Hold medal ceremonies at masters nationals? Most efficient way?

World-class W45 sprinter Emma McGowan posed a question on the USATF Masters Facebook page that deserves attention: “Who thinks it would be a great idea to have a podium ceremony at all indoor and outdoor Masters Championships? Great suggestion or not?” My reaction: “Many meets schedule awards ceremonies near the track, but not stopping competition. The problem is herding cats. It’s hard enough to find ways to allow all athletes to enter multiple events. Adding ceremonies — when athletes may already be competing — is a logistical nightmare. Having ceremonies after completion of all events is an option, but has its own downsides.” What’s your take? In any case, entries are now being accepted for 2018 Landover indoor nationals, which is becoming part of a regular rotation for our prime undercover meet. Here’s Emma, no stranger to podiums:

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September 20, 2017

14 Responses

  1. Anthony Treacher - September 21, 2017

    Every national championships should hold podium ceremonies for each event, in principle:
    1. Beside the track. Not inside, otherwise medalists crossing over the lanes to get inside will delay events.
    2. Within a half hour/hour after the event to catch medal winners while they are still around.
    3. Simple as possible to save time; no fanfares, gimmicks, speeches.

  2. tb - September 21, 2017

    That’s up to fourteen times as many ceremonies as at a real meet.

  3. Mike Travers - September 21, 2017

    I believe that results are not “final” until 30 minutes after the completion of the event. This delay allows for any protests to be heard. All prescribed in the USATF rulebook. Such delays would make it difficult to herd the medal winners since athletes tend to scatter after races.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.


  4. wayne bennett - September 21, 2017

    I thought Albuquerque handled this very well for those wanting pictures on a podium. For most of us, it’s no big deal and not needed. What most of us want is quick results, pick up our medal and get to the hotel or the airport. The crowd? saw us perform and never gets to see medal presentations anyway.

  5. Don Drummond - September 21, 2017

    No Thanks. More of a hassle than just picking up medal and getting ready for next event. They do leave up podium for you to take pictures and do what you like.

  6. Peter L. Taylor - September 21, 2017

    I think this is a fairly small issue. Big issue will be accommodating what may well be a record crowd in Landover in March 2018. As I recall, Landover 2013 has the record for indoor entries at either 1043 or 1044.

    I was stunned that entries for Landover 2018 are already being accepted; in fact, I just counted 8. I now predict 1070 for this meet, but how can we make all the athletes feel that they are a part of this very special event?

    I understand that Baton Rouge 2017 had two announcers for all 4 days; did they cover that meet well? Did they make the entrants feel that they were very much part of the celebration? I don’t know, as I was in Fairfax, Virginia, during the meet.

  7. Jeff Mann - September 21, 2017

    My volunteer job is helping to seed, time & score high school meets, including the NV State meet every other year. State is 4 divisions, boys & girls, so 144 total events. A lot, but nowhere near the number in a Masters meet.

    We announce results from the pressbox and present awards in the infield (runners sent directly there from the finish line) almost immediately after the race concludes. In an 8 person final we can have results evaluated and ready to announce in under 1 minute, if not faster, unless there’s some really close contests (to the 000). Occasionally results change after a protest, but not often, so that’s not a big issue – coaches deal with getting medals corrected.

    BUT, during the sprints we get stacked up with completed events because we run them at 5 min intervals. We also get stacked up when field event results come in. The problem is finding the time to announce the race lineup for the next race and results of the previous race without delaying the schedule. During multi-lap races, we announce results during the race, but then we don’t “call” the race either while they’re going on.

    At the HS level it’s important to have a medal ceremony. But at the Masters level, not so much.
    If we want that in the stadium, then the schedule will need to have time allotted in order to announce the results and not interfere with the race announcing, and not delay events. I don’t think anybody here wants a longer schedule.

  8. Thomas Sputo - September 21, 2017

    Responding to Peter’s question about Baton Rouge. The volunteers and officials did a very good job of interacting with the athletes. Regarding the announcers … if nothing else they were LOUD. And while they did some good announcing of the action, they did a lot of talking just to talk. “And they’re ROOOOOLLLLLing.” Heard that too many times from the throwing field. To the point where I just thought … I could probably make my way into the press box with a wire and fix this.” There is a difference between announcing the action and just yelling into a microphone with nonsense.

  9. Peter L. Taylor - September 22, 2017

    Thank you, Jeff (no. 7) and Tom (no. 8). Thinking about just how large the Landover (March 2018) meet will be, and reflecting on the issue at hand of how to appropriately recognize our many winners did get me thinking about “sensory overload.”

    Perhaps in the future someone in masters T&F will figure out how to make everyone happy without subjecting those in the arena or stadium to a constant bombardment of sound. This will, of course, take quite a bit of careful thinking.

    I do not know the answers other than to suggest having three announcers at nationals and giving them detailed instructions about what to present and when to speak.

  10. Jerry Bookin-Weiner - September 22, 2017

    Bidders to host the masters indoor and outdoor championships are required to commit having an award stand (read podium). There is also supposed to be a PA system there as well. It’s in the bid application document as a requirement.

    I know there was a podium in Albuquerque, but don’t recall one in Baton Rouge. Don’t think I’ve seen a PA system for awards ever.

    Others have noted the difficulty of staging awards ceremonies at our meets – the major one being that getting everyone together is like herding squirrels (more difficult than herding cats!). Sometimes the athletes themselves get together to get their awards on the podium at the same time, though that is rare.

    For the indoor meet in Landover there will be a podium together with a USATF backdrop for picture taking. Awards will be in the back room where the second throwing circle is located (Awards near the entrance to the room). That seemed to work well in 2013 and there really isn’t space inside the Field House where the track is located.

  11. Peter L. Taylor - September 22, 2017

    Following up on your point, Jerry, I was thinking of using the awards ceremony as a way of supplementing the meager attention that some of our athletes receive during the meet.

    For example, I see that in Baton Rouge our wonderful thrower from St. Louis, Myrle Mensey, hurled the weight 17.20 meters (56-5) for a pending American record in W65. It would be nice to have the announcer say, “Turning your attention to the awards podium, Myrle Mensey is about to receive ……..”

    This is the way it is done at the Penn Relays for throwers, jumpers, and runners, and it works out quite nicely (of course, they do this only for “noteworthy performances”).

    In my specific example, did the announcers at Baton Rouge last summer tell the audience that Myrle had broken the record? If not, she got no recognition at all for her outstanding performance.

    As far as having PA for awards, the last time I remember that being done was at our outdoors in Baton Rouge in 2001. Note: It did not work well.

  12. E. Grant - September 22, 2017

    Nice concept, but Im cool with getting my medal and going to prepare for my next event. There was a podium available. However, folks rarely wanted to used it.

  13. Mary Harada - September 22, 2017

    Personally I do not care about a podium ceremony but probably some do – make it optional. As for announcing during events – perhaps instead of focusing on the first person in a multi-age group race – how about recognizing that there are a number of age group competitors in the race and the first person to cross the finish line won his/her age group but not “the race” itself. There could be 4 or 5 age group winners and recognition of that should happen. If there is a “star” competitor in a race – it is fine to focus on that a bit but not to the exclusion of everyone else in that event.

  14. Quick Silver - September 30, 2017

    At the Asian championships the organisers tried to collect passports from all the runners in the call room, then return them to the medal winners only after the ceremony. That would have ensured that no medalists wandered away and each ceremony could be held promptly at the expiry of the protest interval.

    A real Leninist idea. It didn’t work, of course, because very few brought their passports to the stadium.

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