Louisville shows where the masters horses really are

Forget Orono and Riccione. To the general reader, the only masters event that matters is wrapping up in Louisville, Kentucky — the National Senior Olympics. On the same day that the IOC announced plans for winter and summer Games for “youth,” The Associated Press’ Will Graves was writing about a 95-year-old discus thrower named Marnie Evans. Marnie threw at Louisville, and she’ll likely be the biggest masters name of the year to millions who read AP stories. But the gold medal for masters coverage goes to the Louisville Courier-Journal, whose package of Senior Olympics stories and photos is breathtaking and sophisticated.

The C-J has printed more than 50 stories or results files in the past couple weeks. And we still have a couple days to go. The event ends Saturday.
When all the medals have been collected and money counted, the National Senior Games Association will be sitting pretty. And USATF will be looking like it just got left in the dust by a Bill Collins with turbojets.
Face it. Those recreational runners, jumpers and throwers are eating our lunch.
The top-echelon quality of marks at Louisville won’t match Orono’s in early August, but the numbers that really count — turnout and field sizes — will likely dwarf our USATF masters outdoor championships. And that’s all that matters to potential sponsors, marketers and host cities. Show me the marks? Heck, no. Show me the money.
The National Senior Olympics have it. We don’t.
George Mathews (and others) are right. Maybe we have no choice but to align ourselves with the National Senior Olympics. For our survival, if not our financial viability.
Yes, the 50-plus crowd that makes up the Senior Olympic circuit doesn’t include the 35-, 40-, and 45 age groups that make up masters. That’s a detail we can overcome. The NSGA covets our seniors of the future, and they’d find a way of including them in their biennial National Senior Olympics.
And what about the even-numbered years? Well, we’d have our annual masters championships just the same, but without the umbrella of the mega-event we’ve seen in Kentucky these past few days.
Truth be told, the boomers may be rich, but few will opt to compete in both Senior Olympic nationals and USATF masters nationals. So what are we (in the USATF circuit) offering to these folks? The older ones, like Marnie Evans, probably don’t have a clue we exist.
And if they do, they think we’re too stuffy and elitist. We wear fancy-shmancy track uniforms. Marnie wears walking pants and a pretty blouse.
NSGA and a split-off USATF Masters should start talking. They give us marketing. We give them professional standards of officiating.
Anybody listening?

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July 6, 2007

2 Responses

  1. Jerry Bookin-Weiner - July 6, 2007

    What’s this “we-they”and “us-them” stuff here? The NSGA says in all its literature that the National Senior Games are run according to USATF rules — and they are! Local and state games often are not, but the nationals always have been in my experience over the past decade.
    In Louisville (as at all the other NSG I’ve been to) the officials doing the implement inspection, flight coordination and throw marking for all the throwing events were USATF certified officials, most (all?) at the Master level. For medical reasons I was one of them this year.
    Your blog here makes it sound like there is no coordination and that “we” (USATF) are somehow in a competition with “them” (NSGA). I thought it was all about encouraging participation in our sport, and this is a wonderful avenue for that participation. At the elite level in masters TF, I’d stack up the NSGA results against the Charlotte results from last year down to the 8th place in each event and I’ll bet it would be a very close competition with NSGA 8th placers winning more often than losing to the 8th placers at the USATF nationals.
    So, how do we all work together to make this a “one for all and all for one” effort rather than the “us” vs. “them” paradigm you’ve laid out? It’s simple. Get involved. The throwers and horizontal jumpers are the biggest complainers about many of the state senior games, and with good reason. Far too many allow competitors only 3 or 4 attempts and some clearly make competitors take all their trials in sequence (one right after the other — otherwise why was I asked as a flight coordinator in Louisville on more than one occasion if we were going to run it that way there!!).
    If you don’t like how the state games are run in your state you have two choices — take your shoes and go home (thus giving up a competitive opportunity each year) or get involved and help make it better (thus giving yourself and your fellow competitors another good competitive opportunity each year)! It doesn’t take the higher ups talking at the national level to get involved locally. State games are run by an army of volunteers — become one!
    Jerry Bookin-Weiner
    USATF Masters Throwing Events Coordinator

  2. george mathews - July 9, 2007

    Ken et al, You are both correct to a degree. It is them and us if not many USATF athletes attend the Senior Olympics. For the most part USATF athletes didn’t support the meet in Louisville. Think how big Masters Track & Field would be if USATF athletes supported both meets.
    I was very happy with the way the hammer was conducted. Jerry did a great job helping out. They used USATF officials and had a USATF sanction. There were many new faces who I would love to see at USATF meets.
    As I have said before, USATF Masters could run as a subsidiary to the National Senior Games and leverage the impact of their Championship every two years. Still doing everything we are doing now. Run the Regionals and association meets even though they aren’t USATF run. Still have USATF rules, sanction and officials. Many of these meets aren’t run by the associations anyway. In the mean time we could take the advantage of the economics of the national staff and marketing.
    I believe that many USATF athletes would spend for the Senior Olympics meet if they had more confidence in the way if was run. The financial difficulty for me is the Worlds. The 400 Americans going to Ricione probably had that problem this year. Choices have to be made. I wonder how many people will decide on Florida over Stanford and or (Finland) in 2009.
    USATF is a professional athlete’s organization. Youth is a feeder system for the professional athlete system. Masters track & field is a nice income source. See how wonderful things are when Masters Track & Field doesn’t have a seat on the Board of Directors starting in 2009?
    The Games approach with The National Seniors Games Association is the future!

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