus the Alan Ladd character. Continue reading

USATF ANNOUNCES FORMER BOARD MEMBER AS NEW CEO

Max Siegel, new USATF CEO

In a move that comes as no surprise, USA Track & Field announced today that its board of directors has selected 47 year-old Indianapolis native Max Siegel, a marketing executive with ties to the sports and music industries – and former USATF board member  – to serve as its new CEO.  USATF has been operating without a full-time CEO since the board dismissed Doug Logan in September 2010 after a rocky two years at the helm.  Chief Operating Officer Mike McNees had been serving as interim CEO.

Mr. Siegel becomes the fourth chief executive in the organization’s history following Ollan Cassell (1980-1996), Craig Masback (1997-2008), and Doug Logan (2008-2010). He will assume his duties on May 1st under a two-year contract reportedly valued at $500,000 per year with performance bonuses.

Since USATF announced last month that it intended to hire a new CEO before the June track & field trials in Eugene, Oregon – thus ending a protracted 16-month interregnum – many long-time observers of the sport surmised the selection would come from within the USATF family. And since Mr. Siegel had been a USATF board member (2009-2011) whose firm was hired last October to oversee the USATF marketing effort going into the summer Olympics, he was widely expected to be named to the CEO position. Continue reading

TOO LATE

“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.                   Continue reading