T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....


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T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby aaronk » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:43 pm

Not sure whether it's "kosher" to be "critical" of the magazine we so love and honor.
Also not sure if "current events" is the proper forum. (Maybe "historical"??)
That said, I want to offer my views on what I miss most from earlier years (decades!!!) of T&FN, and why.

I've read 56 years of T&FN (1957-2012), plus the OG issue from 1956.
I've either subscribed, bought them at newsstands/running stores, or read them after the fact with the Bound Volumes.
I've read EVERY WORD (even a few ads!!) of EVERY issue!!
I will continue buying/reading it until I breathe my last!!

BUT....

as Bob Dylan sang a few years ago, "Things Have Changed".

Look at the issues from the 60's.
Most were just 24 pages.
Yet there was more (MUCH more!!!) "news", more meet results, more statistical info in those 24 pages than we currently get in 48 or 60 or more!!

Lists (except for the Annual issue and the HS lists) have all but disappeared.
We used to get monthly Top Ten's (or 15's) for the World, the USA, Collegiate, AND High School.
Maybe not all of them in every issue, but they were a regular offering.

Instead of a giant photo on the front page (cover!!), we had news headlines (and the beginnings of the stories) and a couple of smaller photos. It was sort of like the early USA Today!!
But if there was a WR broken, or just some great early season marks (or late summer), we didn't have to flip through pages of features and interviews to get to the "meat".

I know, I know!!
Computers, the Net, going online....changed everything!!
(I also miss the PRINT edition of Track Newsletter!!)
And we'll never go back!!
We should feel "lucky" the print edition of T&FN is still available!!

Anyway, just wanted to say....

I still love you very much, T&FN.....
but I wish you'd go back to wearing the clothes you wore when we first met!!
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Marlow » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:52 pm

Things are never as good as they were in the good old days. They are much, much (much!) better. T&FN is now only a 'historical hard-copy' of what were learn instantaneously on the internet, exactly as it should be.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby meatball » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:15 pm

i think of these things quite often , how much evrythings is changing , i'm sure we are all lucky tnf is still hanging in there i go back to the rome 60 edition and while i'd prefer the older editions , how long would it take in the 60's and 70's to get results from meets pre internet? if i hit the lottery before i croke i'll fork it over to tnf and we'd all be singing.long live our sport.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby ExCoastRanger » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:38 pm

I'll see your Bob Dylan and raise you a Carly Simon: "These are the good old days."
I appreciate what I consider the evolution of the magazine and sincerely hope it continues.
I'm a current subscriber and have read T&FN on and off since the late '70s. I've long enjoyed repeatedly pouring over the lists and stats, and have always considered it a journal of record for the sport.
Disclaimer: I have never been one to archive issues for reference years down the road like many on this forum do.
The challenge of timliness for certain stats, results and lists, and the easy accessibility of that info online has been discussed here and in the magazine plenty (see last month's editorial, referencing the exact same topic years before).
To meet that challenge and to replace some of what is bound to be out-of-date statistical content (which even still many old-school readers insist the magazine continue even to the point of threatening to cancel subscribtions), we've seen T&FN deliver more feature-driven material in addition to interviews -- which have always been a strong point for the mag.
And I like it.
It turns out these guys can really write.
And after decades of working at it, they know what to write about.
Give 'em enough column inches and they can really shine. What used to be small boxes or sidebars in the old days have matured into worthy journalism. Last month's pieces on Dan Pfaff, Salazar and Rupp and the NCAA track indexing were really good and informative reads.
I sympathize with T&FN's struggle to be true to its long history, to maintain its current readership and hopefully attract new subscribers in the "digital age." Personally, I think it's headed in the right direction.
Last edited by ExCoastRanger on Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby aaronk » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:20 pm

Great...and civil....replies....so far!!
(I somehow thought I'd be sent to T&FN Message Board Purgatory!!)

I've thought about the changes ever since they began....especially after the monthly lists were stopped (except for HS)....and after the print TN was stopped, about 10 years ago!!
(I'd subscribed to TN for 12 years!)

As I've noted before, I've compiled (and keep up-to-date) a 500+ page T&F Record Book, and have done so for decades!!
Before T&FN changed, and before TN stopped their print edition, I relied heavily on T&FN (and TN) to supply me with the needed stats to revise my "book".

Now, and for the past 10 years or more, I've had to rely instead (or mainly) on Peter Matthews Athletics Annual, the FAST Annual, Jack Shepard's HS Track, and yes, the internet, for these stats.

I like the feature stuff and the interviews.
I appreciate that such old standbys as On Your Marks, Last Lap, Status Quo, and Track Shorts (as well as Letters to the Editor!) have continued in the "new" T&FN.

I'm just saying I miss....REALLY miss...the way it was in the 60's.
(Even the MUSIC was better then!! :D )

Anyway, thanks for your remarks, everyone!!
Keep 'em coming!!
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Per Andersen » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:29 pm

We live in different times now and I still put everything else on hold when I get my T&FN.

