WHEN COLE MET CARLOS

My youngest son,  Cole, excused me from his graduation from high school to attend the Glen Mills’ Jamaica Invitational  Track Meet June 11 in Kingston, Jamaica , IF,…….I took him with me to the U.S. Olympic Trials later in June. He wanted to watch the trials and continue his training with Jason Richardson, Lashawn Merritt, and Mike Berry. He is a 400 meter runner and wanted to train for his A.A.U. Championships Meet later in July. His mom took him to the graduation and I took him to the Trials. One night we were sitting in the television lounge at the Eugene Hilton Hotel talking as he was star gazing as the various athletes and coaches he had read about passed through . During that time a tall, thin man, with a greying beard and hat jauntily cocked on his head, sat down with and exceptional air of authority and power. He looked at my son and said:

Young man, your father and I go back a very long way. I still remember him giving Sam Perry coaching instructions at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden when I was a kid. I heard him tell Sam something about his start just before we were all going to get in the blocks for the 60 yard dash. I tried it, and it worked out and I got into the finals. I said to myself, “Hmmm, this cat knows what the hell he is talking about.”.

At this point I interrupted and said:

John, I still remember them introducing you,…..”And in lane 3 is John Carlos, Metropolitan A.A.U. sprint champion !”.

Yeah I was only a teenager then. It was the middle 1960s in the old Madison Square Garden up on 9th Avenue and 50th Street.

I chimed in with:

Yeah I remember the Paramount Hotel as the athletes’ hotel, on 46th, between Broadway and 9th Avenue. We could walk a block and be right in the middle of Times Square with all those lights and people walking around.  Up the street a few blocks was Birdland, dubbed the jazz corner of the world. I remember going down the stairs into the club and hearing Miles Davis when he still had Coletrane with him. He had Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on angel head bass and I don’t remember if it was Philly Joe Jones or Lewis Hayes on drums. The place was packed. But this was years before the race your are referring to.

Carlos impatiently:

Yeah, well what I am referring to is listening to you telling Sam what to do and he later ran 6.0 for 60 when that was the world record. That was in the middle 60s. You and I been knowing each other every since. I been listening you since then too.

I looked over at my son and was disappointed because I did not think he was impressed enough having John Carlos sitting there talking with us,….saying good thing about his father. I said to him:

Cole, do you know who this IS ?

Yeah dad, I know, John Carlos. He and Tommie Smith protested at the 1968 Olympics Games in Mexico.

I still was not impressed with his apparent lack of being impressed:

Cole, what these guys did was a very brave and courageous thing. They had every right to think that someone would try to assassinate them. They had already killed Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, two more niggers wouldn’t have been anything.

At this point John took over:

Look, we got all sorts of threats and stuff. We got stuff even before we got to Mexico because there was just even talk of a boycott by the blacks. Looked like the only support we got from whites was Peter Norman, the Australian who was second in the 200, and the 8 white guys on the Harvard crew team. Peter was a very special guy. He wore the Human Rights pin and stood right up there with us with it on. Tommie and I attended his funeral a little while black. He was a very special white boy.

John, tell Cole about what happened when you went from New York to East Texas State:

Man,…you talk about culture shock !! That was culture shock !!! When Kim, I was already married when we got there, ….when we got off the plane and the head coach met us and that was the first time I heard the term nigra  came out of his mouth. He didn’t say nigger,… he said nigra. I had never heard it before, but I assumed it was a soft way to say nigger and I knew we had to get the hell out of there. We stayed a year and met Art Simberg and went to San Jose State. It was called Speed City at the time because of all the sprinters they had there.

At that particular time, there was a lot of real heavy civil rights and human rights stuff in the air. It was so thick you needed a butcher knife to cut it. They had  all the assassinations, the Viet Nam mess, sit-ins, protesters being attacked with hoses and dogs, people being put in jail for no damned reason. To be frank with you, it was not a time that America can be too proud about. That was a time of real gangster  violent killing and shit. except it was not gangsters,……it was the police !

John, tell Cole some of the specifics that motivated and prompted you to do what you did:

In fact there were two things that really triggered the right response in me. When I was a kid up in Harlem, I idolized Malcom X. I followed him around as much as I could,..just like a lost puppy.  When I asked him if I could just be around him he just said one thing to me. ” John if you want to follow me you have to be – a real man.”. I knew exactly what he meant and I tear up and want to cry every time I think about him getting killed. I know if I had been with him when he got killed, it wouldn’t have happened.

The whole Black Boycott of the Olympics idea actually started with Tommie in the fall of 1967. He was in a meet  in Japan, and after the meet a Japanese reporter asked him if there was a possibility that there could be some sort of civil disobedience or boycott by blacks going into the Mexico Olympics. Tommy said yes there was a possibility for that to happen. Then the whole thing grew from that story and Harry Edwards and others took it and ran with it. But what the final deciding thing for me was from the time I met Dr. King. He had been at an event in New York and late that night I sat down next to him and we talked about the dangers associated with protesting and all the stuff he was doing. I asked him straight up, point blank,  “Dr. King are you afraid  ?”, and he looked me back,…straight into my eyes and said “no”. I looked hard back at him. I looked as deep into his eyes as I could and I did not see any fear. I did not see any FEAR. From then on it was a lock for me. These two men were the reason I was not scared when I did what I did in Mexico City.

John, some of this real meaty stuff you are telling us and is not in your book. It should be in your book:

Look man, the good stuff will be in the next book. Right now I am trying to let your son know what was going on back in ’68 and how it all went down. We got several  new generations running around out here since then and they don’t know nothing about no sit-in, no freedom march, no protest,…. no nothing man !  My next book will give the real inside shit about what really went down and what they can expect if they don’t watch out. That racist shit ain’t gone no where. Some niggers thought that because they got a few jobs that the shit went away. The only thing it did was go underground. But I can see it surfacing again and when it comes back it will be worse than ever because there ain’t no Malcolm X or Dr. King out there to lead us in the struggle. I want your son and every one like him to understand. I want them to understand man !

My son is finishing his second week of college at the University of California – Berkeley. Across the San Francisco Bay and South is San Jose State, the university John and Tommie attended. Just up Route 101 from San Jose State is the headquarters of the San Francisco Forty Niners NFL Football team. Kolin Kaepernick, a quarterback on the football team refused to stand for the National Anthem recently and set off a firestorm of reaction and response,.. most of it negative. While accepting the fact that he had an inalienable right to not stand in muted protest, most accused him of being disrespectful of the American military that is dying on an almost daily basis to protect his freedom and right to protest. In explaining what he was doing, Kaerpernick stated that he was sitting down in order to stand up and protest the kind of oppression and lack of freedom that certain people in the society were experiencing every day.

In the constitution of the United States what Kaerpernick did is defined and protected as an inalienable right. That means several things. #1 in exercising this right, he does not have to ( nor should he feel compelled to )  leave the country as a consequence of his protest. #2 the U.S. military, at shooting and the dying level, is disproportionately represented by the demographic in whose behalf he was protesting. #3 this right does not carry with it a limit or constraint based upon income level or social and/or political status. It is what it says it is, an INALIENABLE right with prima facie status. The fact that in exercising this inherent American right, Kaepernick brought to light a very uncomfortable and inconvenient political, social and economic reality, should not be used to attack him. What needs to be attacked are the unconstitutional and un-American conditions and circumstances that are integral in the message he was sending. Attacking him does nothing to solve the problem. Attacking Kaerpernick just allows people to cover up the guilt and discomfort they feel at being reminded that America is not America for everyone.

Having met Carlos, I hope my son is that much better prepared to understand and react to the Kaerpernick phenomenon in all of its myriad and arcane forms and disingenuous disguises. There is going to be a hell of a lot more,…. before we are going to see a lot less.

Thanks.

Brooks T. Johnson

 

How Long Does It Take To Get To L.A. From Fresno ?

From the  pre-dawn time of the phone ringing I had a pretty good idea of who it was.

