Joe Ruggless resigns from SoCal Striders in wake of Facebook post

Joe runs 200 meters at Santa Ana College.

Until this week, M60 sprinter Joe Ruggless was planning only to step down as leader of the Southern California Striders. But after his unfiltered Facebook post circulated via this blog and email, he’s decided to quit the masters track club all together. “The board [had] asked me to stay on another term to help bring someone else on and help train to be the next president,” he told me Tuesday via email. “With that possibility out the window now, I am asking you to post on your blog that I officially resign as president of the Striders so that we can put this to bed. Please post that ‘My political beliefs and statements in no way reflect the beliefs or opinions of the Southern California Striders, and that I sincerely apologize to anyone my posted comment may have offended.’” He attached his letter of resignation to the general club membership.

Joe’s letter says:

Dear Fellow Striders

I am submitting my resignation as the Southern California Striders President, effective immediately. Due to recent events, I don’t believe that it would be beneficial to the club for me to continue as the President.

They say never to discuss politics or religion amongst friends. I probably should have heeded that warning when I decided on bantering with a friend and colleague about the recent political events involving President Trump and professional sports.

I was very passionate in my response to his post about my position on the topic. I had believed that this would just be between the folks discussing and responding to his post. I was very wrong on that.

To my surprise, on Monday, I was made aware that my comments were headlined on the Masters Track and Field website. Realizing that my comments may be offensive to some of the Striders members, I decided to step down because I did not want my political opinions or beliefs to affect the club in anyway or form. My biggest fear is that members might leave the club If I were still associated with it.

I believe that I am leaving the club in good hands until someone steps up to take the position of President. The board of directors have worked hard to put this year’s awards banquet together and hope you all will attend. For obvious reasons, I will not be there.

I want to apologize to anyone that my comments might have offended and want to thank you for the support you have given me during my presidency over the past couple of years, it has been an honor to be a part of such an amazing organization such as the Southern California Striders.

Joe Ruggless

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September 26, 2017

23 Responses

  1. track fan - September 26, 2017

    Hooray for Ken! He got what he wanted!

  2. Wade Sorenson - September 26, 2017

    He shouldn’t be the president of that club if he believes the things he put in writing. Hopefully track remains all inclusive as discussed on here in the past.

  3. Chuck Havens - September 26, 2017

    Wade Sorenson people like you are the issue. Whether you agree with the man or not, ALL are entitled to their opinion whether it is the POTUS, Joe, a homeless person and yes, even you. However an attempt to destroy ones passions should not be part of the plan in a private discussion.
    Unless you know the man then you do NOT know the man. By reading his resignation it should be obvious that he puts others before himself without reservation. By Joe taking the high road on resigning he gains NOTHING for himself other than protecting his club and teammates. If you cannot connect those dots then I submit again you are part of the problem. Ciao!

  4. Steve Snow - September 26, 2017

    Well, Ken, are you happy now? Proud of yourself?

  5. Wade Sorenson - September 27, 2017

    Chuck Havens people like Joe are the issue. He wrote the racist rant. He took the high road only after people learned the truth. Can’t undo what he believes by deleting the post.

  6. Chuck Havens - September 27, 2017

    Wade Sorenson I have read his “rant” and maybe I am the problem. I don’t see racist in it. I see a man describing his feelings from his youth growing up and how it impacted his life. You can give yourself over to conjecture and assume he is racist but I think you are putting words in his mouth. His experiences are from his perspective not yours.
    Him having an issue with Kap is his opinion. If you don’t find the irony of a guy making millions describing his oppression then I have nothing for you to explain it.
    I do not like the players not standing to respect the anthem but only from the basis of them being on their employers time which you may not get either. You want to take a stand do it on your own time.
    Lastly, it seems that over time any person that disagrees with another person of any race they are labeled as racist and I believe that narrative needs to change. We may not agree but I certainly would not come to the conclusion that you or Joe, by those remarks alone, are racist. It just doesn’t fit in my opinion.

  7. David Schmanski - September 27, 2017

    Hey Wade Sorenson… I understand Black Lives Matter and Antifa are hiring… you would make a great poster BOY. Careful that racist WHITE snow is coming again this winter….

  8. Richard Watson - September 27, 2017

    I agree with Wade Sorenson that track should remain all inclusive. However, Wade appears to believe that all inclusive means involving only those people that agree with him. Before demonizing Joe Ruggless, perhaps one should see how he is viewed by fellow members of his Southern California Striders, including members of various minority groups. In Joe’s defense, he spent a lot of time and effort and personal sacrifice as meet director planning, organizing and putting on the Southern California Striders Meet of Champions, one of the better annual masters meets in southern California. Also, as a matter of common courtesy, it would have been proper for Ken to ask Joe’s permission prior to publishing his email, especially considering that Joe had taken it down after venting to his friend.

