NY, Boston should go amateur.


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NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby larwood » Mon Nov 03, 2003 6:53 am

After watching the snoozefest yesterday that
use to be called the NYC marathon, I was wondering why doesn't NY, and Boston, go completely amateur? i.e. no prize money. Watching
the race on tv left me with the same feeling I had watching Boston last spring: the equivalent of watching a porn film, no emotion and everyone just going for a pay day. I am not talking xenophobia here. The WCs in Paris, especially Geb and Kebele were very exciting, but my main thought yesterday, and in April, was why are they paying these runners all this money? I have been involved in the sport over 30 years, and I don't recognize anyone! As far as I can see NY and Boston would save themselves a pile, and make a more compelling race by getting rid of appearance and prize money and go strictly amateur. The winner might be 2:24, but at least it would have more drama than the bore that we are subjected to now.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:21 am

Ah, a "Modest Proposal." As seemingly radical as this is, I have to agree. We've had a "Generic Kenyan" issue for years in this country--and I am NOT being xenophobic, or any other nasty -ism in saying this. I'm referring to the problem of (seemingly) nameless, faceless athletes who fill 6 or 8 of the top 10 spots in nearly every US road race. I'm ALL FOR them making an honest living--but the result has been to choke off any real domestic interest in these events. This is the downside of professionalism: competent tedium. I care very much about 27-minute 10,000 runners, Kenyan or otherwise. I care nothing at all for 29-minute 10k runners or their equivalent at other distances. If US races refused to pay any prize money, the absolute "quality" might well drop, but the results might actually be of greater intrinsic interest.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:34 am

Why because we as Americans can not compete. Excuse me why I call BS. The prize money should stay and we should get off our lazy asses and compete.

This years NYC was not extraordinarily fast despite the warm weather. Maybe a charismatic American should step up. Any takers?

We don't see alot of emotion from the Kenyans because many of them believe it shows weakness (a Spartan attitude) and they don't want to give any of their 10,000 other world class country men any opening to think of beating them.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Powell » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:58 am

>I'm referring
>to the problem of (seemingly) nameless, faceless
>athletes who fill 6 or 8 of the top 10 spots in
>nearly every US road race.

I'd like to point out that to anyone outside the US, Martin Lel (reigning world HM champion), Rodgers Rop (defending NYC champion) etc. are way more 'nameful' and 'faceful' than all the Scott Larsons, Matt Downins et al. And to the 99.99% of the US population (i.e. everyone who doesn't subscribe to T&FN), both groups are equally nameless and faceless. Maybe the real problem is that the people who frequent this board pay too much attention to the crappy US runners and too little to the world's best?
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:39 am

>>I'm referring
>to the problem of (seemingly)
>nameless, faceless
>athletes who fill 6 or 8 of
>the top 10 spots in
>nearly every US road
>race.

I'd like to point out that to anyone
>outside the US, Martin Lel (reigning world HM
>champion), Rodgers Rop (defending NYC champion)
>etc. are way more 'nameful' and 'faceful' than
>all the Scott Larsons, Matt Downins et al. And to
>the 99.99% of the US population (i.e. everyone
>who doesn't subscribe to T&FN), both groups are
>equally nameless and faceless. Maybe the real
>problem is that the people who frequent this
>board pay too much attention to the crappy US
>runners and too little to the world's best?

Ding! Bob Barker should give you a new car.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:53 am

Dong! You're wrong. Bekele, Geb, and Tergat are "the best in the world." The top NYC guys are good, but that's all. There IS a difference. The real question is: why should we care about 2:10 marathons? I am NOT being pro-American in my Swiftian "Modest Proposal" above. In a truly "amateur" race, I'd be perfectly happy for Kenyans, Ethiopians, Peruvians, and Ukranians to do well. The point is this: that in a no-money race, all the runners would be out there because they loved to compete and challenge themselves. It would not be a job; it would not be a routine payday. I repeat: the problem with the middling level of professionalism is competent tedium. Which we have in abundance.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Powell » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:13 am

Would you rather have incompetent tedium then? What you're proposing won't make the races more exciting, only slower... The only advantage from your point of view may be that you could end up with an American winner. Lel and Rop may not be quite in Tergat's class, but they're probably two of the world's top 10 marathon runners, or close to the top 10. I don't see how Bekele (who has never run a marathon) is relevant here, or even Geb (who has only made one serious attempt at a marathon).

