How Long Does It Take To Get To L.A. From Fresno ?

From the  pre-dawn time of the phone ringing I had a pretty good idea of who it was.

Why are you calling me at this ridiculous time of day ?

Because I always call you at ridiculous times of day.

Well make it short because I can still get a couple hours of sleep before I have to get up.

I plan on staying with you until I get to L.A..

To L.A. ? From where ?

Fresno.

How long does it take to get to L.A. from Fresno ?

Depends.

Depends ?

Yeah depends.

Yeah depends on how long I can put up with your foolishness.

What do you mean foolishness ?

I mean foolishness,…..as in stupidity.

You got a lot of nerve calling somebody stupid. I saw your last blog and you spellt Max, what’s his name wrong. I can not believe that you were that stupid to spell his name wrong.

Stupidity had nothing to do with it.

What DID have something to do with it,…. Mr. Know It ?

The spelling was to allow pootbutts like you something to latch on to and criticize.

Really ?

Really.

That is so much B.S., and you know it.

What I know is what I know. And I know about what I blog about. If you want to understand the motive and reasoning behind the spelling, then you can go to the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

The New York Times ? I think you would be lost without that newspaper.

Maybe, but there is a Norman Rockwell painting in the New York Times Magazine section, that was on the cover of the SATURDAY EVENING POST. You can probably google it. The painting is called , SANTA ON THE TRAIN.

Santa on the train ?

Yeah. If you “get” the message of the painting, then you will “get” the significance of the spelling of his name.

I never heard of the Saturday Evening Post.  It must be a newspaper, because I know how much you love newspapers.

It is a magazine.

Magazine ?

Yeah,… a frigging magazine !

Are you sure that I will “get” it if I see it ?

Nope.

Then why in the hell should I do it ?

So you can pretend that you are trying to get the subtle meaning of least one thing.

Ok, ok,….so I am not the smartest watermelon to fall off the truck. But you seem to feel the same way about those people in Indianapolis.

Not all of them,…just the leadership clique. The rest are hard working people who think they know more than the grassroots cadre and volunteers that coach and work with the athletes.

How do you know that ?

Because some of them have told me.  That is the whole rationale to justify the troika’s resistance to the reforms that need to be enacted to make the whole governance of USATF more effective and democratic.

Can you give me an example of how these people are not “getting” it, but still feel they know better than the grass root volunteers.

I am going to give you one instance of how they missed the boat and it really cost us in the medal count.

Yeah,…our medal count was really off in Beijing this summer.

Yeah it was off by almost 33% from the average and until they get some real expert, experiential,and knowledgeable input and guidance, it is going to get even worse.

You still have not given me one example to make your point.

Okay, now I want you to put your truck in cruise control and pay a damned attention.

It’s already in cruise control. Stop stalling and fire away.

In 2008 we went to Beijing for the Olympic Games. The same venue and site of the World Championships last summer.

Yeah,…tell me something I don’t already know. Stop stalling !!

Do you want me to tell you or not ?

Yeah.

The shut the hell up,…. and listen !!

Anyway when we were preparing for the 2008 Olympics, we had a resort hotel for our pre-competition training camp in Dalian before we went on to Beijing. The USOC provided us with our own American chef and we ate from an American menu. The swimmers had it equally as good,…if not better.

What the hell do swimmers have to do with it.

If you shut that ignorant-ass mouth of yours I will tell you !

OK, it is shut,….for now. But you need to stay on track.

That is a horrible pun. But anyway, after about a week or so at the resort hotel with the special American chef, cooking from an American menu, quite a few people starting to have loose stools.I personally made sure I knew where the nearest rest room was when ever I went ANYWHERE. By the time we got to Beijing, things were not a whole lot better for a lot of people. I remember getting after David Oliver for not going at what I thought was 100% and he said to me, ” Coach,..if I pushed any harder I would have crapped my pants!”.

Was that the reason Ryan Lochte, the swimmer, missed a race over there ?

Yeah. Now you get the swimming angle to this. But the point is no matter what precautions are taken, some American athletes are going to have varying degrees of gastro-intestinal issues. The microbes in the food chain and water that exist in Japan and China simply raise hell with some American G.I. tracts. And even when the symptoms are mild on the surface, there is a sort of malaise that comes over them and they lose their “edge” in many cases as time over there wears on.

What the hell is malaise ?

Never mind. The point is, the longer American athletes stay over there, the more likely they will become stricken and/or their symptoms get worse. This summer, as the second half of the World Championships unfolded, our performances got worse and worse, compared to what athletes had proven they were capable of . The overall ambiance, electricity and competitive chemistry was lower than whale crap. I remember one of the female athletes being asked after a less than sterling effort, ” How was it ?”. Her reply was, ” It was a learning experience.”. The tone and body language said, ” I just want to survive this and get back home.”. And that was the attitude and feeling ( spoken and unspoken ) of the majority of the athletes going into the second four days of competition.

Ok. Ok. But the guy you coached got a new personal best. How do you explain that Mr Phi Beta Kappa ?

First of all, knowing and feeling what had happened in Beijing 2008, I was determined to not have a repeat. So I did not let Lashawn Merritt got to the pre-competition training camp in Japan. Instead we had our own two week pre-competition training camp at the USOC Training Center in Chula Vista, California. There was no drama, idle gossip, hater conspiracies, and the negative group dynamics that you can get at these training camps abroad. So for two weeks we had the very best conditions under which to train, feed, focus, and get centered for the World Championships. The people at Chula Vista were totally supportive and could not do enough to support what we were trying to do. It was a model of how the national governing bodies should serve and support athletes and coaches. Merritt got there just 5 days before his race.