  9. Ken Stone - September 27, 2017

    Just FYI: I spotted Joe’s Facebook post because I am in his wide circle of Facebook friends. The post in question was “live” for at least 7 hours when I copied it — it had not been immediately deleted.

    As of 9:40 a.m. Sept. 27 Pacific time, I have not been unfriended by Joe, who has 611 Facebook friends, including 36 “mutual” friends with me. Potentially, hundreds of people saw (and shared) his “SOB” post.

  10. Don Barrington - September 27, 2017

    Not sure I want to return to master’s track with people like Ken Stone pulling Fancy Bear stunts and releasing other people’s conversations. He is supposed to be a journalist, reporting unbiased news,I’m not sure what, if anything, Joe’s comments have to do with track and field, but apparently some people have their political blinders on. I will definitely avoid Mr. Stone’s website.

  11. Richard Watson - September 27, 2017

    Fair enough, Ken. You posted this in good faith when the other post was “live”. However, that being said, Joe meant to share his post with his circle of Facebook friends, which includes you, and not with the general public nor with Many times, I have shared provocative, inflammatory, insulting, nonpolitically correct rants with close friends that I would not think of sharing with the public at large. Joe deserves the same latitude. Perhaps we should focus more on that which brings us together, namely masters track and field, and less on that which divides us, namely politics.

  12. Michael D Walker - September 27, 2017

    Sure a lot of angry people out there. Joe may have meant to speak his mind just to a few friends but by posting on Facebook, Joe made his opinions all too public. While I don’t agree with what Joe posted, I do admire that he had the courage to publicly apologize.

  13. chuckxc - September 27, 2017

    Richard Watson,
    No, No, NO. That’s what the FaceBook messaging feature is for. If instead you reply to a post on someone’s FB timeline, you are addressing the entire WORLD, whether you realize it or not. That is the whole premise of FaceBook.

  14. the dude - September 27, 2017

    If you don’t mean it, don’t say it (or write it). You can’t un-ring the bell…

  15. Ruggles - September 27, 2017

    Ken, I have spent the day contemplating whether or not to respond to your personal attack against my father. First I will address you and then the others who have so quickly jumped on your bandwagon. While my father has had many people come forward in his defense because they know him as a person, other have bashed him based on something that he truly regrets posting, and that you thought it was your duty to repost. His views come from his personal experience as a child and young man, and do not reflect his views today. You clearly know who he is, and how to get in touch with him. If not, I’m sure it is not very difficult to find the contact information of the President of an organization. If you really were interested in having a healthy debate over current issues and not just calling someone out, then in my opinion, before you reposted a deleted FB post, you should have sent an email or picked up the phone. Instead you have the luxury of sitting behind your computer and passing judgment on others. I am sure this is not the first personal attack you have launched. The great thing about this whole issue is that you can do it because you have the right to freedom of speech. While I may disagree with some of my father’s political and personal views, we are able to have a rational conversation and agree to disagree when necessary, as my experiences are different based on the time and place I grew up. My father is not the person you have painted him out to be. He is a loyal friend, and a loving husband, father and grandfather.

    To those who have jumped on the bandwagon, I am sure that your closet is not skeleton free. How would you feel if your private conversation, on a private page were shared for the world to see? While I understand that the internet is not anonymous, my father never intended on offending or hurting anyone, he was involved in a hearty discussion in a PRIVATE FB post. It is interesting that only his comment was re-shared, is it because it offended people who don’t agree with him? I am sure many people do not always agree with all of your views. To all who read this, please feel free to express your opinion, and if you feel it necessary go ahead and criticize any grammatical or spelling issues you find, and call me uneducated if that makes you feel better, because again after all, you have the right to freedom of speech.

    We all need to be kinder to one another, the world is a challenging place to navigate right now, and it takes everyone coming together to make a difference.

  16. Janet Johnston - September 28, 2017

    Our country is so divided now and I think no matter what side you are on most masters athletes are looking for a place where those negatives are put aside and people can just compete and enjoy each other’s fellowship. I would think that promoting Masters Track would be a goal of Masters but publishing someone’s Facebook rants reflects a different goal. Mr Stone, do you have a mission statement? Your mission statement would help your readers know what we can expect in your blog.

