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Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
Noble Canyon 50km Trail, September 20, 2014

Sunday, August 22, 2004

IOC bans Olympic Journals, read on!

August 22--IOC bans Olympic Journals, read on!

In their infinite wisdom, the IOC has publicly denounced the practice of keeping Olympic Journals. I say, poo-poo on you, IOC, but thanks for throwing us this big party every four years. The IOC's argument has something to do with controlling broadcast rights that sponsors have paid millions to attain. Check out the article. One of the best parts of the Olympics is the camaraderie, the coming together of nations in a peaceful gathering. What's wrong about sharing that with friends, family, and even strangers back home? Wouldn't the fostering of the Olympic spirit through a personal website bring more attention and adulation to the movement as a whole? I say, pass this link on to as many people as you can so they call all share in the 'illegal' American practice of free press and democracy. I shall not be silenced! :)

I've always been troubled by the 'business' aspect of the Games, the commercialization of sport. When I was a kid, perhaps I was naive (and I still am, I fear), but I loved to run and kick a ball because it was fun. I didn't need someone to tell me that winning was important, I just wanted to run as fast as I could or score as many goals as I could or stop the other team from scoring them. Slowly, as I grew up and started competing at regional and then national competitions, I began to sense an underlying politic in sport. Some athletes were favored over others, some sports were considered better than others, it wasn't all about having fun. Winning became increasingly important. And now at the Olympic level, I think it's even worse. Don't get me wrong, winning is great. Like every athlete here, I love to win. But I love to have fun doing it, too.

In meetings with officials from the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee) and USATF (USA Track and Field) athletes are reminded that we are a commodity and that our audience is a potential market. We are told that the only thing sponsors want is 'medals, medals, medals.' If we are in a sport that can't provide medals for the U.S. bank account, we won't receive any funding. It is as if we are employees of some corporation punching a time clock and not athletes pursuing our athletic dreams. I like being an athlete for the purity of the sport, first. If someone wants to pay me a bunch of money for doing something I love, great. But I'll do it for free, too.

When I began to serve on the USATF men's development committee a couple years ago, we were given a lecture about how every dollar spent had to directly contribute to an immediate medal success (ie. more sponsor dollars would follow). Only those events that consistently produced medals would get funding and those that couldn't win a medal would have to look elsewhere, events like the hammer throw, racewalk and javelin. One of the longest serving members stood up and spoke at length about the integrity of sports and the need for funding of developmental projects like youth athletics, high schools, juniors, and emerging elite athletes. He asked if that funding was being revoked. When told that it was, he resigned on the spot. I should have applauded his integrity, but it was my first meeting and I had no idea what had just happened until later. Shame on me.

So what's the lesson? Find something that you are good at, enjoy doing, and forget the rest. Run, walk, dance, dream, sing, whatever. Enjoy it.

And now I have to get back to watching the women's marathon. It started 50 minutes ago and they are approaching the 15km mark. The American record holder, and nicest person in the world, Deena Kastor is currently in 17th place trailing world record holder Paula Radcliffe from England. Gotta go. Enjoy the Games.

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