Daily News Roundup: Whither the Marathon Olympic Trials?
Jesse Squire | On 13, Jan 2014
Leading into December’s USATF Annual Meeting, it was expected that the host site of the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials would be announced by the end of the weekend (December 9). USATF’s official twitter account announced that it would be (a tweet that has since been deleted).
The finalists were Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Houston, with the first figured as a long shot and the latter two as favorites. Houston has big-meet experience (including the Trials in 2012) and Los Angeles is a major media market, one that has some experience with a big race.
But the weekend came and went without any announcement. There still is no announcement. Rumors have flown as to what happened and why. Finally, we have a published explanation of the what, if not the why.
This morning, David Monti tweeted out a link to the December issue of Road Race Management, an industry publication, which included a long and very interesting article about just what happened at the Annual Meeting. (Monti is the publisher of Race Results Weekly and the elite athlete coordinator for the New York City Marathon.) Follow the link, it’s well worth your time.
In a nutshell: the evaluation committee voted 5-0 in favor of Houston, but that doesn’t mean the site selection is a done deal. It appears that USATF CEO Max Siegel wants the Trials race to be held in Los Angeles, and bylaws gave him the authority to make that decision himself until a rules change voted in by the membership just days earlier.
For another perspective of what occurred here, I turn to Becca Gillespy Peter of Club Northwest and polevaultpower.com. This is from a multi-page discussion at Let’s Run:
The Board of Directors has the power to amend the bylaws with a 2/3 vote. The first thing that happened at the Board meeting was Stephanie making a motion that they amend Reg[ulation] 18 back to its original form (which would then give [CEO] Max [Siegel] the power to veto Houston and go with LA for the marathon).
There was much discussion. As a previous poster mentioned, Willie Banks had a huge issue with the [Board of Directors] overruling what over 90% (the vote was ~340-30) of the delegates wanted [in regards to Regulation 18]. Bob Hersh pointed out that if the Board did that, the general body may well turn around and strip them of their ability to amend bylaws.
Eventually the board tabled the motion. So at the next Board meeting, they could still undo the will of the people.
[USATF President] Stephanie [Hightower] emphasized that the marathon site selection was not a done deal.
Peter goes on to say that marketing and television considerations (and possibly USATF’s financial health) are probably why Siegel prefers Los Angeles. And Siegel was hired for his marketing ability, after all. If Houston offers a superior from the perspective of the athletes, it’s in the short term, the ’16 Trials alone. If LA offers better TV and media exposure and would earn more money for USATF, that’s also in the interests of the athletes but in the long term. The needs of the athletes versus the needs of the media and fans is the essential tussle in track and field and road running, one that few if any other sports have.
Kevin Sully sums up the week’s action and more in the Monday Morning Run.
I catch up on the weekend’s college action in the College Weekend Recap.
Runner’s World’s Morning Report has all the weekend’s news.
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