Why are you calling me at this ridiculous time of day ?

Because I always call you at ridiculous times of day.

Well make it short because I can still get a couple hours of sleep before I have to get up.

I plan on staying with you until I get to L.A..

To L.A. ? From where ?

Fresno.

How long does it take to get to L.A. from Fresno ?

Depends.

Depends ?

Yeah depends.

Yeah depends on how long I can put up with your foolishness.

What do you mean foolishness ?

I mean foolishness,…..as in stupidity.

You got a lot of nerve calling somebody stupid. I saw your last blog and you spellt Max, what’s his name wrong. I can not believe that you were that stupid to spell his name wrong.

Stupidity had nothing to do with it.

What DID have something to do with it,…. Mr. Know It ?

The spelling was to allow pootbutts like you something to latch on to and criticize.

Really ?

Really.

That is so much B.S., and you know it.

What I know is what I know. And I know about what I blog about. If you want to understand the motive and reasoning behind the spelling, then you can go to the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

The New York Times ? I think you would be lost without that newspaper.

Maybe, but there is a Norman Rockwell painting in the New York Times Magazine section, that was on the cover of the SATURDAY EVENING POST. You can probably google it. The painting is called , SANTA ON THE TRAIN.

Santa on the train ?

Yeah. If you “get” the message of the painting, then you will “get” the significance of the spelling of his name.

I never heard of the Saturday Evening Post.  It must be a newspaper, because I know how much you love newspapers.

It is a magazine.

Magazine ?

Yeah,… a frigging magazine !

Are you sure that I will “get” it if I see it ?

Nope.

Then why in the hell should I do it ?

So you can pretend that you are trying to get the subtle meaning of least one thing.

Ok, ok,….so I am not the smartest watermelon to fall off the truck. But you seem to feel the same way about those people in Indianapolis.

Not all of them,…just the leadership clique. The rest are hard working people who think they know more than the grassroots cadre and volunteers that coach and work with the athletes.

How do you know that ?

Because some of them have told me.  That is the whole rationale to justify the troika’s resistance to the reforms that need to be enacted to make the whole governance of USATF more effective and democratic.

Can you give me an example of how these people are not “getting” it, but still feel they know better than the grass root volunteers.

I am going to give you one instance of how they missed the boat and it really cost us in the medal count.

Yeah,…our medal count was really off in Beijing this summer.

Yeah it was off by almost 33% from the average and until they get some real expert, experiential,and knowledgeable input and guidance, it is going to get even worse.

You still have not given me one example to make your point.

Okay, now I want you to put your truck in cruise control and pay a damned attention.

It’s already in cruise control. Stop stalling and fire away.

In 2008 we went to Beijing for the Olympic Games. The same venue and site of the World Championships last summer.

Yeah,…tell me something I don’t already know. Stop stalling !!

Do you want me to tell you or not ?

Yeah.

The shut the hell up,…. and listen !!

Anyway when we were preparing for the 2008 Olympics, we had a resort hotel for our pre-competition training camp in Dalian before we went on to Beijing. The USOC provided us with our own American chef and we ate from an American menu. The swimmers had it equally as good,…if not better.

What the hell do swimmers have to do with it.

If you shut that ignorant-ass mouth of yours I will tell you !

OK, it is shut,….for now. But you need to stay on track.

That is a horrible pun. But anyway, after about a week or so at the resort hotel with the special American chef, cooking from an American menu, quite a few people starting to have loose stools.I personally made sure I knew where the nearest rest room was when ever I went ANYWHERE. By the time we got to Beijing, things were not a whole lot better for a lot of people. I remember getting after David Oliver for not going at what I thought was 100% and he said to me, ” Coach,..if I pushed any harder I would have crapped my pants!”.

Was that the reason Ryan Lochte, the swimmer, missed a race over there ?

Yeah. Now you get the swimming angle to this. But the point is no matter what precautions are taken, some American athletes are going to have varying degrees of gastro-intestinal issues. The microbes in the food chain and water that exist in Japan and China simply raise hell with some American G.I. tracts. And even when the symptoms are mild on the surface, there is a sort of malaise that comes over them and they lose their “edge” in many cases as time over there wears on.

What the hell is malaise ?

Never mind. The point is, the longer American athletes stay over there, the more likely they will become stricken and/or their symptoms get worse. This summer, as the second half of the World Championships unfolded, our performances got worse and worse, compared to what athletes had proven they were capable of . The overall ambiance, electricity and competitive chemistry was lower than whale crap. I remember one of the female athletes being asked after a less than sterling effort, ” How was it ?”. Her reply was, ” It was a learning experience.”. The tone and body language said, ” I just want to survive this and get back home.”. And that was the attitude and feeling ( spoken and unspoken ) of the majority of the athletes going into the second four days of competition.

Ok. Ok. But the guy you coached got a new personal best. How do you explain that Mr Phi Beta Kappa ?

First of all, knowing and feeling what had happened in Beijing 2008, I was determined to not have a repeat. So I did not let Lashawn Merritt got to the pre-competition training camp in Japan. Instead we had our own two week pre-competition training camp at the USOC Training Center in Chula Vista, California. There was no drama, idle gossip, hater conspiracies, and the negative group dynamics that you can get at these training camps abroad. So for two weeks we had the very best conditions under which to train, feed, focus, and get centered for the World Championships. The people at Chula Vista were totally supportive and could not do enough to support what we were trying to do. It was a model of how the national governing bodies should serve and support athletes and coaches. Merritt got there just 5 days before his race.

I thought you were supposed to have at least one day for every hour difference in time ?

I was not going to follow that protocol and take the chance of him crapping his pants just to satisfy some formula. Two people who exceeded expectations in Beijing this summer were the Bowie girl in the 100 and Merritt in the 400. Now Felix in the 400 and Eaton in the decathlon did exceptionally well also, but neither Bowie or Merritt were in the pre-competition training camp in Japan before going on to China. Was spending less time in Asia part of the factors for their success. I am not certain,….but what I am certain of, and that is the fact that some of the athletes over there had been over there too long and in the process,…for whatever reason, lost their edge and to some degree their focus.

I am not sure that you have laid out enough proof to make your point.

But that is not really the point !!!

Here we go again !! Then please tell me what the hell REALLY is the point !

The REAL point is that no one at USATF is thinking, or talking, about the microbe issue as an issue. USATF has already pretty much sewed up and reserved the same training camp venue in Japan for 2020 that we had in 2015. There is a very strong likelihood that Brazil will have microbe issues just like Asia, given the problems they are having cleaning up their water. We have already contracted to have our pre-competition training camp in Brazil.  The longer our athletes are there, the more likely we will have a Beijing result. No one with real insight into the diminishing effects of longer duration abroad is being called upon to provide feedback on these things that directly impact the performance and medal count.

So you think we are going to have a crappy 2016 Olympics just like we had a 2015 World Championships.

Look, American track and field athletes do not travel well in general This is particularly the case for YOUNG American athletes. Beijing 2015 was a very solid mixture of old hands and rookies. That alone could account for part of the disappointments.  However, we particularly have G.I. issues in Asia, and seemingly less so in Europe. At some point it should be on some one’s radar screen at USATF that our relatively poor showing in Beijing was not some serendipitous, random sampling phenomenon. There were/are reasons for it and some of the most likely causes are not even being examined or discussed because Indy is too busy trying to make out that all the knowledge and wisdom in the sport resides in Indianapolis, and they are up to their eyeballs in efforts to protect and perpetuate their longevity in their positions instead of focusing on the REAL performance issues facing our athletes.

Yeah well that is all well and good. What do you think is going to happen ?

