Monday, August 24, 2009

Track and Field World Championships: Rants and Raves

While finally catching-up on my recorded TV (have I mentioned I love sports in HD?) I finished the Track & Field World Championships from Berlin. For the first time in my life, I gotta say I'm not impressed with the USA's team. NOTE: I use "team" loosely.

I first fell in love with running when I accidentally watched the Steeple Chase in my younger years, it's still my favorite event, albeit shown only at 3am on some god forsaken obscure cable channel.

This, of course, make me an authority and creditable source for commentary. So...uggh...let me....grunt...(stretch)...get...mmmmy...soapbox...out. Whewww! DAY-UM, it's dusty...cough.

OKAY, here we go!

I watched 6-4x100m relay heats including the finals, perhaps a total of 36 teams. Two teams were DQed...both of the talent rich USA teams. The best teams money can buy...and they couldn't pass the batons. (Please understand I've never ran the 4x100, but I distinctly remember relay runners learning the pass-the-baton skill in junior high, later perfecting it in high school.) These athletes are, for all practical purposes, professionals...IN THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS...and they couldn't pass the freakin' baton!

What's. The. Problem.

I'll tell you what the problem is. It's sponsorship. It's high profile coaches. It's managers. It's agents. It's TV. It's endorsements. It's D-I-S-T-R-A-C-T-I-O-N.

These problems go back almost a decade. Team USA relay teams have had no philosophy, or even goal, of cohesiveness. Check the records, they almost always win the gold or they post a DNF, mostly DNF. Could it be because every athlete has their own personal coach, trainer, agent, doctor and manager. Perhaps no time for that darn skills practicing. One only has to listen to a few "team" interviews to read between the selfish lines. Here are a few examples:

  • In response to the question "Is this (dropping the baton) frustrating?" Carmelita Jeter replies, "No, it's not frustrating. We're a team of four." Analysis: If, in the finals of the world championships, you drop the baton and you're not frustrated, you're not, and never will be a champion. A team of four? Ummm, last I heard there were also alternates on your team, Carmelita. And BTW...a real champ accepts responsibility, due or not.
  • In the same interview teammate Lauryn Williams says, "We'll live to die another day." Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot? You're planning on doing this again?
  • Williams also states, "This team has good Karma with each other and we have good chemistry. We train together (duh) and we ride every where together." I'm still scratching my head.
  • The men's representative, Davis Patton (who didn't "technically" drop the baton, but was guilty of passing out of the even more rookie mistake) responded to the question Where do you go from here? by saying, "We'll move on and try to do our best." Hmmmm, isn't that like a professional basketball player saying, "We're going to try to get to the playoffs."?
Whatever happened to the leaders saying "I guarantee it!" (Tony Romo, I'm looking at you.)

From the get-go I've been a big supporter for these "amateur" athletes to be able to make a comfortable living and still be full-time athletes - not having to have a part-time job to make ends meet and also be furnished a future after athletics. However, in this case we've certainly allowed a veer in an unproductive direction. Perhaps a closer look at Terrence Mahon's total immersion distance running Mammoth Track Club would be beneficial for Team USA relays.

Otherwise, and you can mark my words, if the 2016 Olympics is awarded to Chicago we should anticipate a few embarrassing situations.

And one more thing...Team USA coaches - please get these athletes a little assistance/training on how to be an interviewee.

Enough about relays, now for the for the fun stuff and event musings...

  • New girl crush = Jen Rhines
  • When I first glimpsed at Jamaica's unis I thought, "HEY!, why is John Deere sponsoring them?"
Was I wrong or is it just the country-boy in me? You decide.

  • Is Mammoth Lake, CA the new Eugene, OR?
  • Is it sexist of me to giggle when I see the Brazilian women's team with BRA across their chest? Yeah, I'm about thirteen-years-old.
  • Oops, another girl crush.
  • I love multi-loop marathon courses, they're so spectator friendly...and motivating.
  • Instead of the marathon having water stops, Berlin had "refreshment" stations.
  • Why are the Kenyans and Ethiopians so smooth?
  • How did the Jamaicans get so fast?
  • When did the Germans become so humble?
  • What causes the US relay teams to be so arrogant?
  • Nothing, I mean nothing, is more attractive than a female runner.
  • Sexy
  • Flexy
  • When describing the race pace, if an announcer says, "Slow is an understatement." Shouldn't that mean it's a fast pace?
  • The men's 5000m finals was exciting and rough. Reminds me of NASCAR and swappin' paint. (swappin' sweat?) Not to mention the bloody shins from spike marks.
  • The women's 1500m made the men's 5000 look like infants in a sandbox. Girls can be mean. When the leader was pushed to the ground I was thinking roller derby.
  • They're in Germany, but the commands are in English...with a German accent. Commands in German would sound so much more appropriate and official. Zerkratzen! Stellen! Gehen!
Knowing how us Yanks like to keep score, the first place US wins 10 gold medals while Jamaica runs a close second with 7 golds. Itty-bitty Jamaica?

Aside...NBC did a great job showing off Berlin. It's such a beautiful city, rich in history, and the camera work was fantastic. I now love Berlin in HD.

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