September 2009
CAN YOU TAKE ONE MORE COLUMN about Eugene and the 2012 Olympic Trials? That contentious subject came to life again after the USATF Championships where the USATF and Oregon heads, Doug Logan and Vin Lananna, had serious discussions (see p. 43).

Although it was initially announced that the meet’s ’12 format would change to a 6-day, 2-weekend setup—a format espoused in this column (among other places) in April—that position has now been backed off from somewhat.

It appears there remains a chance of retaining the same 10-day format (with 8 days of competition) that has been used—with minor modifications—since the ’68 event. Rumors won’t go away that mega-sponsor Nike was so pleased with the ’08 product that it opposes any change for the meet’s next edition.

I obviously have no problem with the 6/2 setup, but as my March column pointed out, I like the OT just as it is. The 10-day is just fine by me. My bottom line is I’m just glad that wiser heads appear to have prevailed in the scheduling decision and the Project 30 task force’s recommendation of a 5-day meet has been given the heave-ho.

Looking at the big picture of what’s good for the overall health of the sport, I found the 5-day proposal to be totally unacceptable. Indeed, it’s T&FN’s stance that even the World Championship Trials can’t be done properly in the shortened time frame which they have been allotted (We Think, p. 49), so long as they are commingled with the Junior Championships.
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IF THE 6/2 PLAN comes into being, the big question then is, “How do you fill the four weekdays that bridge the two weekends?” There’s talk of the Paralympics Trials, and/or the Junior Championships. Smarter marketing people than I will have to gauge whether or not the Paralympic meet would fly but my guess is that the average track & field fan wouldn’t have a lot of interest.

I think the Junior Championships would be a solid seller, and I’d add the Multi-Events Championships to the mix as well. The decathlon and heptathlon just put too much strain on a facility—even one with maxed-out runways/pits/circles like Hayward Field sports—for them to be held at the same time as the rest of the meet.
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I’D LIKE TO SEE THE NCAA return to its old scheduling of having the multis as a separate couple of days lead-in to the NCAA Championships. It’s a lose-lose to have too many events going on at once. The fans can’t enjoy the meet as well and too many athletes lose their chance for a moment in the sun.

Don’t you think a great time would be had by all if the multis were staged with an open-field policy? i.e., keeping safety concerns paramount when implements were being thrown, allow the fans onto the infield to surround each of the jumping and throwing venues. Up-close-and-personal to the max.

A win-win for both fan and athlete.