The USOC has a formula for the medal count they need to present to their sponsors in order to raise the 500-700 million dollars they need to operate for the quadrennium. They promise the sponsors 110-115 medals in exchange for the money they need to operate. Of that needed number of medals, they look for swimming and track and field to generate between 50 or 60 of those medals. The most high profile medals come from track and field, and because of that track and field anchors the Olympic schedule, coming the second week of the Games. NBC has to recoup over 2 BILLION dollars of advertising revenue in order to offset the cost of the Olympics ( 1 billion rights fee to IOC – 1 billion operation and production costs ).  It is all scripted and organized to capitalize on the popularity of track and field in the summer Olympics. They use the Olympic broadcasts as a sales and marketing platform to promote their fall shows. The better track and field does as the anchor sport, the more likely they are going to meet their marketing and sales goals from the fall rankings that result in increased advertising revenue from sponsors. All that aside,  the key  and critical figure here for athletes is the close to 4 million dollars the USOC gives to U.S. athletes in track and field in the form of support money and alternative help. Since the USOC money goes directly into things that impact athletes, it is more critical and essential  for athlete development than the “new” money Seigel(le) is offering and the new NIKE contract. The reason being that the USOC money earmarked and actually DOES go to athletes and does NOT end up in the administrative either of the national office.

You are losing me with all this NBC, IOC, USOC money stuff. What does that have to do with USATF and what they do ?

Listen, dumb ass, at the beginning and end of the day it is ALL about the money. If track and field doesn’t deliver medals in the middle to high 20s, then the USOC is going to come down on USATF like a lead elephant. In 2000, when the U.S. track and field medal count dropped to 15,…. after the drug reductions, and swimming got mopped up by the Germans and the Chinese , the USOC went into a small panic and instituted a whole new  “money for medal” allocation process for funding the federations. Federations got USOC dollars based upon designing high performance and medal increase plans and successfully implementing them. If we come in under 20 medals again, then the USOC is going to get right in the middle of USATF  management and some heads are going to roll.

Jesus,…. and the athletes are right in the middle of all this ?

Right, and at the end of the day it is the athletes that suffer when the national office does not adequately address their interests and needs. Supposedly these federations exist for the benefit of athletes and their support team. But over time the whole thing got grotesquely twisted and the leadership expects, and even demands, that the athletes serve management instead of management serving them.  That is the big issue facing the USATF convention next week. Will the leadership clique be successful in centralizing and concentrating  more power unto themselves for their own self-serving purposes and self-aggrandizement,…….. or will there be reform legislation passed that will return more authority and influence to the assembly and the people it elects.  It is this  self-appointed and self-perpetuating cabal that we are now at odds against .

You just lost me man. Why can’t you just keep it simple ? I’m telling you, you just lost me man !!!

You’re right. I just lost you. Drive safely !!!!!

 

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

 

PUTIN, THE POPE, and PROBLEMS in INDIANAPOLIS

Some times it helps to make what may seem like micro-points by pointing out major, macro-political events and compare them to events and/or people who operate down here at ground level. One of the reasons this works is  despite the difference in magnitude of the events and their effects, at the end of the day, we have real people who are the actors involved, and they tend to share the same personality, psychological, and behavior traits,….no matter the size of the stage they occupy.  For example, megalomaniacs manifest the same egomania, self-aggrandizement, and tactics no matter the size of the arena within which they act. For example, recently Vladimir Putin of Russia brought Bashar  al-Assad, dictator of Syria, to Moscow. In exchange for military and political support from Putin,  Assad publicly thanked Putin for the help and support Putin was offering him to keep him in power. At the same time Putin was working behind the scenes to get closer to the Western powers/Coalition that is dedicated to the ultimate overthrow of Assad. Max Seigle had a similar come to Jesus meeting recently with the Executive Committee of the Athletes Advisory Committee. After offering the athletes approximately 1.2 million dollars in aid and support for the top performing athletes, the AAC leadership correspondingly and effusively expressed its support for Seigle and his administration. Now let’s us make sure to understand one very important thing,….if you go from zero to one, then in one kind of perception, that increase is infinite. However, when we take and in-depth,and unclouded, view of the money offered and compare it against what athletes from other some countries are given as rewards for similar excellence, the Siegle’s offer is paltry and verges on an insult. This is even more evident when you compare the amount offered to high achieving athletes and realize that the salary of Seigle and his top aide amounts to more 35-40% of what the athletes are promised.

 

I coached a female 400 meter from Turkey in 2012. The Turkish women’s 4 x 400 was ranked 14th in the world and did not advance out of the rounds. Her award from her federation was $40,000.00 for just being on that team. I know that for a fact because she gave me the $4,000.00 coach’s fee based upon 10% of the amount she was awarded.  That represents the maximum amount awarded under Seigle’s plan to the top U.S. athletes.  Further, she advised me that her federation awarded $750,000.00, $650,000.00, and $500,000.00 for individual gold, silver, and bronze medals.

British athletes with the same credentials as Americans, get substantial more support in the form of money,medical, and training expenses .

Carded Canadians get support similar in accumulated value to Americans, and French and Italians get more than their American counterparts for the same level of performance and less. The same can be said, for example, for athletes from Serbia and South Korea, among many others.

Even given the above, we should not be too harsh on the amount itself. Any amount of new money to athletes is a positive and good thing,… even if insultingly meager and niggardly. However, what we need to focus in on is the disingenuous and devious motivation behind the award to athletes. What Seigle and the rest of the leadership troika of USATF,….. Stephanie Hightower, President, and Steve Miller, Board Chair,….., are seeking to do is to bribe the athletes to support their efforts to prevent new and needed reform legislation from getting out of the Law and Legislation Committee. Failing that, they want the athletes’ support when the legislation comes to the floor of the assembly at the national convention next week. In addition to the AAC, heads of other major committees were later invited to Indianapolis with the intent of gaining their support to defeat the very much needed reforms to bring the governance of USATF back into the realm of a democratic processes. The reason for this desperate and despicable effort to circumvent the democratic process is based upon the fact that for the last two conventions, when there was a vote by the assembly,….. for or against, the self-serving troika preferred items,….. the assembly voted overwhelmingly against the troika position. In the case of Stephanie Hightower’s struggle to unseat Bob Hersh as IAAF representative the vote was 4 to 1 against her. She had to rely on a political maneuver that placed the vote in the hands of an already co-opted board to win. So despite the overwhelming support for her opposition, Hightower was able to prevail because of the centralization of power away from the assembly and into the national office and the board. There are new legislative proposals that will restore sanity and more inclusiveness to USATF governance that the troika vehemently and self-servingly oppose.

In his book, UNSPORTAMANLIKE CONDUCT: EXPLOITING COLLEGE ATHLETES, Walter Byers, former Executive Director of the N.C.A.A., said the following about the exploitation phenomenon of athletes by their national governing bodies .  He explained the exploitation as follows, ” I attribute that( exploitation) quite frankly to the neo-plantation mentality that exists ……in conference offices and in the N.C.A.A. that the rewards belong to the overseers and the supervisors. What trickles down after that can go to the athletes.”  This is an uncannily accurate description of what the troika at USATF is seeking to maintain and perpetuate, and they are willing to go to any extremes to accomplish this strangle hold on power and money.  What they are seeking is to centralize more power into the national office and the board and diminish the ultimate, rightful and legitimate power and authority of the general assembly,…. who in turn represents the volunteer and grass roots populace that works with the athletes first hand and on a daily basis .

 

David Greifinger, former counsel to the USATF board, and for years counsel to the Athletes Advisory Committee, has introduced legislation to the Law and Legislation Committee that will expand the board so there will be a broader base of representation coming from the various constituent based committees. Anything that represents a broader base of representation by constituent committees is a total anathema to what the troika wants because it would diminish the power that the troika claims exclusively for itself. Since the chair of the board has substantial control of the board agenda,… and thus influence over policies and programs to be promulgated, the troika has descended deeper into the plantation model. They vigorously oppose the president of the organization, who is democratically elected by the general assembly,  and is assumed to represent the values and super value of the organization and its broad based constituents,…from being automatically the chair person of the board. Greifinger’s legislation would assure that the person that has been democratically elected by the broadest based constituency, serve as the Chair and, protector and promulgator of the interests of the constituent groups for whom the organization is supposed to serve.

