track and field historians


Forum devoted to track & field items of an historical nature.

Postby gh » Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:36 am

Not that being a triviameister isn't an estimable skill.
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Postby Avante » Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:19 am

gh wrote:
Avante wrote:
Gordon18 wrote:Avante seems to know his trackandfield history, just pm him.


I do believe I could stump any track historian with a little trivia contest.


trivia and history aren't remotely the same thing


I disagree! All trivia is is a question pertaining to the history of something. Without the historical knowledge there will be no trivia. You wouldn't know what to ask. If I ask who was the first nationally acclaimed sprinter from a HBCU school you will need to know about Tuskegee and Mozelle Ellerbe. Who was the first national caliber sprinter from the SWAC? No not Stone Johnson from Grambling. You better know your history to get this one. Well?

Without historical knowledge you won't do too well in trivia.
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Postby Conor Dary » Fri Oct 30, 2009 8:47 am

I can say I have done well in the past in trivia contests with some respected people in the sport. But to take that knowledge seriously is silly.

A trivia fact is an epsilon of knowledge, and a lot of epsilons, as they say in calculus, still adds up to almost nothing.
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Postby Avante » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:01 am

Marlow wrote:
Avante wrote: When high school boys can dust world class women.

That's why all college sports are so boring and stupid - the pros can beat them!


Wasn't Ato Boldon still at UCLA when he won his 96 Olympic medals? Didn't Richard Thompson win the NCAA and a World Championships silver in the 100m? College guys have been hanging with the pros for years.
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Postby bhagwan » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:10 am

i am interested in the historians. the passing of mr. nelson caused me to think of the people who know the sport and see that value for all of us. trivia and contests of trivia are not the reason i started this thread.

are there other people who can be acknowledged?
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Postby noone » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:12 am

gh wrote:As an analogy think of the world's great Scrabble players. The ones who know all X 2-letter words that are acceptable, and all Y 3-letters (there are such lists; I've seen them).

Does that make them linguists?


I know you were just trying to make an analogy, but your example is not very good. I am a tournament Scrabble player and am currently ranked 426th in North America. That hardly makes me a great player. Yet I (and every other top 1000 player) knows the 90+ 2's and 1000 3's cold, plus we know all the "hooks": For example ALA has the front hooks G, N or T and the back hooks E,N, R and S. A great player is one who knows the entire dictionary, and there are several who do.
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Postby Avante » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:15 am

Conor Dary wrote:I can say I have done well in the past in trivia contests with some respected people in the sport. But to take that knowledge seriously is silly.

A trivia fact is an epsilon of knowledge, and a lot of epsilons, as they say in calculus, still adds up to almost nothing.


History is cool but if you don't learn anything.........
Last edited by Avante on Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Avante » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:32 am

bhagwan wrote:i am interested in the historians. the passing of mr. nelson caused me to think of the people who know the sport and see that value for all of us. trivia and contests of trivia are not the reason i started this thread.

are there other people who can be acknowledged?


I agree it does go far deeper than trivia. To have been there when dirt tracks were all they had and the high jumpers were doing the western roll....cool!
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Postby Avante » Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:46 am

Marlow wrote:
jhc68 wrote:Marlow assumes that there is a difference (aside from age) between college athletes and pros. Not a safe assumption, IMHO.

I was thinking football/basketball primarily. If Avante is not interested in women's sprints because they are 'inferior', he has no business following college ball, which is obviously inferior to pro ball.


You can't be serious! Give me the NCAA Div 1 Title Game anyday over the Superbowl. The college game is far more exciting.

I just don't get excited over 10.85 100's at the World Class level.
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Postby cullman » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:12 pm

gh wrote:Not that being a triviameister isn't an estimable skill.

Being a historian requires a lot of time and hard work while IMHO trivia only requires beer.

cman
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Postby Morten Aarlia » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:19 am

BillVol wrote:Who's Mallon? Does he/she post here?


