USA athletes in Lahti draft resolution on Senior Games ties

Anselm LeBourne, who organized and led a meeting with U.S. athletes in Lahti, has sent the following note to participants: “I want to thank you all for attending the meeting at the World Masters Championships. I want to say a special thank you to Latricia Dendy for doing all the typing of the information and to Becky Sisley for drafting the athletes resolution. . . . Please carefully review the information attached especially the 5 significant issues that we agreed on for Robert Thomas to take to certain individuals at the USATF. If you want to make any additions or deletions please do so and return to me. We have to decide how we are going to get the signatures to the petition (5 significant issues). (If) anyone (would) like to do this, please let me know. If you know of any masters athlete who are not part of this masters movement, please send me their name and email address and I will add them to the list.” Anselm might try the online petition service I used for talking about the records process.

Here’s the resolution being circulated:

Whereas USATF masters athletes want more opportunities for competition;
Whereas USATF masters athletes want to encourage increased membership in USATF,which is a component of the Masters Track & Field Strategic Plan; and
Whereas USATF masters athletes want to support fitness and health of older adults through participation in athletics;
Be it resolved that the USATF Masters chair appoint a knowledgeable and reliable person to the position of National Senior Games Association (NSGA) liaison specifically for the purpose of negotiating dates for national championships and to promote and maintain effective communication between the USATF and the NSGA.
Approved, August 5, 2009 Lahti, Finland
prepared by Becky Sisley
MTF Active Athletes Rep
MTF Executive Committee

Here’s a summary of the meeting, as sent by Anselm:

1. We need to ask the USATF for free uniforms and if that does not work then we can ask for 50% off uniforms. We need to decide who gets the free uniform or the 50% (E.g. only athletes that finish in the top three at Nationals and are attending the World Championships are eligible for the free uniform or the 50% of).

2. Work with the USATF travel department to block one hotel for the World Masters Championships so we can get better rates and be mainly located at one hotel.

3. Stipend for athletes that finish in the top three at Nationals and are attending the World Championships to encourage more participation in the National Championships (How are we going to raise funds to accomplish this?).

4. There are 87 Masters Associations. ?????????

5. Masters chairs are appointed by the President of the association. ?????

6. Masters Regional coordinators, one for each region {what are the regions?}. Need to know who your regional coordinator is and talk to him or her about the happenings in your region.

7. Masters website separate from USA track & field …$5000 is budgeted for the website.

8. USATF pays for two managers to go to the World Championships (exactly what is paid for)

9. Long distance running has one chair. ?????????

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August 11, 2009

6 Responses

  1. Ed Italo - August 11, 2009

    Great work. I’ve long felt that USATF could do a much better job in
    organization and promotion. I have no doubt that this effort would help attract former high school, collegiate and elite athletes, who might consider wading back into the water if they knew we existed and saw how well run we could be. If you need help, count me in.

  2. David E. Ortman (M56) Seattle, WA - August 11, 2009

    Any communication between USAT&F and NSG would be an improvement.
    For 2011:
    National Senior Games – Houston June 19 – July 5.
    WMA – Sacramento July 6-17.
    For 2013:
    National Senior Games – Cleveland July ??
    WMA – Brazil – July 24-Aug 4
    So long as NSG and WMA both insist on holding their championships in odd number years, it is doubtful that more than a handful of masters (senior) athletes will be able to participate in both.
    A more disturbing problem with the National Senior Games is whether they have the best interests of masters (senior) athletes at heart. Here is final NSG 2009 schedule in Palo Alto for M55 100m, 200m, and 400m. Within the space of four hours and during the hottest time of the day:
    M55-59 – August 10th
    1:15 PM 200m (60) Quarters
    2:40 PM 400m (16) Semi
    3:25 PM 100m (8) FINALS
    4:25 PM 200m (16) Semi
    5:20 PM 400m (8) FINALS
    This is not an acceptable schedule for a high school, college or open meet. After a 400m, 2x200m and a 100m, how does NSG expect masters (senior) sprinters to run a 400m Final all in the same afternoon?
    This insane schedule was the deciding factor in withdrawing from this meet.

  3. Cindy Lea Arbelbide - August 11, 2009

    Got to admire the spunk. Just some additional talking points to add to your checklist of things to consider:
    #1. Free Uniforms or 50% off and #3 Stipends. This is to include BOTH Indoor and Outdoor World Championships? Place in the top three in National Indoors and/or Outdoors to secure a price break on uniforms and/or a stipend? (Next World Indoors in in Kamloops, Canada in 2010.)
    This would also include placing at all outdoor National Championships of Decathlon, Heptathlon, Throwing Pentathlon, etc? But when these National Meets occur after the Worlds – that throws a wrench into things.
    Is the goal to assist the athletes with the best marks of the year to make it to worlds – or just those who could make it to a National Championship meet – Indoors or Outdoors?
    Making attendance at a USATF National Indoor or Outdoor Championship for a chance at a stipend puts another economic layer on the costs involved.
    Did anyone at this Lahti meeting ask the less decorated USA athletes to attend? Those athletes whose marks may be well out of the medal standings but desired to go anyway? What were their responses to these themes?
    State Games of America (August 4-7, 2011 San Diego and bidding underway for 2013) and National Senior Games schedule years ahead. How does USATF adjust when the mindset exists to rescheduled such as this years Outdoors shuffle from Florida to Wisconsin? Can USATF commit long term to meet dates and sites?
    How far in advanced does World and World Masters Games schedule their dates and sites?
    Then there is the scheduling of the North American, Caribbean, Central America Championships every two years. Those regional dates and sites for 2010 have yet to be announced.