After the Putinesque meetings to convince, coerce and bribe influential elements of the organization to support the troika position of more centralized power in the national office, the Putin factor really rolled out in all its ignominious glory and disgraceful political, heavy handed clumsiness. Here it is laid out through the following time line:

September 29, 2014 – Robin Beamon, is charged by the Amateur Athletic Union with several counts of fraud and fiduciary ineptness in her position as Youth Chair of AAU. Count #14 charges that she paid Stephanie Hightower, president of USATF, a $3,000.00 appearance fee, picked up all her hotel costs, and flew her out to Hawaii on a first class ticket, to the AAU convention.

February 22, 2015 – Renee Washington, Seigle’s top aide, sends e-mail to Lionel Leach, chair of the Youth Committee of USATF , informing him that USATF has retained Robin Beamon for “Youth” matters

April 2, 2015  AAU’s National Board of Review finds Robin Beamon culpable of charges including Count # 14

August 22, 2015 USATF board member and USATF Youth Committee stalwart, Sam Germany, reveals reports  highly critical of Robin Beamon’s behavior and conduct at the the World Youth Championships in Eugene, Oregon

October 24, 2015 at one of the Seigle meetings to win over supporters against Greifinger’s reform proposals for Law and Legislation Committee. Beamon vociferously opposes the reforms in the meeting. Greifinger refuses to accept or cave in to troika demands on new reform proposals.

October 27, 2015 Greifinger, receives e-mail from the Chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee, Dwight Phillips, dismissing him as Law and Legislation representative of the AAC.

October 27, 2015 Lionel Leach, Chair of the Youth Committee, sensing what is going on, appoints Greifinger to represent Youth on the Law and Legislation Committee.

October  29, 2015  Stephanie Hightower fires Tim Baker, former Law and Legislation Chair and Secretary, who had served faithfully and effectively on the Law and Legislation Committe for 34 years. Robin Beamon is appointed by Hightower as Baker’s replacement. Hightower replaces Devon Martin, another long time member of the L. and L. Committee with Sharrieffa Barksdale, whose only qualifications were she aggressively supported the troika’s anti-democracy positions at the Indianapolis meeting.

The above represents the tip of the iceberg phenomena that we see unfolding within the governance and non-governance of USATF. What exists outside of eyesight and scrutiny is infinitely worse. In juxtaposition to what we see as micro Putinesque, I posit the action and attitude to governance that is espoused by the Pope as the type of leadership we need at USATF.  The Pope has made it very clear that he favors inclusiveness over exclusiveness as the best approach to leadership, guidance and governance. The troika’s positions on governance is just the opposite. They feel that the great “ill-informed” and “unwashed”  of the grass roots and volunteer cadre are not worthy enough to allow them the ultimate voice as to how they should be governed and served. On his most recent trip to Kenya, the Pope refused being transported around in the big limousines of the other dignitaries. Instead he rode in what was described by one Kenyan as, ” …a lowly miniature Honda car.” When he was a bishop, he rode to work in a bus. Contrast that to Hightower’s Hawaii first class junket at AAU’s expense.  A lot of the Pope’s governance style is based upon a basic philosophical approach he has which is contained in something he stated earlier this year. He stated that in order for a shepherd to be good at his job, “…he must be able to smell the sheep….”. This is the last thing the troika engages in,… or troubles itself about. At the recent World Championships in Beijing this summer, John Smith and I were discussing the fact that none of the leadership clique of USATF ever came to the warm up area, but instead spent all their time in the VIP section of the stadium, snacking, sipping, and swapping lies. Addressing this I said:

“John in order to really know what is going on out here, you have to be close enough and involved enough to smell the funk.”

“Yeah, how can you be making decisions that impact these athletes and never how they prepare, or never see them in action up close ? But what is worse, they never even meet with the coaches who coach the athletes that win the medals that justify their pay.”

Recently the Pope got his biggest burst of applause in Kenya when he stated, ” The gospel tells us that from those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. In that spirit, I encourage you to work with integrity and transparency for the common good.”.

I challenge you to find and identify anything resembling this kind of management, governance and rule from the troika and their minions.

Thanks.

 

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenner – winner – Still

Years ago a relative of a very talented athlete I was coaching decided he would try his hand at being a track and field athlete. He very quickly earned the name “Doc” , as a sarcastic reference to the fact that he always thought he was the smartest person in the group. So what initially started out mockingly as Mr. PHD, became shortened to “Doc”. He lasted for the better part of a year and decided that all of that physical stuff was beneath him. He was going to go to California from Washington, D.C. to show those people out there in L.A. what real talent is really all about. He never made Hollywood quake, but he was able to generate a very good living after buying a semi truck and hauling freight as an independent trucker up and down the state of California. At random times he could not resist the temptation to call me and more or less use his heckling as a way to stay awake late at night on his hauls.

Man, I told you not to call me at this hour of he day.

Yeah, I know. But this is really important.

Important ?

Yeah, important !

What ?

Bruce Jenner finally got the sex change thing done and is all over the media.

Yeah,… it is not exactly news.

What do you mean,..not news ? Any time you are plastered all over all kinds of media, man, that is stone news.

That is not the kind of news I mean.

What kind of news DO you mean ?

I mean, I already saw  Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of VANITY FAIR , so your asking me about it is not really news.

There you go again,..trying to confuse shit. That was Bruce Jenner they were talking about.

BEFORE the cover they were talking about BRUCE Jenner, since the cover they are talking about CAITLYN Jenner.

Why you always cutting this guy so much slack ?

First of all, what he does with his sexuality is none of any one’s business as long as he does not hurt anyone. I remember him as a winner and world record holder and I still see him that way.

The guy changed his sex for Christ’s sake ! How in  pure hell is that winning ?

It is winning because just like he found a way to redefine himself and win in 1976 and go on to bigger things,…. he has done the exact same thing now.

The guy got his sex changed. Do you know what that means ?

Not exactly because I never experienced it, just like I never experienced being the Olympic champion, the world’s greatest athlete and the world record holder. But I do know that what he did back in 1976 wasn’t easy and was the result of a lot of difficult sacrifices and over coming a lot of uncertainty and doubt. The same is true of what he just accomplished.

Jesus,..there is no way you can compare being and Olympic champion and getting a sex change. There is no damned way they are alike.

In your narrow ass way of thinking,.. maybe. But for me I see the guy as a winner in both instances because he did EXACTLY what he wanted to do with his life, against a lot of pressure and resistance .

SO,… you telling me you approve of a person changing their life like that ?

Who’s life is it ?

That ain’t the question or issue.

For me it is. I respect and admire a person who legitimately sets out in life to remake and redefine a life they do not like, overcoming great resistance in the process just makes it more impressive. The fact that sex is involved is not the defining and persuasive issue for me. Assuming legitimacy, you have to admire and respect a person who can totally remake themselves and lives. You would have no problem if we were talking about a person going from being a non-believer to remaking their life and converting religiously.

That is totally different. Becoming a Christian is not a strange change.

First of all, I did not say conversion to Christianity. Christianity is not the only religion in the world .

Look man, I am a true and real Christian. Have been all my life. Christianity is what has sustained our people all these years in this racist ass world.

Since you are playing the Christianity card, let me share THIS with your ignorant ass. There have been more people killed and repressed in the name of Christianity than there ever was,.. or ever will be  from sex changes.

Christianity is not the only religion that has killed people. So don’t go there with that shit !

You are right, Christianity does not have a monopoly on killing. But that was not my point.

Just what IS your damned point ?

In your pseudo-pious perspective you think what Jenner did was to cross some line drawn in sacred sand. I, conversely, think what we have here is a human being who went after things he wanted in life and, against all sorts of resistance and pressure,  got what he wanted out of life. In the process he did nothing illegal, and legitimately redefined and reshaped his life. Caitlyn Jenner is a winner in my book for the exact same reasons Bruce Jenner was/is a winner in my book.