Bill Mallon is known as bambam here.
Back in 1992 Mallon and Kamper made the great "who's who" book about the Olympic history. Listing all the medalwinners. That's when I first noticed Bill. He has prodused several other great book about the Olympic history, and I have the pleasure to working together with him (amongst others) with the Olympedia olympic database. Take a look at the open database at this link:
http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/
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Re: track and field historians

Postby Vault-emort » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:28 pm

bhagwan wrote:i am wondering who are the sports leading historians?

isn't that a bit like asking 'who are the leading doctors?'??

what kind of specialist are you after? ie men/women/US/other/college/highschool/sprints/distance/etc/etc
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Postby BillVol » Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:54 pm

Morten Aarlia wrote:
BillVol wrote:Who's Mallon? Does he/she post here?


Bill Mallon is known as bambam here.
Back in 1992 Mallon and Kamper made the great "who's who" book about the Olympic history. Listing all the medalwinners. That's when I first noticed Bill. He has prodused several other great book about the Olympic history, and I have the pleasure to working together with him (amongst others) with the Olympedia olympic database. Take a look at the open database at this link:
http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/


Thanks, MA, for taking the time to answer. I didn't know that was bam.
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Postby donny_rat » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:56 am

History and trivia are totally different beasts. Knowing individual historical facts out of context does not make one a historian. Reading books and remembering facts also does not make one an historian. I listen to a lot of music but that does not make me a musician. Historians conduct research and create narratives that explore the meaning of those facts (facts--a concept that is far more fluid than most trivia experts would care to admit). Historians create narratives that usually explore particular questions about how and why things happen. This is not to demean history buffs, people that read history and remember particular bits of information. I know many excellent well published and respected historians who are terrible at trivia related to their historical topics. But that is really not the point to them at all. Understanding why things happen is. I know many people who know lots ot tiny bits of information but could not place them in any kind of historical narrative or context, or use them to make any kind of meaningful arguement. The reality is that most historians that write about sport do not write about who finished in what place and who won what medal. Most sport historians write about the meaning of sport in society and in our culture. The importance of Jackie Robinson is obviously not how many home runs he hit. The importance of Tommie Smith and John Carlos is not that they finished 1st and 3rd, but rather that the event tells us something about our society and culture far beyond the results. The importance of Dick Fosbury is not how high he jumped, but that his success transformed the event. (A transformation that would not have been possible if not for changes in the technology of jumping pits, somehting people rarely consider. There would be not Fosbury Flop if there was no foam padding to land on.)

donaldrat





Avante wrote:
gh wrote:
Avante wrote:
Gordon18 wrote:Avante seems to know his trackandfield history, just pm him.


I do believe I could stump any track historian with a little trivia contest.


trivia and history aren't remotely the same thing


I disagree! All trivia is is a question pertaining to the history of something. Without the historical knowledge there will be no trivia. You wouldn't know what to ask. If I ask who was the first nationally acclaimed sprinter from a HBCU school you will need to know about Tuskegee and Mozelle Ellerbe. Who was the first national caliber sprinter from the SWAC? No not Stone Johnson from Grambling. You better know your history to get this one. Well?

Without historical knowledge you won't do too well in trivia.
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Re: track and field historians

Postby bhagwan » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:23 am

Vault-emort wrote:
bhagwan wrote:i am wondering who are the sports leading historians?

isn't that a bit like asking 'who are the leading doctors?'??

what kind of specialist are you after? ie men/women/US/other/college/highschool/sprints/distance/etc/etc


good point, thank you. my question is meant in the broadest sense so while
recognizing people who deeply love our sport we can then (i hope)
narrow questions to experts in different events.
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Postby TrackDaddy » Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:08 am

Avante wrote:You can't be serious! Give me the NCAA Div 1 Title Game anyday over the Superbowl. The college game is far more exciting.