But my goodness! Read the reports from, say, the Olympic warm-up meets in California in 1956 (November issue). It blows you away.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby kuha » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:11 am

Per Andersen wrote: But my goodness! Read the reports from, say, the Olympic warm-up meets in California in 1956 (November issue). It blows you away.


Exactly. The depth of detail in those old reports is just wonderful. And there are endless juicy tidbits of data sprinkled in sometimes less than expected places. It was the sheer density of info that was so great.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Gabriella » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:20 am

I have a general issue with the standard of journalism in our British mag. I don't read TFN hardcopy, but our British version is Athletics Weekly. 'Back in the day' we used to have that and 'Athletics Today', and I too couldn't wait to get them in the post. I used to wet myself when I got the end of year review and rankings analysis!

Even though we have access to the net I would still buy a hardcopy mag if the journalism was spot on or if there were interesting articles. But the level of writing is terrible. Race analysis consists of every sporting cliche in the book. There is no proper analysis at all, no mention of technique or form; it just seems to be stuff like "X started off well but was caught by Y on the bend. But X then pulled away in the straight to finally got the gold they deserve" I mean, really, is this the best they can do? :shock: :roll:

I want the writers to point out things we might have missed, I want to read an interesting slant on the race, I want to learn some interesting stat or fact. And if they can't offer that then I at least want to read an interesting writing style or something witty. I don't want school-boy level journalism.

I remember an old article on the women's 400mh where Tatyana Ledovskaya was described as "always looking like she has just returned from an all-night party". The straps around her ankles and knees were mentioned and the article went on to say "it must have been some party". Now this is what I'm talking about :D. We like this: on Drechsler, "six foot tall and with a determined expression", but we don't like this: on Ennis "Britain's Golden Girl Jess'.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Marlow » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:08 am

Gabriella wrote:I used to wet myself when I got the end of year review and rankings analysis!

I've mentioned this before, but what T&FN does BEST and should (IMO) be their main focus (as a print entity, that we can use as hard-copy resource material) are the Annuals and the Preview issues (HS, NCAA, USATF, WC/OG). I'm one of those geeks who not only saves his issues, but I bind them and place them on my bookshelves within reach of my desk (I have a study with desk, rolling chair, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that extend 12 feet behind me on both sides. T&F occupies the most accessible parts of the room (i.e., my actual job is lower priority!!). These issues are referred back to, again and again.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby ExCoastRanger » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:19 am

Marlow wrote:I've mentioned this before, but what T&FN does BEST and should (IMO) be their main focus (as a print entity, that we can use as hard-copy resource material) are the Annuals and the Preview issues (HS, NCAA, USATF, WC/OG).



Those are great. And relevant. I like year-end lists too. And lists you never thought of, like the recent front-page link to KKN's marathon stats, which could certainly be a useful reference in hard copy. Having several stat-dense issues a year must continue to be a T&FN thing. Compiling those stats, plus the years of experience T&FN has to put them in context, also makes for some really great story ideas that should probably get more than one or even two pages for the rest of the year.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Marlow » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:50 am

ExCoastRanger wrote:Compiling those stats, plus the years of experience T&FN has to put them in context, also makes for some really great story ideas that should probably get more than one or even two pages for the rest of the year.

Speak it, brother. That's the other (necessary) side of the coin: in-depth profiles that give the stories behind the stats. Those are not hard news, so they don't need to be as timely as event reports, and are perfect for the print version. 75% of what I read in T&FN I already know from coming here, so what I really want is a statistical repository and some in-depth insights into WHY what's going on is going on. There are at least two stories that I have never read (and I guess I never will), what the iAAF's logic (sic) was in reinstating Semenya and why Logan REALLY got fired.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby gh » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:23 am

Per Andersen wrote:We live in different times now and I still put everything else on hold when I get my T&FN.

But my goodness! Read the reports from, say, the Olympic warm-up meets in California in 1956 (November issue). It blows you away.


Of course, in 1956 T&FN didn't carry women's news or road racing. In the general context we didn't cover—because they weren't part of the NCAA—the steeplechase, 400H, triple jump or hammer. And there were almost no pictures (none in color). And the type was of a size endorsed by the national optometrist's association.

If you think you can sell such a product today, please do so!
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby kuha » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:27 am

gh wrote:
Per Andersen wrote:We live in different times now and I still put everything else on hold when I get my T&FN.

But my goodness! Read the reports from, say, the Olympic warm-up meets in California in 1956 (November issue). It blows you away.


Of course, in 1956 T&FN didn't carry women's news or road racing. In the general context we didn't cover—because they weren't part of the NCAA—the steeplechase, 400H, triple jump or hammer. And there were almost no pictures (none in color). And the type was of a size endorsed by the national optometrist's association.

If you think you can sell such a product today, please do so!


