Friday, July 18, 2008

Doug Logan meets the press...

New USA Track & Field chief executive officer Doug Logan spoke for an hour to members of the national media Friday on a conference call.

In his opening remarks, the former commissioner of Major League Soccer, who is contracted by the national governing body until 2012, addressed his goals for the first sixty days.

"In the first 30 to 60 days, I'm going to be a huge sponge. Those of you who know me know I'm a pretty quick study. I'm going to take track on one-on-one and I've got some good teachers. I've got probably 100 volunteers on my PC screen right now. I will talk to fans, coaches, athletes, officials, members of the press and sponsors - everybody involved in the sport at one level or another. It would be a disservice for me to jump in and be presumptuous that I have answers before I undergo that process. Beyond that, we've got a wonderful Olympic Team that I hope to be joining early in the process in Beijing, and hopefully we will come out of that competition with a number of medals greater to or equal to what we've had in the past. I think we've got a great team, and I look forward to that competition and supporting our team in the best way we know how."

On the issue of growing the sport through event creation and television outreach, Logan emphasized that track & field must be in a regular television spot. Additionally, he feels that the United States must eventually avail itself of a series of track & field-specific stadiums, using the same model that Major League Soccer has.

“(The sport) needs more dramatic competitions linked in the form of a circuit,” he said.

In the months to come, he hopes to work with athletes, agents, meet directors, and others to ensure that the vision becomes reality.

Speaking of track specific stadiums, he noted that he attended the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, stating that it was the first time he’d attended a meet there. In talking about the experience, he said that the Trials were as big a spectacle as any Super Bowl, World Cup, or US Open event he’s attended.

“There was great character and authenticity of what happened in Eugene, and it taught me a tremendous lesson.”

Much as Masback did during his first months in office, Logan, who presently lives in Florida, will contact the various constituents of the organization, including its volunteers, coaches, administrators, media, athletes, office staff, etc., in order to get a solid idea of the challenges and opportunities that USA Track & Field, with an $19 million annual budget, will have in the next four –plus years of his contract.

On the fact that there are 30 million runners participating at all levels of the sport, from the grass roots (“If road running is the grass roots, then I’m in the dirt roots” he joked about his running, which is about 2-3 miles every third day),, Logan said, “We must find a way to keep them interested, stating that the sport in the USA doesn’t give those 30 million participants a good reason to watch track & field."

Logan is confident that track & field will be an easier sell than his previous sport, pro soccer.

USATF president Bill Roe stated that in selecting Logan as the man to replace Craig Masback, the selection committee, and ultimately, the board of directors of the federation looked at his leadership qualities, his imagination and vision of the future, and his “thick Rolodex”, as factors in ultimately hiring him over a field of 100 prospects.

What will remain to be seen is how the present constituents of USA Track & Field take to a man who is a relative outsider, and how Logan is able to move the sport in the United States forward while potentially battling and/or embracing the multi-headed monster, which includes youth, masters, officials, race walking, mountain running, and trail running, that want a bigger slice of the pie and/or protect the piece it has now.

As Logan stated in the USATF press release on Thursday, “I will act as a fair but firm agent for change as the organization goes through a stressful restructuring, and I believe we can improve on our impressive grass-roots membership numbers.”

The excerpts of his teleconference can be read here

No comments:

Blog Archive