Doesnt the SB generate more interest world wide and make far more money than the collegiate title game?
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Re: track and field historians

Postby donny_rat » Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:26 pm

The most well known and prolific sport historian in the US is probably Allen Guttmann. He teaches at Amherst College. From Ritual To Record is the most important sprt history book in English in the pst 30 years.

https://www.amherst.edu/people/facstaff/aguttmann





bhagwan wrote:
Vault-emort wrote:
bhagwan wrote:i am wondering who are the sports leading historians?

isn't that a bit like asking 'who are the leading doctors?'??

what kind of specialist are you after? ie men/women/US/other/college/highschool/sprints/distance/etc/etc


good point, thank you. my question is meant in the broadest sense so while
recognizing people who deeply love our sport we can then (i hope)
narrow questions to experts in different events.
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Re: track and field historians

Postby gh » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:12 pm

donny_rat wrote:The most well known and prolific sport historian in the US is probably Allen Guttmann. ....


Most well known? Everybody who has ever heard of him please raise your hand. (I'll admit to not)

Perhaps that needs to be qualified as "well known among the literati"?
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Re: track and field historians

Postby bambam » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:19 pm

gh wrote:
donny_rat wrote:The most well known and prolific sport historian in the US is probably Allen Guttmann. ....


Most well known? Everybody who has ever heard of him please raise your hand. (I'll admit to not)

Perhaps that needs to be qualified as "well known among the literati"?


Hands up. Allen Guttmann is of a different genre than Hymans, DJ, myself, who are probably best termed statisticians or perhaps a term I like, statistorians. Guttmann is an academic sports historian at Amherst University. His best known book in the Olympic world is The Games Must Go On which was a bio of Avery Brundage. He has done a tremendous amount of important work. Probably is in the top echelon of academic sports historians in the US. John Lucas would merit mention with him, but John is older and no longer producing much original work. There are several others, also tend to be older now.
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Re: track and field historians

Postby kuha » Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:22 pm

bambam wrote:Hands up. Allen Guttmann is of a different genre than Hymans, DJ, myself, who are probably best termed statisticians or perhaps a term I like, statistorians. Guttmann is an academic sports historian at Amherst University.


Yes, indeed. I spent an afternoon with him quite a number of years ago. He's really excellent, but looks at sport from a different angle than the sort of historians we've been mentioning above. Guttmann is an esteemed social & cultural historian who looks at history through the lens of sport. He may "know" how good, say, a 3:35 1500m is, but he doesn't really care too much. The many historians who come at the sport from the standpoint of being fans or statisticians, on the other hand, tend to ignore or greatly downplay larger social and cultural ideas. These are two quite distinct worlds which don't overlap all that much...which is a shame...
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Postby gh » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:50 pm

Sorry Kuha, but what a load of crap. You've been brainwashed by the Lausanne elitists into actually believing there's such a thing as "Olympism." Sport = business = politics and vice vice versa.

I'm not an uncultured man, but to believe the "social and cultural ideas" have anything to do with modern sport just doesn't fly for me.

So I'll stand by my contention that Guttmann isn't a sports historian in the vaguest sense of the word as practiced by the vast majority, and that as I suspected, he's revered by those with a lot of letters after their name, but that's pretty much the dividing line.

Excuse me while I go crack another beer.
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Re: track and field historians

Postby BisonHurdler » Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:16 pm

bambam wrote:Probably is in the top echelon of academic sports historians in the US. John Lucas would merit mention with him, but John is older and no longer producing much original work. There are several others, also tend to be older now.




I had the privilege of taking History of the Modern Olympics while I was at Penn State, taught by John Lucas. He had already retired "officially", but still came back to teach that class.

Great stories (obviously), and it was a class I skated through (I guess being a track/Olympics nerd pays off sometimes).

During our discussion of the '88 games, he nearly broke out in tears (this was tempered by visible anger, however) when explaining the whole Ben Johnson thing. His description of "the yellow-eyed monster!" was not to be missed.
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Postby kuha » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:37 am

gh wrote:Sorry Kuha, but what a load of crap. You've been brainwashed by the Lausanne elitists into actually believing there's such a thing as "Olympism." Sport = business = politics and vice vice versa.

I'm not an uncultured man, but to believe the "social and cultural ideas" have anything to do with modern sport just doesn't fly for me.