  4. Ken Stone - August 11, 2009

    The Sacramento WMA world meet will be July 6-17, 2011. Evening races are being considered to avoid the worst of the Central California heat (near 100 many days).
    The Porto Alegre, Brazil, WMA world meet is proposed for July 24-Aug. 4, 2013.
    According to a presentation by the Porto Alegre reps at the Lahti General Assembly, the expected high temperatures in 2013 are 6 degrees to 20 degrees Celsius (43 to 68 Fahrenheit).
    Bring your jacket.

  5. Andrew Hecker - August 11, 2009

    Becky writes a well crafted proposal–that’s how this stuff has to look. Regarding Anselm’s points, I’ve got to comment on a lot of this stuff. While I have years of cynicism packed in here, I’m glad Anselm and the others are seeing a need to get their hands dirty. The more voices are heard, the sooner some change might happen. Status quo certainly won’t move mountains without input.
    1. and 3. Involves money. Somebody needs to figure out a way to pay for this “stipend” (in the form of free or discounted uniforms) or any other financial related benefits to our more elite of athletes.
    The money is why a lot of this stuff exists. Nike designed and owns the exclusive rights to market the National Logo and National Uniform. The change from that triangle logo was not based on the old logo being ugly or irrelevant, it was simply an artificial method for Nike to make more money selling us more crap with a new logo. Giving discounted uniforms to superior athletes will cut into either Nike profits or USATF funds.
    Add in 2. The reason many of these venues for our Championships exist is not for the stature the host country feels for inviting the world to their community. Its the money, your tourist dollars. If they had enough people keeping their hotel rooms full without bringing in an extra few thousand old athletes, do you think they would want us? Now that they have us coming, do you think there is any way they would want to find discounts for you to be there? The answer is no. This is their profit from years of planning. If their normal room rate were, say, $100 on a normal night when nobody wants to stay there, then its got to be at least $200 when they have created an artificial demand for that room (your need to attend the World Championships). If they offer a group discount to book more rooms, they might go down to $175. Watch the same things at Conventions–our USATF Conventions are frequently in what I call “Convention Traps” where there isn’t a cheap room to be had within a reasonable distance. We know you have to be here, so pay the taxi, rent a car (which you must pay us to park) or pay our “Convention” rate. Our USATF National Championships are held in out of the way locations that need our tourist dollars, frequently hosted by an organization that is supported by the Hotels or Convention and Visitors Bureau. Examples I know about include: San Jose, Orlando and Sacramento.
    For USATF to interfere with that dynamic would not only be only marginally successful, but it would go against their nature.
    4. and 5. There are, in fact, 57 Masters Associations–that is defined by the USATF Bylaws (available at This is a formal system (that we do not have enough influence to change) that dissects the country into the chaos that obviously few of the participants can understand.
    Your local quality may vary. Each association runs things their own way. Some have Masters involved in their leadership, some have strong Masters Committees or just an active, motivated Masters Chairman. Far too many have nothing; Weak Associations, Associations that do not consider Masters (or anything that is not Youth or Road Running) important, or Associations that simply do not have anybody willing to get up off their butt and do something.
    Some Associations “democratically” elect their Masters Chairman, some appoint that position out of the limited number of volunteers willing to do anything at the “board” administrative level, some just appoint a representative to attend the National Meeting to give them an excuse for the funding–in other words YOUR representation is a “throw away” to them. Too many Associations don’t have ANY interest–as few as one person does everything for that Association as a whole, is over-worked, under-paid and just doesn’t have time to deal with everything, much less that wide a range of skillsets.
    Most members don’t know how these things work. Fewer (less than 1%) participate. If you ever want to see a convoluted election process, attend a USATF election on any level. Its mandated by the By-Laws. If you want to change things (you probably can’t, but) I invite you, I implore you to please show up at your Association’s General Meeting. Each Association must have a General Meeting annually. Check the website, ask questions and show up.
    6. Masters Regional Coordinators are for the most part (I only know of one exception) are not elected, they are appointees. The regions are again an offshoot of those convoluted associations.
    7. Oh, don’t get me started–but you have. As the first person appointed to the Website Oversight Committee back in 1999, I have personally been trying to get this to happen for ten years. Dave Clingan has been on the project for an equal amount of time and if you ever do see it on-line you can credit his heroic amount of work. The absence of results speak for themselves. Privately I have written reams (you can see I am known for my brevity) to break through the roadblocks we have encountered within USATF. We were ready to take our own Masters T&F website on-line in February 2000!!! It should exist now, it should have existed then. I would much rather be in our tenth year of tweaking it to make it better, rather than waiting to see it go public. We are still trying.