  17. Lindy Raney - September 29, 2017

    Good point about the mission statement Janet. It seems that Ken’s mission is to seek out masters athletes who are not alt left and try to destroy them.
    Ruggles-You are right, Ken has aired the dirty laundry of many other masters. I think all of us have said or done things we regret, but the left loves to paint all conservatives as racist. Like Ruggles said, we all need to be kinder to one another.

  18. Max Speed - September 30, 2017

    Nut didn’t fall far from the tree did it.

  19. Damon Blakemore - October 1, 2017

    It was very interesting reading the article and the ensuing posts to this situation. As mentioned by Stephen Gould (whose FB page is where the post originated) I responded to the post by Joe Ruggles. I believe I’ve only met Joe once, and we had friendly conversation on the track before running a relay. I responded to his post (and I believe my comments came down as well when he deleted his post). Although I disagreed with him, I did so without menace or malice, but with the intention of providing a fuller picture that extended beyond a few anecdotal incidents that were outlined. I fully understand that one’s experiences shape their beliefs, but also know that if you continue to grow as a person, those beliefs can be reshaped by experiences and people that run counter to those beliefs.

    I generally don’t respond much on social media, and to even fewer things that politically or racially tinged, as the universe of people, some whom I either don’t know very well, or at all, can be mean and/or derogatory under the veil of the internet. In responding to most people’s arguments, I try to determine if their position has logic, and if they apply that consistently. If that is the case, I can at least respect their argument, even if I don’t agree with it.

    I agree with the other Mr. Ruggles that we need to extend more kindness and understanding to one another, and to have a little more empathy. I prefer to be part of the solution as opposed to the the problem.

  20. sad reflection - October 3, 2017

    This is a sad episode in Masters Track… I hope that this does not dissuade anyone from participating, although I can see why it might, and hope that the real spirit of Masters Track and Field overcomes this negative reflection. As in other matters be careful what you consider “news” and always consider where it is coming from and any possible slant. “We” are better then this. I agree with the post that indicates less consideration of this outlet.

  21. Steve Morris - October 3, 2017

    Say it ain’t so JOE!

  22. Bob Walters - October 5, 2017

    What I find most gratifying about competing in Masters Track & Field are the wonderfully diverse, gracious and inspiring athletes I’ve met. My fellow competitors know that the stopwatch doesn’t care about race, gender, religion, or politics – only who is most prepared.

    As we work to keep our quality of life high through spirited competition while growing older together, shouldn’t the focus be about serving others rather than continually sowing the seeds of divisiveness. Good people have moments of weakness and may express themselves inappropriately, or have lapses of judgment to repost such expressions rather than be a true friend and privately offer advice and coaching. Perhaps we should consider casting stones at such times only if we are sin free. Or better still, perhaps we should simply treat each other as we would like to be treated.

    Lastly, there are plethora of inspirational and motivating stories in Masters Track that make it inconceivable why there would be any focus on politics on a site devoted to our sport.

  23. Ken Stone - October 5, 2017

    Good note, Bob. I completely agree with the idea that the sport is a sanctuary from divisions. I liken it to a nudist colony — nobody can tell who is rich or poor. It’s all about fitness and fun.

    But my blog has forever examined issues you can find on any sports page — doping, governance, personal behavior off the field.

    I’ve reported on masters athletes in trouble with the law, in trouble with WMA or just having trouble finding ways to pay for their big-meet travel. (I link to their GoFundMe pages, etc.) I give folks a platform to critique meets.

    If this blog confined itself only to upcoming meets, or notable performances — plus interviews with stars — it would cheat many readers of the full spectrum of masters track stories. It would border on boring.

    I sometimes challenge USATF Indy HQ or masters leadership, but I do this on behalf of real concerns of athletes who don’t want to “out” themselves.

    I’m prepared to take the heat, which only means charred skin gets recharred. Can’t do much more damage.

    I’m not looking to win a popularity contest. I’m trying to serve the sport as a gadfly, posting news and commentary of value to athletes, meet organizers and governing bodies.

    One example:

    The 2009 WMA presidential election in Lahti, Finland, was a fraud. By all rights, Rex Harvey should be president today. But he lost by 1 vote.

    Later, I reported on evidence that Stan Perkins won votes from illegal delegates.

    Nothing came of my report, of course. But I hope it put WMA on notice that it won’t easily get away with this again — because someone is watching.

    So you have a choice: Expect reporting on the “negative” side of the sport, guaranteed to chap somebody’s hide, or close your eyes and unbookmark this page. Ignore it.

    My favorite definition of news is: “What Somebody Does Not Want You To Print. All the Rest Is Advertising”

    I do my share of “advertising” the sport. But don’t limit me to that.

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