Thursday, November 17, 2011

USATF uniform logo regulations could come to a head at Club XC nationals in Seattle...

If you've followed the Facebook page set up by US Olympian Nick Symmonds called "I'm tired of USATF and IAAF crippling our sport", you'll know that the central issue the the fact that athletes are restricted in the size and number of logos allowed to wear on competition clothing.

The rule also applies to things like temporary tattoos, an area that cost Lauren Fleshman valuable warmup time at the ING New York Marathon a few weeks ago when she had her body parts scrubbed with alcohol to remove a temporary Picky Bar logo.

Why is this relevant?

It's because this may all come to a head at next month's USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at the Jefferson Park Golf Course, conveniently in the 'hood of this web site.

According to USA Track & Field in its uniform policy page for the club championships, "Any advertising or manufacturer’s marks on athlete uniforms in the Open races must be in compliance with the USATF Uniform Policy found here. Any club logo that does incorporate a manufacturer’s logo will be subject to the size and number restrictions applicable to such logos." (note:  underlined and boldfaced words from USATF)

Yet in the sentence before it, USATF states, "The 2011 edition the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships therefore will not impose size restrictions on club logos that do not incorporate or contain manufacturer marks."

So, what is it?

This is an area that is creating a lot of confusion for many of the open clubs from around the country that plan to converge on Seattle next month.

Naturally, host Club Northwest (photo of women's cross country team above courtesy CNW) is very concerned about this issue, as their team manager, Becca Gillespy Peter, has spoken out over this, in a series of emails to USATF interim CEO Mike McNees, which is posted at

For the clubs affected, this would mean they would have to buy new uniforms to comply with the logo size regulations, taking away money that could have been used to travel athletes to Seattle.

For Club Northwest, this potentially has double consequences, as they have a small sponsorship deal with Brooks, in which their logo is prominently on the jersey along with the CNW logo. If their athletes are forced to tape the Brooks logo, Brooks may have a case to void their deal with CNW.

In addition, as the host club, Club Northwest is on the hook for any financial losses attributed to the meet, as they are depending primarily on entry fees paid by clubs and individuals to recoup their investment in the meet. Obviously, if teams have to cut their rosters because of budgetary constraints, Club Northwest will not have as many entries, which equals less income, which equals less support given to athletes on their membership roster.

As a former club team manager (I was the founder and team manager of Club Ballard, a team primarily composed of elite high school and post collegiate athletes from the mid-1980s to the turn of the new century), my club depended on small sponsorships to supplement the equipment deal that we had with Nike, even going as far as to sell space on our uniforms.

Take that away, and that puts the burden squarely on the clubs, many of whom are scraping by (yes, I've taken money from my own pocket to help an athlete go to nationals!).

This meet has international implications, despite the fact that there is no world cross country championships in 2012, as the top three finishers in the open men's and women's races will be selected for the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Challenge race in Edinburgh on January 7th.

Peter wrote, "We (Club NW) took on financial responsibility for this meet believing that it would be business as usual at Club Nationals. Instead you have turned this into an administrative and financial mess for everyone involved and our club is the one that will lose in the end. The money that we lose on the meet is money that we would have spent on athlete support."

"I have a simple compromise that would make everyone happy. The guidelines for the international team selection state that the athletes have to declare their interest in making the team. Therefore, only apply the uniform guidelines to those athletes."

"This is not a televised meet, it should not matter what the sub-elite athletes are wearing. This would also make enforcement much easier for our poor officials who have been blindsided by this."

Meanwhile, attorney David Greifinger, has written a resolution that will be on the floor of the USATF national convention at its annual meeting in St. Louis at the end of this moth, the contents of which can be read here.

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