Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New 2018 (and some reflections from 2017)...

Happy new year! (David Eiger/AIPS photo)
I want to open 2018 by wishing all of you loyal readers of this blog a healthy and happy new year!  

I would like to take a moment to reflect back to the 2017 season. This blog, which started out in 2007 as an extension of my writing for the now-defunct Northwest Runner magazine, has now taken a more prominent role in covering the exploits of this state’s collegiate and professional track & field athletes now that the magazine no longer exists.

With the shift over the last decade from print to web-based media, the state’s daily newspapers, which once upon a time, used to cover the collegiate and professional track and field athletes in this state, don’t have space to cover the sport the way they would like to.  And to compound the issue, most of the news outlets are relying more and more on the school’s ability to send out news releases.

Unless that news outlet is willing to invest the time or the resources to actually send out a reporter and/or photographer to cover an athlete, the most that they’ll get is whatever release that school sends out.

If you’re a professional track & field athlete in this state, your ability to be recognized in mainstream media is even more limited, unless either your team or your agent puts out feelers to the media. Not only that, but quite frankly, unless it’s an Olympic year, the chances of a pro track & field athlete getting any kind of coverage from the mainstream media is somewhere between slim and none.

In 2017, this web site covered collegiate and pro meets here in Seattle, and traveled to Bend, Oregon; Tucson, Eugene, Portland, Sacramento, Lacey, Bellingham, Madison, and Louisville this year.  This web site also provided on-site coverage of both the IAAF world cross country championships in Kampala, Uganda, as well as the IAAF world track and field championships in London.

From left:  Jens Jorg Rieck, ARD/Germany; Volker Hirth of ARD/Germany; yours truly; Zoran Mihajlov of Macedonian Radio/Television, Macedonia; 
Ambrogio Sala, Corriere del Ticino, Switzerland; African Athletics president Hamad Kalkaba Malboum;  Jose Antonio Miguelez, Temp Sport Miguelez, Spain; John Bagratuni, DPA, Germany; Andreas Schirmer, DPA, Germany; David Eiger, Maariv, Israel. (photo by Giancarlo Colombo for AIPS)
While I’m not one to toot my own horn, one of the highlights of the IAAF world track and field championships in London was receiving an award from the AIPS (Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive, or International Sports Press Association) as one of some fifty-plus journalists and photographers worldwide who have covered ten or more world championships at a luncheon hosted by IAAF president Sebastian Coe and AIPS president Gianni Merlo.

I began covering the world championships in 1991 when a 5-8 high jumper from Seattle by the name of Rick Noji, who coincidentally went to the same high school that I graduated from (Franklin) and was coached by the same man who coached me as a distance runner (Don Bundy), competed for Team USA and finished eighth in that event in Tokyo, Japan.

Since covering the world championships in Tokyo, I’ve been privileged to cover twelve more world championships for ABC Sports, NBC Sports, ESPN, Northwest Runner, and paulmerca.blogspot.com, only missing the 1995 meet in Gothenburg, Sweden. I’m one of only six Americans according to the AIPS who have covered ten or more world championships.

There are people behind the scenes who helped the blog with text and photos in 2017.  Those include the sports information offices at Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, University of Washington, Seattle University, Saint Martin’s University, Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Washington State; photographers Howard Lao (howlaophotography.com), Kirby Lee (Image of Sport, and also one of the six Americans to have covered at least 10 world championships), Randy Miyazaki (trackandfieldphoto.com). Jeff Cohen (trackandfieldimage.com), and Michael Scott; as well as the media relations contacts at Nike, Oiselle, Brooks, adidas; various agents of pro athletes (you know who you are); and the countless number of individuals who have sent social media messages or emailed me with tips, news, complaints.  It’s you, the readers, who help keep this blog going.

While 2018 may or may not have the impact of a world championship or Olympic season, you can bet that someone out there is waiting to make their presence known this season!

As a teaser, we will put a bow on the 2017 season later this week with the unveiling of the 2017 Mercanator Awards…who will get the Mercanator?

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