It has been quite a while since I sat here sharing thoughts with you about track and field. One of the reasons was based upon the fact that much of what I have shared in the past was critical of the actions or inactions of the new leadership clique of U.S. A. Track and Field. I decided that it was only fair to let up, and call a temporary halt until the new regime had the opportunity to usher and guide the U.S. track and field through the World Championships and IAAF Finals of this year .
Right now I am sitting here listening to Dinah Washington, the jazz and blues
singer. The record is a very soulful rendering, on the Mercury label. The lyrics go like this:
What a difference a day make, 24 little hours
There are sunshine and flowers, where there used to be rain
What has Dinah’s lyrics to do with the World Championships in 2009 ? Simply this, last year at this very same time after the U.S. team mishandled baton exchanges and disqualified both 4 x 100 relays,….. on the way to a total of 23 medals in Beijing. These events set off a shrill and scathing criticism from the new CEO of USATF, Doug Logan. He blamed the showing on bad coaching, insufficient preparation, poor team morale, and general ineptitude on the part of anyone remotely connected to the U.S. team. He promised that now that there was “a new sheriff in town”, we could expect drastic and immediate change and improvement. He set off a chain of events and machinations that were supposed to address and fix all the ills of the U.S. team.
This year at the Berlin World Championships, the very same relay scanario played out, with neither 4 x 100 meter relay making the finals, with a resulting medal count of, ….22 medals.
Now here is where Dinah Washington comes into play. Despite the same relay issues and one less medal than 2008, the “new sheriff” could not heap enough praise on this year’s team. He minimized the relay mishaps, relegating them to something that barely hits the radar screen. Whereas last year ( 2008 ) the mistakes were the focal point and litmus test for all that was worng with the “old regime”.  Now all of a sudden everything is fine and smoothly going ahead toward the stated and self-pronounced guaranteed goal of 30 medals in 2012. After the relay mistakes, Clyde Hart came over to me and said, ” If this guy continues to fix and improve things,…. we may get to where we win 10 medals and lose all four relays !!” You may recall that Clyde authored the quote, ” This guy came in admitting he did not know anything about the sport,…and every time he opens his mouth he proves it !!”
Bottom line there are two responses to this self-serving reversal.
“Where there used to be rain, now they see sunshine and flowers.” .
“To understand where a person really stands,…. you have to know where they sit.”.
Dinah Washington stills carries the day because she is deep, genuine, and truthful in her lament about how the weather changes. The same can not be said for those who make self-serving noises to mitigate the potential of reciprocal criticism.
Brooks T. Johnson
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