So I'll stand by my contention that Guttmann isn't a sports historian in the vaguest sense of the word as practiced by the vast majority, and that as I suspected, he's revered by those with a lot of letters after their name, but that's pretty much the dividing line.

Excuse me while I go crack another beer.


What's the anger about? I was attempting to be objective about a very real difference here. Whether you like it or not, it's there and it's real.
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Postby Avante » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:36 am

donny_rat wrote:History and trivia are totally different beasts. Knowing individual historical facts out of context does not make one a historian. Reading books and remembering facts also does not make one an historian. I listen to a lot of music but that does not make me a musician. Historians conduct research and create narratives that explore the meaning of those facts (facts--a concept that is far more fluid than most trivia experts would care to admit). Historians create narratives that usually explore particular questions about how and why things happen. This is not to demean history buffs, people that read history and remember particular bits of information. I know many excellent well published and respected historians who are terrible at trivia related to their historical topics. But that is really not the point to them at all. Understanding why things happen is. I know many people who know lots ot tiny bits of information but could not place them in any kind of historical narrative or context, or use them to make any kind of meaningful arguement. The reality is that most historians that write about sport do not write about who finished in what place and who won what medal. Most sport historians write about the meaning of sport in society and in our culture. The importance of Jackie Robinson is obviously not how many home runs he hit. The importance of Tommie Smith and John Carlos is not that they finished 1st and 3rd, but rather that the event tells us something about our society and culture far beyond the results. The importance of Dick Fosbury is not how high he jumped, but that his success transformed the event. (A transformation that would not have been possible if not for changes in the technology of jumping pits, somehting people rarely consider. There would be not Fosbury Flop if there was no foam padding to land on.)

donaldrat





Avante wrote:
gh wrote:
Avante wrote:
Gordon18 wrote:Avante seems to know his trackandfield history, just pm him.


I do believe I could stump any track historian with a little trivia contest.


trivia and history aren't remotely the same thing


I disagree! All trivia is is a question pertaining to the history of something. Without the historical knowledge there will be no trivia. You wouldn't know what to ask. If I ask who was the first nationally acclaimed sprinter from a HBCU school you will need to know about Tuskegee and Mozelle Ellerbe. Who was the first national caliber sprinter from the SWAC? No not Stone Johnson from Grambling. You better know your history to get this one. Well?

Without historical knowledge you won't do too well in trivia.



Sure something like the Jackie Robinson or the Tommie Smith/John Carlos situations go far deeper than just sports. Then there's Jimmy Hines winning the 1968 Oly 100m in 9.95. What big historical impact did that make other than it was the first legal sub10 and Hines was the first sprinter from a HBCU to win the Olympic 100m? Where's the historical impact of Ronnie Ray Smith running a 9.9? Not everything is some big moment in the grand scheme of things. I consider myself an historian. I know all about Jackie Robinson and his days at Pasadena City and UCLA, I know about his brother Mack. Yes Robinson help change things for black America. Who doesn't know that?

When USC beat up on Alabama back there that changed some things in college football. Jerry Levias the first black football player in the SWC, Harvey Glance the first black sprinter from the SEC to make the Olympic team. They helped change things. If you know who is who you're going to know the story the details/impact/history. Really can't have one without the other.
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Postby 79. » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:00 pm

Robert PARIENTE who wrote the famous book " La Fabuleuse Histoire
de l' Athlétisme" three decades ago, was the French pope of Track and
Field.
I remember the very first time I had heard about T&FN, it was through one
of his articles in the paper L'Equipe.
I was a 12 years-old boy fascinated by these words:
"... la bible de l'Athlétisme."
It was yesterday, I mean 30 years ago. :wink:
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Postby gh » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:31 pm

Parienté's book is easily the best history of the sport I have ever read. And that's saying something, since my knowledge of French is somewhere south of fluent.
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Postby bambam » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:15 pm

gh wrote:Parienté's book is easily the best history of the sport I have ever read. And that's saying something, since my knowledge of French is somewhere south of fluent.