Let's face it - it's only folks from rich countries who can afford to compete as 'amateurs'. You may say you don't care about nationality of the winners, but by getting rid of prize money, you are effectively prohibiting the poorer 90% of the world's population from competing. The average yearly earnings of an average Kenyan (one who isn't a professional runner) are less than the price of a plane ticket to NYC.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:28 am

<We've had a "Generic Kenyan" issue for years in this country--

the problem of (seemingly) nameless, faceless athletes who fill 6 or 8 of the top 10 spots in nearly every US road race.

the result has been to choke off any real domestic interest in these events. I care very much about 27-minute 10,000 runners, Kenyan or otherwise. I care nothing at all for 29-minute 10k runners or their equivalent at other distances. If US races refused to pay any prize money, the absolute "quality" might well drop, but the results might actually be of greater intrinsic interest. >

Weak.....I agree completely w/Ultrarunner and Powell. On one hand you say you don't care about 29 minutes 10k's, and on the other you say slower times will increase interest? Which is it?

Why is it that you advocate watering down the talent at events rather than simply enjoying the great athletes. Running 2:10 in 60 degree weather is not "good" - it's "great" in my book.

You're "faceless", "nameless", "generic" Kenyan comments show an ignorance of both the athletes competing and the fact that they are - amazingly - real people who guys like me have met, trained with, and befriended. Drive more than 20 miles from your house every once in a while, and you'll realize that there is a great big world out there filled with interesting people.

Steve
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby larwood » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:29 am

My argument is an economic one. While watching the Boston telecast last spring, it was mentioned that 4 million dollars were spent on appearance and prize money. Meanwhile, on the screen there were 10 or so Kenyans running in a line across the street in front, going along a moderate pace. My main thought at the time was not how exciting it was (it wasn't) but why are they doling out this money. If none of those runners were there would anyone care? I doubt it. While they are certainly better than American runners, they are not the world's best and come and go with such frequency that they are completely interchangeable.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby BillCarr » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:37 am

This year the Boston winner was over 2:10 and was Kenyan - the top 5 athletes were Kenyan with 5th being 2:12 (including Martin Lei who was 3rd).

At least 4 times, 1975, 1979, 1982, and 1983 a home-grown American has broken 2:10 to win. In 1983 Greg Meyer led an absolute parade to great times for a whole slew of Americans under 2:11. The Kenyans this year would have gotten sent to the dry cleaners by Dick Beardsley of 1982 shape.
And I know it was hot, but it wasn't THAT hot in 2003.

US marathoners simply have to start training together . . . like Bill Rodgers said you need a bunch of folks training at a level for a reasonable marathon time (2:15ish), and then a 2:07-2:08 guy will probably emerge from that crucible of talent after a few years. American marathoners have no such plans, yet.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:43 am

Here is something I posted on another thread that goes to your point. Plain and simple, most current US marathoners don't train hard enough. They train hard but not in comparison with the kenyans of today or the Shorters and Rodgers of yesterday.

Goes back to something Frank Shorter told a friend of mine back in the 70's when asked for his training "secret". Frank said "Secret, what secret? I run 140 miles a week including a 25 mile long run, an interval work-out and stregnth tempo run. Thats seven days of training with two hard days and a long run and a *ell of alot of miles. There is NO secret, just hard work."
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby larwood » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:55 am

Steve, I appreciate your comments that I travel more.

Actually, I have been more than 20 miles from my house. In the 70's I was at the University of Oregon, when the main argument than was all the Africans "taking" track scholarships. And you know what? It was the best thing to happen to American distance running. Guys like Henry Rono, and Josh Kimombwa at Washington State and Mike Musyoki and Suleiman Nyambui at UTEP were the best in the world and were exciting to watch.

