Mommy – Look At What I JUST Did !

It is a standing joke among the athletes I coach ( Joel Brown, Dwight Thomas, David Oliver, etc. ) that I am really baffled by the new electronic gadgets and gear. They are constantly egging and urging me to update my phone and related cyber tools. I was first embarrassed into getting a Blackberry a couple of years back. Just recently I got shamed into “upgrading” to an I-phone. Early this morning the phone rang and it sounded kind of strange because I had grown accustomed to the sound of the Blackberry. So a bit confused I reached for the I-phone anyway.

I thought I told you not to call me this time of day !

I know, I know,…but I work nights and this is the best time for me.

Well,…I work DAYS and this is NOT the best time for me !

You know who this is,..RIGHT ?

Yeah,…I know who this is. I know because you are the only fool to call me at this stupid hour.

Man, you are really ugly and nasty. Are you like this all day ?I just wanted to tell you what I just did,…. I just finished reading your latest blog I thought it….. !

CLICK !

There is a commercial on television that shows a mother standing in the kitchen and her child, who she trying to potty train, comes running in and proudly pronounces and announces,” Mommy look what I just did !”. The look on the mother’s face and her body language reveal that although she is pleased that the child did “potty” by himself – BUT,… obviously he missed the target and fell short of the professed and desired result. That to me mirrors a lot of the stuff that USATF tries to pass off as “best practices” and “progress”.  Let me list an examples of what I mean.

For me, “repetition is a form of emphasis”. That comes from my freshman English class at Tufts College in September of 1952. It has proven to be a very accurate concept, asset and statement. For example, whenever a professor repeated something, I knew that the professor thought it was important. And because he/she thought it was important, it would likely be on the next test. The things that were repeated multiple times were the things I could expect on the final exam.  So before I go forward I want to repeat for the umpteenth time:

Without athletes, there would absolutely be NO rationale or reason for USATF to even exist. Its existence is based solely on the service, benefits, and protection it can provide for its athlete constituency ! Its existence is NOT based and founded on what services athletes can provide to the federation as an a priori assumption. The wants and drives of the administration should in no way be contrary or contradictory to the basic premise that the organization exists to best serve the best interest of  its constituency,…….and not itself and personnel.  To the extent this happens we are talking  fraudulent behavior !

Last winter I was watching the promotional announcements  for the JIMMY V basketball tournaments hosted on ESPN.  Coach V ( Jimmy Valvano )  was a successful basketball coach at North Carolina State University. He was a very charismatic individual and after his team won the NCAA Championship in basketball, he became a minor icon in the sport. Since his very premature death from cancer, and the resulting basketball tournament  and the publicity surrounding the tournament in his name, he has become a major icon in the sport.  All of that is to get to this, ….during the promos for the games it is announced that ALL of the funds raised by the games are going directly into actual cancer research. This is a significant statement  because the I.R.S. and some prominent members of congress are currently looking into the scam that a lot of private-not-for profit organizations and “foundations” are perpetuating because scant amounts of the money they raise goes to the actual cause and constituency for which it is supposed to be serving , For example, PGA  golf tournaments that profess to raise millions of dollars for good causes and charities, are often overburdened with “administrative” and “management” expenses and only a very small portion, if any, ever gets to the designated charity. The PGA itself, which has private-not-for-profit status has on reserve between 700 and 800 million dollars ( thanks Tiger ). There is clearly some sort of disconnect between what it is doing with its funding and what the law  intended to have happen. It is assumed that legitimate and above board non-profits often return upwards  of 80% – 90% of the funds they raise back to the constituency in some sort of meaningful support.  The Jimmy V Fund aside, no one expects, or demands, that ALL money raised be channeled and/or funneled directly to its designated cause and constituency. But we have every right to insist that a disproportionate amount of the funding be directed to the cause and constituency in question.

Now lets look for a moment at USATF. By the Amateur Sports Act, the USOC, and its own by-laws, USATF is required to serve the following athlete constituencies. YOUTH, ELITE and EMERGING ELITE, SENIORS, LDR, and HANDICAPPED. In terms of direct money raised – Youth – with its membership exceeding 70 thousand, contributes approximately 4 million dollars directly to the funding of USATF through the dues and related dollars  its members pay. In a conference call a few months back, Stephanie Hightower, president of USATF , proudly declared that the National Office had very generously contributed 6 hundred thousand dollars to YOUTH Athletics.  Is it a fair and proper return for the YOUTH segment to have approximately 75% of the funding it generates NOT be applied to activities that directly benefit and serve them ?  If you assume an estimated a budget of $16 million dollars, then YOUTH raised 25% of that amount. Where was anything like 25% return to them ? If you agree that YOUTH did not get a fair return and treatment on the money it directly raised, then you are left with the idea that they were fraudulently treated.

USATF is a private-not-for-profit organization. As we have stated above, its mission and mandate is to serve, benefit, and protect the rights of the athletes it is supposed to be serving.  Anything less than that is clearly outside the what non-profit status is supposed to be used for. At some point the board, and athletes, needs to take a leadership role and authorize an independent auditing to determine whether USATF is operating under the accepted and acceptable guidelines of proper distribution and disbursement of funds to its constituencies.

So in the mean time, when the president of the organization exclaims, “Look what we are doing for you.”, I am reminded of that child running up its mother and announcing, “Mommy, look what I just did !

Thanks.

Brooks T. JOhnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

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