Pariente's book is great, and he himself was a top-notch historian of the sport. He was also very kind and helpful to this track & field fan when in Paris. Like Garry, my French is passable, but not fluent, but he never cared. He also wrote a very nice history of the Olympic Games.
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Postby bambam » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:18 pm

gh wrote:Sorry Kuha, but what a load of crap. You've been brainwashed by the Lausanne elitists into actually believing there's such a thing as "Olympism." Sport = business = politics and vice vice versa.

I'm not an uncultured man, but to believe the "social and cultural ideas" have anything to do with modern sport just doesn't fly for me.

So I'll stand by my contention that Guttmann isn't a sports historian in the vaguest sense of the word as practiced by the vast majority, and that as I suspected, he's revered by those with a lot of letters after their name, but that's pretty much the dividing line.

Excuse me while I go crack another beer.


Despite my affinity for the Olympic Games and the "Olympic Movement" I must admit I share E. Garry's feelings about Olympism. I was interviewed yesterday for a Canadian newspaper about "The Olympic Truce" and what good it has done since the UN has passed a biennial Truce policy since 1993. I said its symbolic, its the IOC trying to act like they are more than they really are, which is a sports organization, and it hasn't done squadoosh.
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Postby kuha » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:34 pm

bambam wrote:
gh wrote:Sorry Kuha, but what a load of crap. You've been brainwashed by the Lausanne elitists into actually believing there's such a thing as "Olympism." Sport = business = politics and vice vice versa.

I'm not an uncultured man, but to believe the "social and cultural ideas" have anything to do with modern sport just doesn't fly for me.

So I'll stand by my contention that Guttmann isn't a sports historian in the vaguest sense of the word as practiced by the vast majority, and that as I suspected, he's revered by those with a lot of letters after their name, but that's pretty much the dividing line.

Excuse me while I go crack another beer.



Despite my affinity for the Olympic Games and the "Olympic Movement" I must admit I share E. Garry's feelings about Olympism. I was interviewed yesterday for a Canadian newspaper about "The Olympic Truce" and what good it has done since the UN has passed a biennial Truce policy since 1993. I said its symbolic, its the IOC trying to act like they are more than they really are, which is a sports organization, and it hasn't done squadoosh.


For what it's worth, I found E Garry's post to me utterly baffling and entirely beside the point. His ranting that social history has nothing to do with sport history is, to me, as wrongheaded as it gets. So wrongheaded, in fact, there's hardly any meaningful response I could make.

As for "Olympism"--since when am I a defender of anything like this? I have NO interest in any Lausanne "elites" and any search through my past posts on the Olympics will reveal pretty starkly that I am NOT a believer in their social/political ideology/rhetoric. And, further, the kind of history that Guttmann represents also has nothing to do with that either. GH's entire take on my post was so wide of the mark that it bordered on parody.

GH's heated comments make it all the more clear that the two "sport histories" in question--one, an academic, socially oriented history; the other, a fan-based and statistically based history--have extremely little overlap. I was simply pointing out that fact, certainly NOT advocating the first over the second. In truth, I have much more personal interest in the second. However, I also recognize the value of some of the academic work in question--and am baffled by any baby-with-bathwater rejection of that model.

But, perhaps all the above was just about brandishing blue-collar bona-fides. If so, jolly good.
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Re: track and field historians

Postby tandfman » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:03 am

BisonHurdler wrote:
bambam wrote:Probably is in the top echelon of academic sports historians in the US. John Lucas would merit mention with him, but John is older and no longer producing much original work. There are several others, also tend to be older now.

I had the privilege of taking History of the Modern Olympics while I was at Penn State, taught by John Lucas. He had already retired "officially", but still came back to teach that class.

Great stories (obviously), and it was a class I skated through (I guess being a track/Olympics nerd pays off sometimes).

During our discussion of the '88 games, he nearly broke out in tears (this was tempered by visible anger, however) when explaining the whole Ben Johnson thing. His description of "the yellow-eyed monster!" was not to be missed.