Yeah,…well we read from two different books.

Granted and good.

On another subject, I hear your boy Oliver fired your ass.

Yeah,…. and Jason Richardson and Lashawn Merritt HIRED my ass !

What happened ? How do you explain what happened.

This way. For more than ten years I did every thing I could to build him up and help him develop and grow. If I were to go into any kind of defense or counter action THAT would involve doing just the OPPOSITE,…. and that is NOT going to happen. !

He said some pretty nasty things about you.

And I have picketed and lobbied in my time, along with thousands of others,  for Niggers to have the freedom to express their views. He is entitled to his.

Nigger, you need to come down off that high horse of yours and mix with the rest of us. Don’t let all that high talking bullshit blind you to reality out here.

I have been on the same horse for longer than I can remember. And I am going to ride it until the reins fall out of my hands.

Ride my ass ! Now you KNOW you are wrong about Jenner.

We back to that ?

Yeah, we BACK to that !

Yeah. Well before I hang up on your ignorant ass, let me say this – ” Jenner is a winner,…no matter what first name precedes Jenner “.

CLICK

APRIL FOOLS SQUARED – “GOTCHA”

I knew who it was because of the earliness of the hour. I answered because I felt a small sense of  victorious elation.

I thought you were going to come out to Mt SAC to collect on our dinner bet.

It wasn’t that big a bet for me to come all the way out there just collect a bet that was that easy. However,.. I would have liked to see Tyson run and see what John Smith has done with him since he has been out there training with him and his HSI group.

What do you think about Tyson coming to train with John ?

Under the circumstances, I think it is a good idea. As you already know, I like Tyson and respect John’s work a lot.

Yeah, I remember you telling the world about how much of a team player Tyson was back in 2007 at the World Championships.

Yeah, he won the 100 from Asafa Powell, and the 200 from Usain Bolt, then came back to run third leg on the winning U.S. 4 x 100.

That was a lot of running.

Bet your ass it was !

Speaking of bets, how did you know that they would fall for the April Fools thing ? You trapped me into my betting that they would ignore your blog about Hightower and her cancelling the mile in the U.S..

Listen, man, I know these people and the petty shallow way they think. I knew they could not resist the temptation to try and play I “gotcha” because they thought I had fallen for the April Fools prank about her cancelling the mile in America.

Yeah, how did you know that it was a prank ?

There were two very easy indicators. First the article declaring that she had cancelled the mile was listed as being authored by Ian Stewart III.

So what ?

Ian Stewart is the name of her third husband dummy. Ian Stewart III,….husband number three,….. duh, psyche, psyche.

Oh, yeah, I forgot that. You said there was two things. What was number two ?

Actually there were THREE things.

Now you are playing games with numbers. Cut the cap and tell me what number two was.

There was a French quote attributed to her and I knew damned well that the only French she knew and would speak,….. the French would never understand.

That is weak as hell. What was number three ?

A very good friend called me and told me it was an April Fools prank.

A good friend ?

Yeah, an intelligent and reliable friend had confirmed that it was an April Fools’ joke.

Is that a subtle dig at me ?

Anyone who calls me at this hour can not be either intelligent or reliable as a friend.

Okay, okay, I do not know why I put up with your crap. I ought to just hang up and leave you hanging out there.

Yeah right,…you need to just hang up.

Not until you tell me why you went ahead with the blog when you knew the original stuff about her was a prank.

First of all, I was pretty sure that if I responded as if I was not aware of the prank, she could not resist the temptation to “call” me on reacting to a prank.

That was the basis of our bet, that you would buy ME dinner if they did NOT responded and say “gotcha” ?

Yeah and I won didn’t I. She responded like I bet she would.

What did she say ?

It wasn’t her ?

Wasn’t her ? Then I win if she didn’t respond.

She responded through one of the people in the national office.

Wait a damned minute. The bet was that SHE would react and respond.

Well she did through one of the national office people.

What did they say ?

They snidely pointed out that I had written a scathing blog, reacting to an April Fools’ prank and was therefore very much misinformed and off base.

They were right.

Not really, the whole exercise was to allow them to think that they had finally gotten one over me and in doing so, react ,….and in fact then confirm the fact that some times April Fools are just the opposite of what the April Fools think are April Fools.

That sounds like a double reverse in a way.

That is a  exactly what it is.  It is double reverse SQUARED if you are intelligent enough to get it. And that is why you lost the frigging bet.

So let me see if I got this right. You knew that the stuff about her cancelling the mile was a hoax, but you responded as if you bought the whole thing thinking she would take the bait and react back at you ?

Yeah, wasn’t that the bet we made that she would react back at me ?

Yeah, but in fact SHE did not react or respond back to you,….someone ELSE did. SO,….you lose the damned bet.

Duffy Mahoney was the one who responded at her and Max’s urging.

Duffy Mahoney is NOT Stephanie Hightower.

He works in the national office.

Can you even prove he was instructed by her to respond ?

No,…but we can make another bet about that  if you want .

I am sick of your bets,…you need to pay the hell up for this one because you can not prove it was HER.

I tell you it was done at her  and/or Max’s urging.

That is not what the bet was.

I guess this is another “GOTCHA” incident.

This ain’t no INCIDENT, this is a frigging BET and you need to pay up.

Okay, you got me. Dinner on me the next time I am in L.A..

You damned right !

( CLICK )

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

HIGHTOWER – Misses by a MILE

If it were not so pitifully pathetic,….. it would be laughable beyond belief. Stephanie Hightower, the not soon enough ex president of USATF, in her latest effort to lay waste and ravage U.S. A. Track and Field traditions and values, has again abused her office by”banning” the mile in the U.S.. In support of this latest gross arrogance and ignorance she says, ” Per USATF by-laws, I have the authority to ban any event, at any time for the betterment of the sport. Now that statement comes up for a great deal of skepticism and irony because in actual truth and candor,…. the best thing she can do for the betterment of the sport in America is to take the earliest possible leave of it. Just listen to her further justification of this super stupidity, ” Yes, the mile is still very popular in America, but it is unfair to the other track and field events that receive little if any media coverage.” If this had even a scintilla of logic associated with it, then we should immediately ban the 100 meters due to its preemptive popularity in comparison to the other events. At a time when we are supposed to be developing and promoting the sport itself, why would any person with at least three brain cells working, “ban” one of the most popular events in the sport. Would NASCAR ban Dale Earnhart Jr because he is the most popular driver in the sport. Should basketball again go back to banning the dunk because it overshadows other shots. Baseball should make home runs just another long out because it has more popularity than doubles and singles,…. oh mercies of mercies,  just think of how the irreparable damage and savaging home runs do to the egos, self-images, and delicate psyches of   those who do not hit home runs. By this latrine lawyer logic, home runs are literally killing the game of baseball and the new baseball commissioner better follow Hightower’s lead before it is too damned late !

In a recent blog I accused Hightower of being a megalomaniac, even employing the definition form WEBSTER’S NEW COMPACT DICTIONARY which defines megalomania as “…the delusion that one is great or powerful…”.  To that I added my own corollary “…more explicit in the definition of megalomania is,…above and beyond the delusion of grandeur and power, is the sense that in addition to being powerful there is also the compulsion and assumption that one is also manifestly “right”,…and being both unerringly “right” and powerful permits actions that would otherwise be unthinkable and unfathomable,…due to their outrageous and inappropriate nature and character.” Jesus !! Does that not hit it right on the head ?

As a coach who has had both a female ( Patti Sue Plumer ) and a male ( Jeff Atkinson ) make the finals of the Olympic 1500, and another athlete ( Robin Campbell ) win a national senior championships at a mile, and like so many other people intimately involved in the sport, I do not see one event ( mile – 1500 ) as mutually exclusive in relation to the other. Further, the shallowness of the argument that the mile takes away too much attention from other events is simply too skimpy in nature to be taken seriously as a legitimate perspective.

