AMBITION – AMNESIA – STUPIDITY

This whole internet, cybernetics thing really intimidates me. More some times, than others, but nevertheless, I am generally very reluctant to open up on this machine. Since my last effort I have been even more frightened by the fact that people from literally all over the world have queried me about when I was going to post another effort. The scope and breadth of the inqueries, coupled with the inherent fear in me,  were enough to drive me backward. That was until Tom Jennings in the lobby of the Lennox Hotel, two weekends ago, mentioned that he enjoyed reading the posts. We were there for the NEW BALANCE MEET in Boston and in passing he shared that he found the offerings interesting and, at times, entertaining. After all the previous queries, why would Tom Jennings some how push the “go” button in my bloghead ? Tom and I go way back and other than a love of the sport, on the surface have very little in common. He was the head of the PACIFIC COAST CLUB during the 70s and early 80s when that was the premier track and field club in the sport. The PCC had a bluechip list of athletes, especially in the field events. Their presence could actually make or break a major meet.  The one outstanding characteristic of the PCC for me, however, was the fact that despite the fact blacks played a disproportionate role in the sport on the competitive level,….. PCC had no black athletes !  I was once brazen enough to ask Tom why his club had no black athletes, he was equally brazen in stating to my face that black athletes were “trouble”. After that exchange I was impressed with what I thought was a racist position and attitude,…. but equally impressed with the fact that he stated what he honestly felt in the most candid way allowable under the circumstances. So when he made his comments in Boston, I knew that I was getting an honest assessment from a knowledgeable person in the sport. The outshoot is, you are reading another offering from me after a lapse of months.

Recently I got an announcement from the Development  Hurdle Chair of USA Track and Field about competitive  opportunities for hurdlers this spring. The announcment was accompanied with a list of venues where these events were going to take place. The Hurdle Chair is an ambitious young man and is probably excited about the opportunity to finally get into the programmatic depth of the event. However, my response back to him was to point out that none of the venues he, and the overall Development Chair,  had selected were on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges. To me this was ambition that had lapsed into amnesia at best, and stupidity on the other end of the spectrum. The reason for this is the fact that Historically Black Colleges have always been in the forefront of sprint and long sprint events since the 50s. In particular as far as the hurdles are concerned, HBCs have played an esepecially critical and significant role. Lee Calhoun, from North Carolina Central, was the first 110 meter hurdler to win the the event in back to back Olympics( 1956 and 1960 ). Roger Kingdom ( Pittsburgh ) did the same thing in 1984 and 1988. Between Lee Calhoun – gold – in 1956 and 1960, and David Oliver – bronze – ( Howard University )  in the 110 hurdles in 2008, a very impressive and unavoidable record of HBC excellence has taken place. It goes as follows: 1968 Willie Davenport  – gold – ( Southern University ), Leon Coleman  – 4th ( Winston Salem ), 1972 Rod Milburn – gold – ( Southern University ), Willie Davenport – 4th – ( Southern University ), 1976 Willie Davenport – bronze – ( Southern University ) Charles Foster – 4th – ( North Carolina Central ) . This record of excellence should be recognized and honored in the geographical and the practical selection of venues to host development events in the hurdles. North Carolina A. and T. has one of the very best track and field surfaces and venues in the country. The MONDO surface there is fast and there have been major events hosted there from NCAA Regionals and Junior Olympics to the New Balance High School Meet. Texas Southern, has one of the most exciting meets in America and a recently new surface. It also boasts the first person to run under 10 flat in the 100 meters, electronically timed, Jimmy Hines ( 1968 100 meter champion and world record holder ).

At the end of the day, for the above to be ignored is worse than amnesia. Further, when the practical and prudent, not to mention politically correct, factors are factored in, the decision not to include HBCs in the overall development scheme is just plain stupid !          

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