Study shows damage done by competing June 6 SoCal meets
On June 6, masters tracksters were forced to choose between two high-quality events — a USATF association meet at Soka University in Orange County and another at Caltech in Pasadena. It wasn’t a win-win for anyone, according to a revealing study by Jim Hanley, assistant meet director of the Caltech meet — the California Senior Games. “Remember that on June 6, both meets had to pay steep costs of facilities, automatic timing systems and certified officials,” Jim writes. “By the way, officials were also spread very thin on June 6 with additional conflicts with the Fontana Days Road Race and Jim Bush Western Regional T&F Championship. The quantity and quality of officials in all of these events suffered. But in addition to financial matters and worries, both meets — and the athletes in particular — suffered from diluted competition.” Jim prepared this event-by-event analysis as well. Bottom line: Don’t let this happen again!
Here is Jim’s analysis:
Study Comparing Two Masters Meets of June 6, 2009
By Jim Hanley, Asst. Meet Director Calif. Senior Olympics
For over a year I have complained about the damage that would be done to both meets if the So. Calif. Association Masters Championships and the California Senior Olympics Championships would be held at the same time.
Unfortunately, because it is a multi-sport competition, Senior Olympic Director Cynthia Rosedale must set up all of her dates over a year in advance to secure facilities in sports like swimming, volleyball, golf, table tennis, soccer, tennis, archery, weight lifting, basketball, bicycle racing, and road racing
We all know how difficult it is to secure facilities for just a track meet. Imagine the logistical nightmare of coordinating the contracts, permits and facilities for 26 sports in a three week period in addition to a big track meet and opening and closing ceremonies. Athletes and staff also need to be able to participate in many sports with a minimum of conflicts. We simply had to have our meet on June 6. We made everyone well aware of that fact, and had it on the USATF calendar for over a year.
Despite the fact that it is a long-time, established (16 years) and an efficiently run meet with a good following and wonderful sponsors, other considerations were deemed more important than that this year. The Masters meet was scheduled not only on the same weekend, but on the same day.
Because the USATF Nationals in Oskosh, Wisconsin, came early, Mark Clearly felt that — in order to properly prepare athletes for the Nationals — he had to have his meet and the Western Regional meets on June 6 and June 21. We were able to help him somewhat by moving our long scheduled road race from June 21 to June 28, which was not an easy thing to do. There was a mountain of paperwork and permits to deal with.
Worse, we would now be up against “American Idol” auditions at the Rose Bowl, and the city of Pasadena did not want us anywhere near the south entrance to the Rose Bowl. To make everyone happy, I measured and mapped a completely new course with start and finish lines far away from the American Idol craziness. I think this clearly demonstrates that we are willing to bend and be flexible when we can.
We could not bend on June 6, and asked others not to schedule meets on that date. Some in the sport, did not believe Christel Donley when she spoke of the “high quality of track and field” in the Senior Olympic track meet.
Only after results from both
meets were made available on the internet, was I able to make a comparison of both meets and demonstrate what we have been talking about.
As the meets had different events in them, this could be a little like comparing apples to oranges. The SCA Masters Championships conducts events for 35- to 49-year-olds when Senior Olympic competition starts at age 50. Hurdles/Steeplechase
and Hammer/Weight are also solely conducted at that meet. Likewise, Senior Games competition includes nonstandard but popular events like the 50-meter dash, softball throw and very unique Grandparents Relay.
None of these events were included in my study. Only events on the scheduled program in both meets on June 6 were included.
Summary and conclusions
In the common events, Soka had 104 competitors and Caltech had 339. If you multiply the SCA Masters meet entry fee by 339, you can get a pretty good idea how much the Soka meet management lost in income.
Likewise, multiply the Caltech entry fee by 104 and you can see how much we lost.
Hopefully, both meets will be able to survive this financial hit and continue to exist. This has not always been the case in the past. I
know of three longtime, generous sponsors (Oceanside Parks & Recreation Dept., Pasadena Parks & Recreation Dept. and Indio Date Festival) that abruptly dropped their support after similar conflicts resulted in low turnouts and financial losses.
Remember that on June 6, both meets had to pay steep costs of facilities, automatic timing systems and certified officials. By the way, officials were also spread very
thin on June 6 with additional conflicts with the Fontana Days Road Race and Jim Bush Western Regional T&F Championship. The quantity and quality of officials in all of these events suffered.
But in addition to financial matters and worries, both meets — and the athletes in particular — suffered from diluted competition.
On my spreadsheet, yellow highlighting indicates when one meet or another had an edge. In 21 event divisions, Soka had more competitors, but in 124 divisions Caltech had the edge in participation.
Likewise, when the best mark in each division is examined, Soka was supreme in 41 divisions to Caltech’s 113.
This clearly supports Christel’s assertion that the quality of competition in our Senior Olympic meets is quite high.
In conclusion, by scrolling through the events one can see that both meets were hurt. The saddest thing is that athletes were put in a position of having to choose one meet or the other. They also got one less quality meet in which to participate in throughout their season — and one less quality meet in which to prepare for upcoming national championships.
Both meets were conducted by good people who are totally dedicated to our sport. Both meet directors — Mark Cleary and Christel Donley — always do a great job, and they deserve thanks and appreciation for what they do for the sport; but we should never again experience what happened to them and the masters athletes on June 6, 2009.