Monthly Archives: December 2012

Mini Blog: Expenses of an Amateur

Written by:  Katrina M. Smith, MBA
Date:  December 20, 2012

Olympic sports and the word amateurism have a unique bond in media and the sports world.  This bond is cemented by 19th century ideals of nobility, chivalry, and many other outdated concepts that are hardly applicable to a 21st century audience.  Why these ideals are still herald is beyond me.  In the wake of economic recession, why should athletes be encouraged to maintain an amateur status?  Training, coaches, physical therapy, gas, food, sports drinks, supplements, competitions, travel, running shoes, imaging (MRIs, X-Rays, CAT Scans), icy hot, and spikes all cost money.  Do you really think athletes can cover these expenses and more as amateurs?

Track Rant: Leave Out the Politics!

Written By: Katrina M. Smith, MBA
Date:  December 17, 2012

Enough is enough!  How many more athletes have to suffer at the hand of coaches and their personal politics?  How many?!  For over 30 years, talented young athletes from USATF who enter high school track & field have had to endure the egos, emotions, and superiority complexes of incompetent, male chauvinistic, power monger coaches who don’t give a damn about the dreams, goals, and lives of the athletes they coach.  And for over 30 years, many athletes have been forced to abandon track & field to escape politics, protect their physical development from inferior track programs, and preserve peace of mind during this period of adolescence.  Track & field is supposed to be about becoming your best self!  Exercising one’s God given gifts to the fullest.  Running the fastest or farthest.  Jumping the highest or longest.  Vaulting new heights.  Throwing further than anyone has thrown before.  Track & field is not about man (coach) asserting absolute rule over man (athletes) to become a god among sport by suppressing athletic development and achievement.

…especially at a stipend of only $800 – $3000 a season.  Not a month, but a season!

I’m tired of hearing about athletes fighting to cross the finish line because their coach decided to place a brick wall with an electrified fence to blockade the progress of young athletes.  Soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, and tennis all encourage athletes to join clubs and camps or get trainers during and after the season to improve skills and conditioning.  Yet, track strongly prohibits athletes from even mentioning the idea of training with a club, personal trainer, or other track & field specialists.  Why?  Politics.

What has triggered today’s Track Rant?  I recently received news of the achievements of a local high school freshmen and her blind-sighted coach.  She was the only athlete out of her entire team to advance to state in cross country.  Yet, her high school coach denied her of a team MVP award.  To make matters worse, the award was given to a girl who came in second to last in CIF-Prelims and cost the team a bid to go to CIF Southern Section Championships.  The freshman athlete (whose name shall not be mentioned) entered high school from a club background.  She has worked exceptionally hard every day running across town trying to get the training she needs to keep her skills up.  Thankfully, the Sunshine League was wise enough to recognize her as League MVP.  But, if the league recognized her achievements, what does this action say about the coach?

For legality sake, not all high school coaches are guilty of exercising such politics.  Some have good intensions and care for the athletes they coach.  Still, far too many are guilty and have no awareness of how they affect the landscape of people’s lives each day.  In this era of change, this issue must be brought to the table.  How many more talents does the sport have to lose before this issue is addressed and examined?

In 30 years time, can you imagine just how much heartache, mental and physical pain, these athletes have undergone just to survive politics?   Look back at the record books.  Notice the names of all the runners listed at the top.  Now ask yourself, where are they today?  Are they running?  Did they ever get a scholarship?  Why did they stop running?  Do they ever look back and say what if?  Do they ever get caught looking at footage of athletes past and present?  Do they get excited when they see track & field on TV?  Do they have their children in track and field and live vicariously through them?  Are they ever sighted at meets gazing upon the track with eyes of longing?  Are they ever heard saying, “I used to run…But that was a long time ago.”

Road Running with Dave the “It” Man

By Katrina M. Smith, MBA
Written:  December 13, 2012

Trotting down the blackened roads of some unassuming metropolis is a mysterious fellow sporting super skimpy neon 80s looking distance shorts, a thin partially transparent worn out singlet, the latest Nike kicks valued at $150, and yellow and black Livestrong wrist and head bands.  Each weekday morning, this runner (we’ll call him Dave) wakes up religiously at 5:30AM, brushes his teeth, puts on his running gear, and jogs out of his front door into the chilled dark frosty morn with all the seriousness of a great Olympic competitor.

For 18 years, Dave and his knobby knees runs 10 miles before work sometimes with a group, but most times by himself.  At the end of each fiscal quarter, Dave runs in a major marathon.  He never wins nor does he expect to win.  His best time is 4hrs, 30mins.  Once a month, Dave drives an hour or two from his home to run a 5K, 10K, or half marathon.  Like the marathon, he has never won any of these races nor does he ever come close.  Dave’s best finish in the 5K is 350 of 600.  In the 10K he has finished 578 of 1000…and in the half marathon, he’s finished 3456 of 8000.  Dave does not care much for rankings.  He just watches his time and is happy to finish.  When asked if he competes, Dave emphatically and quite snootily responds, “No!  I do not compete!  I only run for charity.”  Then he turns his head and raises his stopped up nasally pointy nose in the air as if to say, “Run to race?  How absurd!  What do I look like some low class citizen?”  Then when told that the marathons he runs in are technically competitions along with the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon, he replies with a sneer.  “Humph!”  When asked if he’d ever consider running a shorter race, he rolls his eyes.  “Where’s the challenge in that?”

Dave is a strange fellow…one that I shall never quite understand.  There are millions of Dave’s out there in the world…perhaps not as snooty, but their attitude towards competitive running reflects Dave’s rationale.  The Dave’s enter competitive events not to compete, just to participate on behalf of a charity.  More notably, the Dave’s believe their cause is more noble and humble than a competitors.

I have run into the Dave’s on many occasions.  No doubt in my quest to find runners for events, I will continue to meet more…in which case, I will probably greet them with a friendly salutation, “Top of the morning to you Dave!” as I run past them with effortless ease.

To Dave:  Competition is good for the soul.  Nothing wrong with giving to charity.  No one pursuit is better than the other.