As I take a look at the state of professionalism in the sport of track and field it comes to my attention that the coaches may be the ones to lead the way. In talking with various individuals regarding the current state of the sport I've received information on the development of a coaches association.
Discussing the ability of the US to garner 30 medals in a major championship, I was surprised to learn that the coaches of our medal winners do not receive stipends from USATF - a situation that should be rectified in my opinion as prior to the change to the Logan administration stipends WERE paid to coaches. Coaches were paid upwards of $2,000 if their athletes won medals at the Games - lesser amounts if they coached athletes ranked in the Top 10. While it is discretionary, it would seem to be a logical move to provide assistance to those most responsible for the development and performances of our athletes. Something that I would hope the current administration would reconsider.
Further discussion, however, lead to the disclosure that there is a group of coaches, the Elite Athletes Coaches Association, that is in the process of obtaining non profit status for their group.
The Elite Athletes Coaches Association will be comprised of a majority of the coaches of medal winning athletes in the United States, as well as a sampling from overseas. Their mission: to vigorously advocate on behalf of the privileges, status and rights of coaches of athletes at the elite level. Among their goals:
1. To develop a matrix or template for coaches compensation.
2. To undertake projects and programs that work directly towards eliminating drugs and illegal performance enhancing substances from the sport.
3. To develop clinics and conferences to develop and exchange ideas for better coaching strategies and techniques.
4. To seek recognition and membership status from:
5. To seek sanctioning and censure power in regard to agents and managers that represent elite athletes.
6. To see sanctioning and censure power in regard to competition and competition directors.
7. To provide support and be protective of those things that allow for superior performances by elite athletes.
Among the coaches that I've heard have signed on for this association is a group of some of the most productive coaches in this country:
• John Smith
• Bobby Kersee
• Clyde Hart
• Joe Vigil
• Brooks Johnson
• Bob Larsen
• Jon Drummond
• Carol Smith
• Don Babbitt
• Tony Lest (UK)
• Lloyd Cowan (UK)
This is the kind of organization that the sport needs here in the US - leadership from those who bear the ultimate responsibility for performance. If we are not getting the leadership necessary from "the head office" we can still effect change if we get some leadership from "middle management"!
What would be nice now is to see the development of something similar for the elite athletes themselves. A move that most certainly would lead ultimately to a restructuring of the sport itself. Until then, its good to see that the coaches are taking a leadership role and that one of their stated goals lies in the elimination of performance enhancers in the sport!
I wish them luck as they attempt to use their considerable influence to improve the elite level of the sport in this country.