And as for getting to know these athletes, when I lived in Boulder a few years ago, I knew several top-flight Kenyans, such as Simeon Kigen, Joseph Kipsang and Bernard Lagat among others and I know how hard they work and train. These runners usually went to school here, got to know the culture and begin recognizable.

But we live in a different world now, and what the answer is I don't know, but there has to be a better way than what is happening now.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 10:36 am

Actually, I think el supremo's message was aimed at me. I appreciate the heat of his response, but still don't think it generates much light. Let me (try to) be clear. I refuse to be blatantly misinterpreted. For example, in my comment about "(seemingly) nameless, faceless..." the (SEEMINGLY) is there quite deliberately--and signifies that these athletes are not literally so, but that many could view them that way (and they DO!!!). To some degree, I'm being ironic and deliberately "provocative" overall (that's the Swift and "A Modest Proposal" references, of course). Thus, I do not really think that professionalism will be rolled back. However, I am serious about the consequences of run-of-the-mill professionalism: many uninsipired races and athletes who are there simply to collect a (often shockingly small) paycheck. This is a tough way to make a living and I do not envy them. Are these people more talented than you and I? Of course (me at least). But no one can pretend that more than a couple of them are among the best distance runners in the world. (And my original comment made it clear that I was not simply talking about marathoners.) I disagree that yesterday's 2:10 was a "great" performance. It was a good world-class performance--that's all. As for my cloistered existence and basic "ignorance"... For whatever it's worth, I've followed track avidly and continuously since 1967, am passionate about the history of the sport, and have gone to more than my share of meets (small, medium, and large) in the US and abroad. Over the past dozen years, for example, I've flown to Europe every summer to see the biggest meets. Trust me: I do get out into that wide, beautiful world. Among the things I've learned is the difference between genuine greatness and mere professional competence. At most of the road races in the US, we see merely the latter. If you find that enthralling, great, but I do not.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 11:18 am

To say that Boston or NYC should either be a kind of world championship--professional only if Geb, Tergat and the like are there--or an amateur fest (like the Marine Corps in D.C. is, and that isn't any more interesting, believe me), doesn't make sense, particularly if we're trying to be as popular as other sports. There are hundreds (thousands?) of professional soccer teams playing games all over the world, few of which have Beckhams playing for them, but the matches involve honest competition by people getting paid. In other words, every major sport has various professional levels; it's not a world-class or amateur deal (even college football is a kind of pro market). If the sponsors ante up $4 million it's because they make a cold market decision that it's worth it to them --
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:45 pm

>Dong! You're wrong. Bekele, Geb, and Tergat are
>"the best in the world." The top NYC guys are
>good, but that's all. There IS a difference.
>The real question is: why should we care about
>2:10 marathons? I am NOT being pro-American in
>my Swiftian "Modest Proposal" above. In a
>truly "amateur" race, I'd be perfectly happy
>for Kenyans, Ethiopians, Peruvians, and
>Ukranians to do well. The point is this: that
>in a no-money race, all the runners would be out
>there because they loved to compete and
>challenge themselves. It would not be a job; it
>would not be a routine payday. I repeat: the
>problem with the middling level of
>professionalism is competent tedium. Which we
>have in abundance.>

So you'd prefer some 2:27 guy from the Bronx win it all?
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 1:00 pm

For those who want NYCM to be amateur due to the times, please consider:

New York and Boston are two of the most difficult courses to run. It is not easy to get well below 2:10 out of those courses. Juma Ikanga's 2:08.01 in New York stood for 13 years (and it took an adjustment of the course on Fifth Ave and 102nd street to break it!!!!).

And if anyone thinks that the sponsors will be around for an amateur NYCM....

....and (with withdrawn sponsorships for NYCM) if you think NYCM will stay afloat (expensive as it is) try paying overtime to NYPD and Sanitation for the five borough cleanup!
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 1:01 pm

My apologies to kuhu1 for my a-bit-too-negative response. Didn't see the (seemingly) part. Just took it (too) personally given the great Kenyan guys I have met over the years.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 1:15 pm

Thanks, man. We're really on the same basic side here... We all care about the sport. We may have differing visions of what it all means, but the interchanges here are--in some real way--conversations between friends...
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 2:05 pm

DF said: "New York and Boston are two of the most difficult courses to run."