All totally true. But the larger point is the sheer quantity of data. I don't want to put anyone on the task, but how many more words were there in a 1956 issue than a typical 2012 issue? I'm guessing it might be as high as 8 or 10 times as many.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby ExCoastRanger » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:13 pm

Well yeah, but we have to cut the number of words down to make the type bigger so the old guys can still read it.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby kuha » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:21 pm

ExCoastRanger wrote:Well yeah, but we have to cut the number of words down to make the type bigger so the old guys can still read it.


Or live with a microscope strapped around your neck. Works just fine for me.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby unclezadok » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:32 pm

I'm fine with the current version (subscriber since only 1967, so I'm a newcomer). But I have a very distinct memory of the account of the 1956 OG 1500m (I ordered the back issue). I think it took me longer to read than it took Kuts to run the 10,000m. But it was fun to read.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby ExCoastRanger » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:52 pm

unclezadok wrote:I'm fine with the current version (subscriber since only 1967, so I'm a newcomer). But I have a very distinct memory of the account of the 1956 OG 1500m (I ordered the back issue). I think it took me longer to read than it took Kuts to run the 10,000m. But it was fun to read.


I found the event-by-event recaps of one of the fairly recent championships a really fun read. Yeah the meet had been over three or four weeks and all the results were known, but good stories by good storytellers should often be repeated. It's how history is learned and myths and legends are made.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby aaronk » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:59 pm

I know we'll never go back, and I know most of the reasons.
(The Internet is immediate, T&FN covers many more areas of the sport than 40-50 years ago, the economy.)
But then I look at one of the old issues I've kept.....I had to sell most of my back issues (1962 through 1999) a few years ago because I needed money!!....one from September 1965.....and I can't help but long for those "good old days".
Here's a brief list of that issue's contents, page by page.

Page

1....logo, 2 photos, start of 2 stories on the distance record breaking that year
2....page 1 story cont.....start of WR story (Zsivotzky's 241-11)
3....story of 2K record, 2 photos, "Office Memo" and "Postal Competitions"
4&5....CC's season start, 2 pages of US Report (lots of marks given)
6&7&8....a very detailed European Report...also tons of marks
9......full page ad
10&11....the World List (top 20 in most events)
12....full page ad
13....story on "Track Civil War"....profile of Bob Day, including yr-by-yr progression in 3 events
14&15....2 full pages of a detailed report on US distance runners, from the elites down to the preps
16....JC Jr Champs report, Prep Panorama
17. "All Time Negro Records" (How quaint!!!!!), Quotable Quotes
18&19....On Your Marks, Letters to the Editor, Profile of a Coach (Frank Potts)
20....Of People and Things (by Bert Nelson), Age Group Track (this one mostly about Keith Koch, a then-10 yr old speedster)
21....College Freshman (Postal) Championships (top 6 listed in each event, with marks)
22....column by Jim Dunaway, plus 3 small ads
23.....Track Talk by Cordner Nelson, plus 3 photos
24.....back page....a full page ad.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Per Andersen » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:44 pm

gh wrote:Of course, in 1956 T&FN didn't carry women's news or road racing. In the general context we didn't cover—because they weren't part of the NCAA—the steeplechase, 400H, triple jump or hammer. And there were almost no pictures (none in color). And the type was of a size endorsed by the national optometrist's association.

If you think you can sell such a product today, please do so!

No, you're right. I can't believe I put up with that kind of rag and from the other side of the globe and no color pictures :shock:
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby Pego » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:54 am

I did not discover T&FN until the mid-eighties and enjoy every issue (summer issues a lot more than the winter ones). It is not the degree of reverence Marlow describes, but I never threw any issue out, they are piling up to Mrs Pego's chagrin. Arrival of T&FN issue has been a bright point in my life and I would miss it a lot should it demise. Hope not.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby 26mi235 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:21 pm

Pego wrote:I did not discover T&FN until the mid-eighties and enjoy every issue (summer issues a lot more than the winter ones). It is not the degree of reverence Marlow describes, but I never threw any issue out, they are piling up to Mrs Pego's chagrin. Arrival of T&FN issue has been a bright point in my life and I would miss it a lot should it demise. Hope not.


It is the only periodical that I do longer toss. Of course, I do not now both to get professional journals.
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Re: T&FN: Oh, for the good old days....

Postby jhc68 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:00 am

Part of the nostalgia is that decades ago we old-timers were much more hyped-up emotionally about T&F info and starved for news at the same time.
Even before discovering T&FN I used to scour the back pages of the sport section for the agate print in the LA Times listing the top HS marks in the country. Then I would try to figure out where the hell all those places were (Del Rio Texas, Pittsburg and Lemoore California, etc, et. al.) where 17 year olds could run so fast and jump so high and imagine either small town supermen or else high jump bars with gigantic sags in the middle or hurricane force winds pushing sprinters along the whole 220 yd straight-away.
Exciting stuff!
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