I just saw the sad news that John Lucas has Alzheimer's.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stori ... ic-legend/
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Re:

Postby noone » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:22 pm

gh wrote:As an analogy think of the world's great Scrabble players. The ones who know all X 2-letter words that are acceptable, and all Y 3-letters (there are such lists; I've seen them).

Does that make them linguists?


As a tournament Scrabble player with a rating of ca 1600, I want to tell you that your analogy is very flawed. Not only the experts know all the 2's and 3's, every tournament player except for the very lowest-ranked know them

It is as if you said "there are actually some track and field geniuses who know who holds all the world records, all the way up to 10,000 metres -- there are actually lists, I have seen them with my own eyes!"

Having said that it is true that Scrabble players do not generally study the meanings of the words they memorize, but only the "hooks".. for example XU takes no hooks but KAY takes an O front hook as well as an O back hook! Don't ask me what XU means..

By the way Nigel Richards, a New Zealander who now represents Malaysia has just won the North American Championshop for the 3rd time!
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Re:

Postby catson52 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:08 am

bambam wrote:
gh wrote:Parienté's book is easily the best history of the sport I have ever read. And that's saying something, since my knowledge of French is somewhere south of fluent.


Pariente's book is great, and he himself was a top-notch historian of the sport. He was also very kind and helpful to this track & field fan when in Paris. Like Garry, my French is passable, but not fluent, but he never cared. He also wrote a very nice history of the Olympic Games.


Pariente's two books are treasures. When they were up for sale at a TFN site back in the late 70s, I acquired both with some difficulty - as I was then living in "a third world country". The capsule biographies of famous athletes, cartoons, and photos, add to the books values to a student of history in its widest sense.
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Re: Re:

Postby dj » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:14 am

noone wrote:By the way Nigel Richards, a New Zealander who now represents Malaysia has just won the North American Championshop for the 3rd time!


You give great comfort to the typo-afflicted. If a scrabble master can typo, that takes the rest of us off the hook! :)
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Re: track and field historians

Postby Powell » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:40 am

That's coz you don't use a keyboard while playing Scrabble
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Re: track and field historians

Postby wamego relays champ » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:03 am

tandfman wrote:
BisonHurdler wrote:
bambam wrote:Probably is in the top echelon of academic sports historians in the US. John Lucas would merit mention with him, but John is older and no longer producing much original work. There are several others, also tend to be older now.

I had the privilege of taking History of the Modern Olympics while I was at Penn State, taught by John Lucas. He had already retired "officially", but still came back to teach that class.

Great stories (obviously), and it was a class I skated through (I guess being a track/Olympics nerd pays off sometimes).

During our discussion of the '88 games, he nearly broke out in tears (this was tempered by visible anger, however) when explaining the whole Ben Johnson thing. His description of "the yellow-eyed monster!" was not to be missed.

I just saw the sad news that John Lucas has Alzheimer's.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stori ... ic-legend/


And according to a release from Penn State linked a the home page, John Lucas passed away on Friday November 09.
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Re: track and field historians

Postby bambam » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:58 pm

John was my roommate at 3 Olympics - 1996, 2000, and 2004. I have known him since 1980. Until he developed dementia he sent me a letter (real-live old-fashioned letter) almost every week after his wife died. He went downhill very fast after his wife's death in 2010. He was a kind, kind man. He was a good runner as a young man, ran several Boston Marathons, and competed in the Olympic Trials in the 10K in 1952. He coached track & XC at Penn State for about 10 years from about 1958-67 before turning exclusively to sports history. One thing he was very proud of was that he ran a 10K on every Olympic track from 1960-2004 the day before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, always getting permission from the Organizing Committee and/or the IOC. We were able to get Jayne Pearce (LOCOG 2012 Media Director, formerly with the IAAF and Atlanta 1996) to send him some London 2012 memorabilia this summer. I hope he was able to know what they meant and that they brought him some solace in his final days. I'll miss him and miss those weekly letters.
bambam
 
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