  6. Vance - August 27, 2009

    Listen to Ed Italo and David Ortman and Cindy. They are about reducing conflicts, intelligent meets, and user friendly access. That is what gets members who pay money to support this game. Now for me>
    What I have read here reminds me of the sophomore protests in college. There are good points and ludicrous, self-serving points to the above dialog but first I must ask, how many of you have ever run a business?
    On the name of a coalition. Jeez, I cannot believe it. If you want members, scrap coalitions and the 5-47 letter acronyms. Love those initials. Get a tee-shirt with USATF or MMTFSOGRCD and it sounds like codes for a top secret aircraft carrier mission. Top secret doesn’t get members; coalitions remind me of unions. Sell track and field. Represent track and field – name it Track and Field – Masters and use your presentation/outreach skills and preparation to WOW the big shots in Indy.
    On the proposed amendments to the US constitution listed above by Anselm and Becky, here are some thoughts and some frank opinions (I should have never hung around Bill Bowerman):
    1. More competitions. No brainer. Make it mandatory that associations put on X number of meets. there are no meets in the Dakotas so athletes go to NSG and beat the crap out of long standing USATF big shots. They have no options so they do NSGA which is in every town. Meets here=members=money.
    2. Increase membership. This must be Econ 201 world of no taxes and transactions costs. USATF is a case study in marketing inefficiency and part of it is excessive rules, territorial selfishness, and too many amateur politicians. Give Associations incentive $ for new members.
    The presentation to USATF should be meets in cities easier to get to. Past practice has been to set competitions in places requiring a flight +commuter flight+drive=very pricey and time consuming. Businesses put offices where there are direct flights. Go figure. Also give existing members free membership for every 10 new members they can sign up. Hell, you can go through TSA at the airport with a discus and get that many signups just from the inspectors who ‘remember the day”!!
    3. Get NSGA involved. Why? They are competitors and should suck up to us – Humana makes huge dollars from this and they are a money machine. I will bet they make more profit from the Palo Alto meet than USATF makes in annual revenues. Atually I Know the answer to that. Ignore NSGA and do something better. Choose nice cities, not Oreno with no espresso stands or internet or reasonable commute. Do Seattle, Minneapolis, Pittsburg, Atlanta (go Buckhead), SAN DIEGO – yes Ken why with your influence are they not a player? Here is the issue. Ansel is from Indy – where are the championship meets. Ken- where are they? Others? Why can’t a meet be held at Penn, home of the big relays or Des Moines or Austin? Or Nashville? these are all attractive places to travel to, just like Palo Alto, and the people will come.
    4. Free or half-off uniforms. Talk about sel-serving. Half off for all is great but not for top 3. In mens, you can be 4th in US and 4th in the world. In some women’s events you can sign up and be a top 3 just by showing up. If there is a qualifier, make it meeting the all-america standard. This has self-serving all over it.
    Why is it that T&F in the US is the only sport in the world that only gives us access to 4-8 year old uniforms. The NL, AL, NBA, NCAA, NFL, and Hooters would be out of business with that model. This is something I find particularly offensive and it communicates an arrogance above all other sports. And the general public doesn’t even recognize them!! Current uniforms and reasonable prices.
    5. USATF travel getting a block of rooms. Good idea but for the meager savings, getting in competition with locals who are connected to organizers is, perhaps, not best use of time and may just piss them off.
    6. Stipend for athletes. See item 4. Prise money for some is okay. Sort of like the $1 bet in Trading Places, it is the thrill of the hunt. However, this would be guaranteed money for some and frankly, a very discriminatory practice and one that contradicts the concept of lifelong fitness. It would be the same people over and over, reaping this reward. It escapes me that anyone would have the nerve to suggest this concept. Self-serving, Nah.
    7. 87 Associations. Too many and too more need carry the weight for being active and aggressive in X number of meets. Gosh, what if all Association meets were in one of two weekends? Further, an Association should be required to bid on a regional every X years and a national every Y years.
    8. Regional Coordinators. More politics. Did I recall a move at the last convention for fewer?
    9. Masters Website-separate. No. Think about it. What gives masters track credibility is its affiliation with USATF and the elite athletes. Why would any governing body give any other deals, e.g., uniforms, travel, etc., if you are separate? Trust me – separate website, separate organization, and separate overhead for maintaining the site. It seems that Randy Sturgeon and Ken Stone, do a pretty darn good job of bridging the gap.
    10. Two managers at world’s. Whatever. Pick battles that count, not this nebulous crap. You can always find a volunteer.
    11. Long distance has one chair. Not many long distance people show up at nationals, so what is the issue. They to me, have a disproportionately low number of attendees at big meets. How about “no’ chair?
    In business, there is a saying “you get more bears with honey than vinegar”. What I have read is vinegar. Go after USATF with professional acumen and value-added proposals.
    I have said my peace. USATF masters, what a great group of people.

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