Give me a break. These are not two of the most difficult courses. If you think so you need to get out more and run more races. These courses are fairly fast. Yes, London, Chicago and Rotterdam and some others may be flatter but NYC and Boston are good fast courses.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby magpie » Mon Nov 03, 2003 6:06 pm

>My argument is an economic one. While watching
>the Boston telecast last spring, it was mentioned
>that 4 million dollars were spent on appearance
>and prize money. Meanwhile, on the screen there
>were 10 or so Kenyans running in a line across
>the street in front, going along a moderate pace.
>My main thought at the time was not how exciting
>it was (it wasn't) but why are they doling out
>this money. If none of those runners were there
>would anyone care? I doubt it. While they are
>certainly better than American runners, they are
>not the world's best and come and go with such
>frequency that they are completely
>interchangeable.


races run by private entities (such as nycm, boston, *ahem!* chicago, london, etc.) pay athletes only as much as they see fit - as they should be allowed to. they pay out to get a return, they are not running a charity. somebody must care if they are there. lose the professional race and lose national (if so-called "nameless and faceless" 2:10 males are of no interest to the viewing public, just consider how uninteresting "nameless and faceless" 2:18 males [to the average american, caucasian distance runners are no more familiar than those from africa or asia] would be) and international interest/exposure and watch the sponsors jump ship. kiss national broadcasting goodbye, why would any network would want to show even a second of that?
besides, there already are amateur marathons in the u.s. (las vegas, marine corps, houston (though prize money will be reinstituded there next year.))
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 6:15 pm

>DF said: "New York and Boston are two of the
>most difficult courses to run."

Give me a
>break. These are not two of the most difficult
>courses. If you think so you need to get out
>more and run more races. These courses are
>fairly fast. Yes, London, Chicago and Rotterdam
>and some others may be flatter but NYC and Boston
>are good fast courses.

Then why did it take over a decade (and a course adjustment at 5th Ave and 102nd--Mile 23) to break 2:08:01 at NY?
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:39 pm

>DF said: "New York and Boston are two of the
>most difficult courses to run."

Give me a
>break. These are not two of the most difficult
>courses. If you think so you need to get out
>more and run more races. These courses are
>fairly fast. Yes, London, Chicago and Rotterdam
>and some others may be flatter but NYC and Boston
>are good fast courses.>

NY, depending on the weather and wind, is probably 90 secs to 2 mins slower than the pancake courses at the elite level.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Powell » Mon Nov 03, 2003 11:43 pm

Besides, just like with any other distance race, a marathon can't be judged only on times achieved. This year's NYC was a tactical race. These guys could have probably gone 2 mins faster had they gone for it... but the NYC marathon has never really been about fast times.
It's true that this race isn't quite what it used to be in terms of quality, but if anything, it's because there are not enough Kenyans in it, not too many!
And, even if your whole argument was tongue-in-cheek, I will still criticize it for being illogical. You're saying the race was not exciting enough because it was won in a 'slow' 2:10, yet you're suggesting it will be exciting if it's won in 2:24. On the other hand, if you're interested in 2:20ish times, maybe you should have followed the women's race instead :-P It definitely have a better field than the men's, and the times were relatively better as well.
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Re: NY, Boston should go amateur.

Postby Guest » Tue Nov 04, 2003 5:41 am

I DID follow the women's race. It was obviously of much higher caliber than the men's. As for the overall popularity of the race, I will point out that the back-of-the-packers got WAY more media coverage than the guys up front. How much did we read about the Honorable Sean Puffy P. Diddly Combs? And this morning's paper has more info on the folks who staggered through the "race" in 5 hours or 25 hours. I'm not "for" this aspect of the event, but it's apparently what the general media and public focus on. They hardly care about 2:04:55 times, after all, never mind 2:10:30 times. So if it's media coverage and public "excitement" you're after, go for the glitz and sob stories. The obvious answer: Every competitor in a funny costume, celebrities by the score, and lots of "up close and personal" profiles. Heaven!
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