Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some thoughts on the current state of professional track & field in America...

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak to former University of Washington long jumper Norris Frederick , who is competing in Wednesday's Athens IAAF permit meet in Pireaus, just on the edge of the Greek capital.

As many of the readers of the mighty blogspot know, I have a special place in my heart for Athens and Greece, having spent a lot of time there between attending track meets, including the Olympics and World Championships, and visiting my friends.

I talked to Norris just to see how he was adjusting to Greece, and to see if he had made contacts with some of my friends (he had!).

Over the course of the 30-minute conversation (thank goodness for Skype!), the conversation eventually steered towards how the shoe companies, the IAAF, and the major meet promoters seem to have the power over the athletes, and how that's the difference between staying/not staying in the sport at the highest level.

A common frustration shared by many athletes is the fact that under current IAAF advertising rules, the only logo that can be displayed on the jersey or shorts are the manufacturer's logos. Athletes cannot wear patches of secondary sponsors in IAAF competition.

I just finished reading Conway Hill's blog, called "The View From the Finish Line", where he published a letter written by an unnamed US athlete who is a 2007 world champion and 2008 Olympian to USA Track & Field chief executive officer Doug Logan.

This letter struck a nerve with me, as many of the points this world champion makes are many of the concerns that an up-and-coming athlete like Norris Frederick makes--that is, how do you expect the best of the best to survive in this sport financially under the current system that we have?

Here's the link to Conway's post--I hope to hear some feedback from the readers on your take on this post.

Incidentally, I've posted below a copy of the IAAF Advertising Regulations as an appendix.

IAAF Advertising Regulations

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