Bottom line,we have an organization that is lead by a president, CEO, and board of directors that are so inept and inattentive to the needs of its constituents, that malfeasance and miscarriages of governance are now routinely acknowledged and accepted. In a recent NEW YORK TIMES article the respected columnist and economist, Thomas Friedman states, “People who go ‘all the way’ like this will one day go over a cliff. They will regret it. So will the rest of us “.

Does missing by a mile constitute going over a cliff ?

Thanks.

Brooks T. Johnson

MEGALOMANIA – USATF’S MEGA-CASE OF IT !!!

MEGALOMANIA is defined in WEBSTER’S NEW COMPACT DICTIONARY  as “… the delusion that one is great or powerful …” Corollary and more explicit in the definition of megalomania,… above and beyond the delusion of grandeur and power, is the sense that in addition to being powerful, there is also the compulsion and assumption that one is also manifestly “right”,…. and being both unerringly “right” and powerful  permits actions that would otherwise be unthinkable and unfathomable,… due to their outrageous and inappropriate nature and character. Under the spell of megalomania these acts seems perfectly and absolutely acceptable, even laudable, to the perpetrator.

‘THE SYMBOLISM WAS TOO POWERFUL TO IGNORE.” is the lead sentence in the op-ed piece done by Thomas L. Friedman, the distinguished and highly respected economist and print pundit of the NEW YORK TIMES Newspaper in its March 11, 2015 edition. In this article Friedman discusses the extremes that gambling casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson goes to influence Republican Party politics, and even more, how he uses his billion dollar clout to influence the political landscape in Israel. He is credited with spending at least 150 million dollars to defeat President Obama in the last election. He contributes so much money to Republican and right wing political Political Action Committees, that all of the Republican candidates for president  meet with him for his blessing. In Israel in 2007 he funded  and founded a newspaper, ISRAEL HAYOM whose only mission is to support and spew the political line he subscribes to. The paper is free of charge and now has the largest circulation of any newspaper in Israel. Not being satisfied with that he also bought MAKOR RISHON considered the print voice of the “religious-nationalist right” of Israel. At a recent  conference Adelson was quoted as saying that Israel would not be able to survive as a country,…. as a democracy. Friedman quotes Adelson, ” So Israel won’t be a democratic state. So what ?”

Where is all this going ? ” The symbolism was just too powerful to ignore.”. I go from the macro-example of geopolitical megalomania to the comparatively micro-example of the same trait and compulsive failing  as pointed out,… and scathingly criticized by Lionel Leach, the Chair of the Youth Committee of USATF, in a letter to Stephanie Hightower, president of USATF. Hightower sent a threatening e-mail to Tim Baker, her appointee on the Law and Legislation Committee , threatening him that she would remove him if he did not toe the line that she has laid out. This takes on special significance because next year there will be presented a whole package of new restructuring legislation that will essentially, if passed, prevent Hightower from becoming Chair of the board of directors of USATF and essentially ending her disastrous 8 year tenure as the most influential, individual voice within USATF. This new  restructuring package will have to be discussed, vetted and debated within the Law and Legislation Committee, so it is essential that if Hightower is going to have her way, she needs to have allies on the committee who support her self-serving and grossly slanted positions.

Baker apparently forwarded the threatening e-mail to Leach, where upon Leach immediately wrote Hightower a response accusing her of abuse of power and authority and also accusing her of attempting to stifle  free speech. He declared that such behavior was below the office she holds and inappropriate in the extreme. Leach’s letter to Stephanie has gone slightly viral within the USATF community and when I got my copy of Leach’s reaction and rejection of Hightower’s action I was moved to think back to  our shared time and history on the board of USATF. Stephanie Hightower and John Chaplin, as women’s and men’s Sports Committee chairs, along with Lionel Leach as chair of the Youth Committee, John Drummond as chair of Athletes’ Advisory Committee, and me as chair of the High Performance Committee, were considered the ‘dissidents” because of how often we successfully challenged individual and board activity that we thought was unconstitutional or otherwise inappropriate. At that time Hightowers was always on the side of issues that she now finds so offensive and abhorrent to her self-promoting actions and activity. One need only to look back at the most recent USATF Convention IAAF Representative fiasco in Dedember to witness Hightower at her imperial worse.

Hightower’s term as president ends in 2016. During her tenure she has been able to stack the board of directors so it is comprised of people who are slavishly supportive of her. This despite the fact that in the body at large her popularity is lower than President Bush II when he left office in 2009. Given this lack of popular support the only way she can continue in a position of responsibility within the organization was to launch an attack to net her the IAAF representative’s position. This position was held by Bob Hirsh who had a distinguished record as IAAF representative and was the First Vice President of the IAAF. She had to have this position because it automatically claimed a position on the board of directors of USATF. Since she already had the board stacked, all that was necessary was for the deciding vote between her and Hirsh to get to the board of directors. There was/is still a piece she has to get in place to implement her draconian scheme to hold onto power. She also needs to have the chair of the board be selected by the board she already had stacked. In the past the president of USATF was automatically the chair of the board. When Doug Logan tried to get the rule changed to have the board select the chair, Hightower , as president, very angrily and adamantly resisted such a move that would have stripped her of the chairmanship as president. She was very willing to accept the vote of the body that prevented Logan form getting the deciding vote to be cast within the board itself. Now 8 years later, she, not surprisingly, wants exactly what Logan wanted back then and that she so vigorously fought against,….then !

“The symbolism is too powerful to ignore.”. Like all megalomaniacs Hightower feels that she is above and beyond the influence of decency and democracy. When the struggle for IAAF representative came to the floor of the USATF Convention, the vote was 380 plus to 92 in favor of Hirsh continuing on as the IAAF representative . The final vote within the Athletes’ Advisory meeting was 77 and one abstention in favor of Hirsh. In fact there were two votes taken within the Athletes’ Advisory Committee. The first one was unanimous( 100%) in favor of Hirsh. The second vote was taken when an athlete stated that they were not clear on exactly what the vote was supporting or not supporting. It was clearly pointed out that a vote for the proposition on the floor would support Bob Hirsh continuing in the capacity as IAAF representative. The vote was 77 in favor of the Hirsh and the proposition and one person abstained. What matters here is the fact that two of the most critical constituencies within USATF ( the total body of the assembly and the athletes )  voted overwhelmingly and embarrassingly strongly against Hightower,……   and for Hirsh. When the vote took place on the board, the results were 11 to 1 in favor of Hightower and her Machiavellian machinations carries the day in one of the most egregious and horrendous examples of denial of democracy and democratic will within the organization. Good governance gave way to naked greed and rampant/rabid ambition. Hightower like Adelson, feels her raw ambition and viperous vision supercedes the tenets of democracy, deceny and fair play.

Friedman closes his article by stating, ” People who go “all the way” like this will one day go over a cliff. They will regret it. So will the rest of us.” !

The symbolism was just too powerful to be ignored.

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

BRUCE JENNER – A hero of mine !

The word is out that Bruce Jenner is going to “come out” about having some sort of gender change. When I was queried about this, the discussion went as follows:

Brooks. did you hear Bruce Jenner was going to have a sex change ?

Yeah I heard.

Does it bother you that a male Olympic champion is going change his sex ?

He was also the world record holder and titled, “The World’s Greatest Athlete” at the same time.

Yeah,…that is what I am getting at. All THAT and he is going to change !

To be frank with you, I was more upset when he left Chris, his first wife, who as an airline stewardess worked to allow him to be free to train for the 76 Olympics, than I am about his changing his gender.

How can you be upset with him  for leaving his wife, when you had already been married three times when he was Olympic champion ?

Guess that makes me a hell of a hypocrite. But I am telling you what made the biggest critical impression on me. The fact he is pursuing his own objective in HIS life is consistent with what he did to become the Olympic champion and world record holder in the toughest event in track and field. He and Chris had come from this small college in Iowa and relocated in San Jose, California to train for the impossible dream,….him becoming the Olympic decathlon champion.