I thought you were supposed to have at least one day for every hour difference in time ?

I was not going to follow that protocol and take the chance of him crapping his pants just to satisfy some formula. Two people who exceeded expectations in Beijing this summer were the Bowie girl in the 100 and Merritt in the 400. Now Felix in the 400 and Eaton in the decathlon did exceptionally well also, but neither Bowie or Merritt were in the pre-competition training camp in Japan before going on to China. Was spending less time in Asia part of the factors for their success. I am not certain,….but what I am certain of, and that is the fact that some of the athletes over there had been over there too long and in the process,…for whatever reason, lost their edge and to some degree their focus.

I am not sure that you have laid out enough proof to make your point.

But that is not really the point !!!

Here we go again !! Then please tell me what the hell REALLY is the point !

The REAL point is that no one at USATF is thinking, or talking, about the microbe issue as an issue. USATF has already pretty much sewed up and reserved the same training camp venue in Japan for 2020 that we had in 2015. There is a very strong likelihood that Brazil will have microbe issues just like Asia, given the problems they are having cleaning up their water. We have already contracted to have our pre-competition training camp in Brazil.  The longer our athletes are there, the more likely we will have a Beijing result. No one with real insight into the diminishing effects of longer duration abroad is being called upon to provide feedback on these things that directly impact the performance and medal count.

So you think we are going to have a crappy 2016 Olympics just like we had a 2015 World Championships.

Look, American track and field athletes do not travel well in general This is particularly the case for YOUNG American athletes. Beijing 2015 was a very solid mixture of old hands and rookies. That alone could account for part of the disappointments.  However, we particularly have G.I. issues in Asia, and seemingly less so in Europe. At some point it should be on some one’s radar screen at USATF that our relatively poor showing in Beijing was not some serendipitous, random sampling phenomenon. There were/are reasons for it and some of the most likely causes are not even being examined or discussed because Indy is too busy trying to make out that all the knowledge and wisdom in the sport resides in Indianapolis, and they are up to their eyeballs in efforts to protect and perpetuate their longevity in their positions instead of focusing on the REAL performance issues facing our athletes.

Yeah well that is all well and good. What do you think is going to happen ?

The USOC has a formula for the medal count they need to present to their sponsors in order to raise the 500-700 million dollars they need to operate for the quadrennium. They promise the sponsors 110-115 medals in exchange for the money they need to operate. Of that needed number of medals, they look for swimming and track and field to generate between 50 or 60 of those medals. The most high profile medals come from track and field, and because of that track and field anchors the Olympic schedule, coming the second week of the Games. NBC has to recoup over 2 BILLION dollars of advertising revenue in order to offset the cost of the Olympics ( 1 billion rights fee to IOC – 1 billion operation and production costs ).  It is all scripted and organized to capitalize on the popularity of track and field in the summer Olympics. They use the Olympic broadcasts as a sales and marketing platform to promote their fall shows. The better track and field does as the anchor sport, the more likely they are going to meet their marketing and sales goals from the fall rankings that result in increased advertising revenue from sponsors. All that aside,  the key  and critical figure here for athletes is the close to 4 million dollars the USOC gives to U.S. athletes in track and field in the form of support money and alternative help. Since the USOC money goes directly into things that impact athletes, it is more critical and essential  for athlete development than the “new” money Seigel(le) is offering and the new NIKE contract. The reason being that the USOC money earmarked and actually DOES go to athletes and does NOT end up in the administrative either of the national office.

You are losing me with all this NBC, IOC, USOC money stuff. What does that have to do with USATF and what they do ?

Listen, dumb ass, at the beginning and end of the day it is ALL about the money. If track and field doesn’t deliver medals in the middle to high 20s, then the USOC is going to come down on USATF like a lead elephant. In 2000, when the U.S. track and field medal count dropped to 15,…. after the drug reductions, and swimming got mopped up by the Germans and the Chinese , the USOC went into a small panic and instituted a whole new  “money for medal” allocation process for funding the federations. Federations got USOC dollars based upon designing high performance and medal increase plans and successfully implementing them. If we come in under 20 medals again, then the USOC is going to get right in the middle of USATF  management and some heads are going to roll.

Jesus,…. and the athletes are right in the middle of all this ?

Right, and at the end of the day it is the athletes that suffer when the national office does not adequately address their interests and needs. Supposedly these federations exist for the benefit of athletes and their support team. But over time the whole thing got grotesquely twisted and the leadership expects, and even demands, that the athletes serve management instead of management serving them.  That is the big issue facing the USATF convention next week. Will the leadership clique be successful in centralizing and concentrating  more power unto themselves for their own self-serving purposes and self-aggrandizement,…….. or will there be reform legislation passed that will return more authority and influence to the assembly and the people it elects.  It is this  self-appointed and self-perpetuating cabal that we are now at odds against .

You just lost me man. Why can’t you just keep it simple ? I’m telling you, you just lost me man !!!

You’re right. I just lost you. Drive safely !!!!!

 

Brooks T. Johnson

( 407 ) 758 – 0755

 

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