Look man, I know how tough you have to be, to be the Olympic champ in any event. But the decathlon ? That takes a whole lot more dedication, focus and  hard work …….

More hard work than what ? The Heptathlon ?

No man, not necessarily the heptathlon ?

Then what ? The heptathlon is the female version of the decathlon. Did Jackie Joyner have less commitment, dedication, and hard work when she set the world record, than Bruce did when he set his ?

Man, you keep playing with these damned words,…. that is why I hate talking with you.

Then shut the —- up and hang up !!!

You are not going to get off that easy. Now tell me you are not upset to hear that Bruce Jenner is going to become a girl.

I am not upset that Bruce Jenner is going to become a woman.

How can you say that as a track coach for all these years ?

I can say that because I have been a track coach for all these years and know the things that really matter in the sport ,….and Bruce Jenner’s possible gender change is not one of them.

You already admitted you are a hypocrite, so how can I take you seriously about this.

I do not care how you take me,….seriously or not, however,  Bruce Jenner’s gender change does not alter my perception of him. I remember him saying how hard he used to train at San Jose City College. His apartment was adjacent to the track and Bert Bonanno, the head track coach, used to let him train there. All Bruce had to do was hop the fence between his and Chris’s apartment to get to the track.  Like all multi-event athletes he had one event that for no reason at all, was tougher than the rest. For him it was the pole vault. I remember him telling me how that event really messed with his head and how difficult it was for him to face the event. To his credit he overcame the fear and trepidation of the event and in the process set the world record on the world’s biggest athletic stage. I suspect he faced the gender thing in pretty much the same manner,…although it had to a thousand harder and more complicated. What he wanted he was not afraid to go after no matter how hard,…or far out,it was. How can a guy from a small college in middle America decide he is going to be the Olympic champion in the toughest event in track and field ? Only if he ultimately believes in himself and pursues it with all the courage and ability within his being.

Yeah, but did you just hear yourself ?

Hear what ?

Hear YOURSELF !!! You said how can a GUY from a small college in the cornfields of Iowa expect to be Olympic champion ? This GUY now wants to be a GIRL !

So the guy then knew what he wanted and went after it. The guy now knows what he wants and is going after it. The guy then went after it no matter what, and the guy now is going after it no matter what. It is the same person is making the decisions. Why would we admire the character and strength of his decision making back in the middle 70s and not feel the same about what he contemplating now ?

You are not getting my slant on this. He was a GUY back then !

Yeah,……and ?

Is he a GUY now ?

I do not care what he is right now. But what I do know is that he had a tough decision to make about his life, and just as he did back in the 70s he made the decision. Look, there used to be a meet at San Jose City College called the Bruce Jenner Classic. Bruce was a very big name  after the ’76 Games and allowed Bert to use his name to help promote and develop what turned out to be one hell of a meet at a time when we needed more quality domestic meets. It was an unselfish…….

We are NOT talking about track meets here !

As of now,…. we are NOT talking about anything because I am hanging up.

( CLICK )

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 -0755

What does trepidation mean ?

THEM THAT GETZ,…… SHALL GET

Last weekend I did a clinic for high school coaches in Missouri and was very impressed with the number of attendees ( approximately 700 ) and the overall event management.   However, it was doing one of the breaks between sessions when I was approached by a small group of coaches who wanted to share with me who they thought  were the best coaches in the country. I tried to be patient and tolerant as they gushed out the same over-rated, and all too often repeated, names that I have heard too many times before. When  asked for my opinion I blurted out, “How many of these guys can GETZ ?”

What ?

How many of these people you just mentioned can GETZ ?

After a pregnant pause, one of them tentatively offered, “You mean the jazz guy ?”

Yes, I mean the jazz guy !

I heard he was a good saxophone player, but I never knew he coached track and field.

He never coached track and field. But,…….let me tell you what he really did that made him one of the very best at what he did, and almost totally escapes the people you have just laid out there. Stan Getz was playing in big bands as a teenager during World War II. He was 17 when he got his first big band professional job. Keep in mind that this was during the time when big bands ruled popular music. He was hired for two reasons. One he was very technically sound on his horn and a great sight reader who could memorize charts and arrangements almost instantly. Secondly, because of his age he was draft exempt. But, as i said and repeat, his technical skill and musicality were superior and very much in evidence even at that early age. He went on to win the DOWNBEAT Magazine poll as  #1  more than any other tenor sax player while he was alive. But it was not his technical skill that set him apart and allowed him to win all those polls over a 40 year history. His first gigs were in big bands where he was given short solos because in those days records were 78s and lasted a little over 3 minutes. So by definition solos were short. This music was written and arranged so it had to be played  within certain limits based upon the arrangement itself. Getz became a big fan and appreciator of Lester “Prez” Young. Young was a tenor player from New Orleans who brought a new approach to the music. At that time “modern” or “progressive” jazz was based upon the musicians knowing the chord changes of a song and then improvising their own melodies that were in basic harmony with the chord changes. This allowed for soloists to create and express their own melodic ideas and still stay within the basic integrity of the song in question. What Prez did was to bring an additional liberating element to the music. He went deeply into the mood and meaning of the song as expressed by the author and extended his playing based on this mood and meaning, thereby creating more freedom to express himself and get free of the limitations created by just playing off  the chord changes. Stan Getz adopted this concept in his playing, while at the same time ushering several genres of jazz. For example, he was one of the precursors of “Cool Jazz”, along with Mile Davis, Chet Baker, and Gerry Mulligan. Later he was able to popularize Bossa Nova as a jazz form. Bottom line, he was able to grow his considerable talent and be in the vanguard because although he mastered the basics,…. he did not let the basics master him ! When asked about what was the secret to his growth and ability to stay out front and be relevant over such a long period,  one of the things he said that spoke eloquently to what differentiated him from many of the other horn players was, ” I listen to the lyrics of the song and get into what the mood and ideas the writer is trying to communicate”. Too many jazz musicians are too ego-centric and self-absorbed to pay attention to the meaning and mood the lyrics are trying to convey and create.

Okay, so what ? What does that have to do with coaching ?

At its highest and most successful level coaching track and field is the same, with the same kind of challenges.

Really ? How ?

First of all, like the good jazz musician, the track coach needs to know the science and structure of what is involved in what she/he is trying to do. And like many musicians, we have track coaches that know the basic science and throw the terms around with such ease and expertise that we become impressed with their command of the basics and this can sometimes be very impressive and blinding at the same time. But, however, the very best coaches, like the very best jazz musicians, have to expand their work beyond just the basics and learn how to gauge the mood and meaning of things that Sir Isaac Newton authored,….. and then find a creative way of mixing and expressing this phenomena. Like Getz, Miles, and Coltrane the best coaches get down with the modal and mood that comes from a creative understanding of the essence of the music and coaching craft itself. So people like John Smith and Bobby Kersee, and Clyde Hart are always seeking ways to get to that next level of meaning and expression, and never rest on their past successes as being the defining and delineating activity in their work. They seek to push the envelope of expression within the sport,…..and as a result contribute upwards of 33% of the U.S. medal count at a typical Olympics and World Championships.  What per cent of the medal count do your people contribute ?

I mentioned Clyde Hart.

You most certainly did ! But did you include Smith and Kersee in your reverence ?

No, but…….

No buts,… that strategic exclusion is fatal.

Fatal ?

Yeah,..fatal !

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

GETTING IT OUT THERE

What was perhaps inevitable, is finally working itself up to a head within USA Track and Field . It actually started back before  2008 when Bill Roe, the then president of USA Track and Field, caved in to the United States Olympic Committee’s  demands concerning a “reorganization”. When Bill Roe, Stephanie Hightower( current president of USATF), John Chaplin and I met with the president of the USOC ,  he made it perfectly clear that the threat of de-certification that the USOC ,CEO,and his leadership team, held over our head was basically bogus and groundless since USATF had not committed any de-certifiable offenses. But despite this fact, Bill Roe orchestrated a process than saddled  USATF with a “reorganization” that included a non-representative and shrunken board,……and Doug Logan !

Much of the above was motivated by people who felt they “were the smartest people in the room”. As such they did not trust the governance process to have too much involvement and input from the ignorant and unwashed people that come from the grass roots and volunteer sectors. Athletes were trusted even less.    It was the old game of CORPORATE ROLE REVERSAL. When the leadership of an organization that is established exclusively to support, serve and service the needs of its constituent group, then reverses the roles and expects, and in some instances demand, that the constituency group in fact abdicate their rights and voices and serve the greed and gains of  the leadership clique, then that is CORPORATE ROLE REVERSAL. And that is exactly what is unfolding right in front of us as The president of USATF(Stephanie Hightower), the CEO of USATF, (Max Seigle), along with selected members of the board are currently proposing legislative and by-laws changes that would place almost total power and authority in the hands of people with very suspect motives and  performance records and conduct.

Before we go further, let us understand and state that without athletes there would absolutely be NO need or rationale  for USATF to exist,….. at all. Without athletes performances there would be a greatly reduced interest on the part of sponsors to even become affiliated with USATF. Athletes, and their performances,  are most closely and effectively supported by coaches, officials, and volunteers who address their immediate needs and requirements that drive performances. Given that, it would logically follow that athletes, and the people who most closely work with them for their best interest, would get priority treatment in the overall USATF hierarchy,….. in point of fact, just the opposite is the case and the newly proposed legislative end run is designed to reduce even further  the influence and involvement that athletes and the volunteer cadre have in the decisions that most intimately impact them.

So how is it we have an organization that puts its most critical constituencies in a second class and subservient status and is now seeking to tighten that strangle hold even more  ? This occurs because of the megalomania and greed of the leadership clique and their desire to perpetuate themselves in power and authority to further their own personal career goals and objectives,…. at the cost, exploitation and exclusion of the very people they profess to serve and support.

Let’s start at the very top. When Stephanie Hightower was elected president of USATF, she vehemently fought off Doug Logan’s effort to prevent her from chairing the board. The reason was obvious, Doug wanted to chair the board because the chair sets the agenda and basically can overly influence the direction that board moves, especially with the new smaller board and so many people from outside the inner sanctum of the sport serving on the board. Stephanie obviously was aware that without chairing the board, her position was merely a figurehead. Now that she can not repeat as president, and therefore be board chair, she is supporting the proposition that the chair of the board be elected from the board itself, rather than being the president, who is elected by the delegate assembly as their representative. She has stated to interested parties that she has the votes on the board itself to get elected its chair. The sticky issue to get a position on the board itself outside the presidency. The IAAF representative, in this case Bob Hersh(who is also senior vice president of the IAAF as a result of his many years of  outstanding work resulting in his seniority) is by virtue of being the IAAF rep is automatically on the board. This position has been elected from the delegate assembly in the past and if it were to be the same again, Hersh would surely win. However, there is a Hightower supported proposal that this time around the board elect the IAAF representative, giving Hightower a slam dunk to replace Bob as the IAAF representative, costing us the second highest ranking member of the IAAF and the influence and USATF benefits that derive from that position. If she replaces Hersh, then she can count on her votes on the board to be elected chair and carry on her personal agenda of power and authority.

Why would Hightower be a seriously flawed candidate to continue on as chair of the board of USATF ? The basic and simple reason is the fact that her interests do not rest primarily with athletes and their primary supporters. There are many instances and examples to sustain this charge. She was chair of the board when Doug Logan received a raise, within months before he was fired. He got the raise despite the fact that she was aware of serious and reliable negative assertions about him and at least one athlete. In 2011, at the national championships in Eugene, Oregon, she was called into a meeting of athletes so we could get some closure on an issue regarding whether or not the meet director at the London Diamond League could prevent Justin Gatlin from running on the U.S. men’s 4 x 100 relay at the meet. I explained to her that the British federation, that ultimately sanctioned the meet, by IAAF rules, could not have more restrictive constraints on an athlete’s eligibility than the IAAF. Since the IAAF had cleared Gatlin to run, then the British federation had no choice but to allow him to run. Further, I made the point that no foreign meet director  should tell the U.S. what the composition of our team should or should not be. She countered that the meet was being sponsored by “big business” and we had to comply with their wishes because they were paying the freight. I pointed out that this particular meet had radically reduced the appearance and prize money for athletes, despite doubling the attendance figures at the meet. I stated that I thought her position as president of USATF should require her to be an advocate for the rights of U.S.athletes on one hand,  and do everything possible to increase their fiscal benefits and rewards on the other hand. Her position then was that I was off topic by introducing the money issue into the discussion after she had stated the reason we should violate Gatlin’s right was because “big business” was too much money for us to fight.  She stuck to her position that the meet director could prevent Gatlin from running on the U.S. relay.  The athletes showed their displeasure with her position by voting unanimously to boycott the relays as a U.S. team In London that year.

In just about every public pronouncement made by Hightower, she strategically  drops the terms, “fiduciary responsibility” and “transparency”. Let’s make sure we are in basic agreement that the first and foremost responsibility – fiduciary or otherwise -that USATF has is to the athletes constituency  it is supposed to support, serve and service. When Logan took over as CEO, one of his first acts was to transfer $500,000.00 that was contracted to athletes away from them, and  back into the general fund. The rationale he arrogantly  gave at the time was , “I don’t do business that way.”.  The athletes protested and finally were able to get the leadership clique to admit they had been fiddled out of their contracted money, and there was a settlement visited on the athletes of $300,000.00 or 60% of what was legitimately owed to them. Since then we have heard of all sorts of “new money” coming into USATF but no one has seen fit to make the athletes whole again on the balance of the money that was misappropriated from them. Speaking of “new money”, to date there are no known proposals that would see athletes substantially impacted positively with this new fiduciary windfall. As Nick Symonds recently stated, we have a CEO who is making more than 1.2 million dollars –money raised off the backs of athletes and their performances — yet most of the U.S. athletes are surviving below the poverty line. Where,and to whom, is the fiduciary responsibility being directed under the president’s lofty and often stated claims in this areas ? The president speaks about transparency, and in a conference call with the executive committee of youth athletes, she talked about transparency, despite the fact that she was aware that the national office, without the knowledge and/or consultation with the youth committee charged with awarding the bid for the National Junior Olympics, the national office  changed the terms of the bid package without proper vetting with the committee in question. The results were no takers for the new national office bid package and in the end the original bid package from the proper youth committee was reinstated and bids were immediate. I have been advised by the chair of Athletes Advisory that for more than a year, Athletes Advisory board members have been told by the board chair,  not to share board activity with their constituent  group and especially the chair himself. Where is the transparency factor in that ?  What about transparency and fiduciary responsibility when the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, originally awarded  by LDR to Houston with a prize package of $100,000.00, was abruptly switched through the national office to another site, and as yet there is no prize money settled on the new marathon trials site.

In mentioning Nick Symonds above, I am made to recall what has to be an alarmingly embarrassing and disqualifying incident at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013. Earlier Hightower had made a vow that every athlete that medaled  in Moscow  would have to have  a shot of vodka with her. Nick was having dinner after his medal race with his parents,who  both are administrators and professional people from the Great Northwest,….so you can imagine the awkwardness when Stephanie interrupted their meal trying to make good on her promise.

Bottom line, there should be intense resistance to the new by-laws that seek to limit access and authority to decision making in USATF to a few people who work in the national office and serve on the board. What is being proposed would take ultimate authority from the general assembly and place it in the hands of an ambitious few.  In the first instance, it is simply very bad from a governance perspective,…… if we subscribe to democratic processes as being the best way to govern and serve. Secondly, the people who would inherit this virtual strangle hold on power have not shown even scant evidence and intent that have anything but their own self-aggrandizement and greed uppermost. Thirdly, the new proposals would reverse and pervert the mission and mandate that USATF was established to implement.