Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Coaches Association Emerging

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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are We in Position for 30 Medals?

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Nine

Thirty medals. That's the stated goal of USATF CEO Doug Logan. Thirty medals in London, 2012.

This is the goal that was set following a 23 medal performance in Beijing. A performance that was considered to be unsatisfactory. So with a follow up in Berlin that netted one fewer medal (22) than Beijing questions abound:

• Was 30 just an arbitrary number?
• Is 30 a realistic goal?
• If so why are we so far off?
• If 30 "is" realistic then where will they come from?
• Do we have a "structure" in place that will help us get there?

At least these are some of the questions that I have heard from friends I've talked to and from those of you out there that have emailed me. Tough and legitimate questions when it seems that we are actually "losing ground" against the rest of the world - and in some cases against ourselves.

For example, for two majors in a row we have gotten nothing out of our 4x1 relay squads - male or female. These are supposed to be "guaranteed" medals but we've drawn a big "zero"! Some misfortune perhaps in not completing the handoffs. But has anyone noticed that we've been slipping in our sprint depth?

Yes we have Tyson Gay running off the hook. And Carmelita Jeter has emerged as a serious sprint force. But what do we have behind them? Only three Americans ran sub-10 this year behind Gay, and no American women were sub-11 behind Jeter! Not good commentary when the rest of the world is IMPROIVNG their numbers in this area.

Same for the 200 meters. Tyson Gay and Allyson Felix are keeping us strong and in gold medal contention. But the world equaled us this year in sub-20 performers (3 to 3), and on the women's side our next best 200 meter runner is Sanya Richards and she doesn't contest the event very often!

We're still strong over 400, but playing catch up in the 800. We've reached parity in the women's 1500, trying to find it in the men's. The women's middle distances look very promising with Maggie Vessey (1:57.84), Anna Willard (1:58.80/3:59.38), Christin Wurth Thomas (1:59.35/3:59.98), Jenny Barringer (3:59.90), and Shannon Rowbury (4.00.33) emerging as a very formidable group.

In the distances, its on the men's side of the ledger that we are seeing emergence into potential global competitiveness with breakout seasons by Dathen Ritzenhein (12:56.27/27:22.28), Matt Tegenkamp (12:58.56), Tim Nelson (27:36.99), Galen Rupp (27:37.99) and Anthony Famiglietti (27:39.68). Extremely exciting given that the beginning of the season was focused on the potential breakout of Rupp, yet we saw huge growth from the others as well!

In the field events, we're looking at an athlete here and there, but very little depth anywhere. Nice breakouts from Brittney Reese and Trey Hardee. But aside from the men's pole vault and shot put, we don’t have the depth anywhere in the field to sustain even one injury to anyone of significance - and that person may not even be a contender!

My point is that somewhere along the line we have dropped the ball on development. We are dependent on Individual coaches and their athletes rising to the occasion. With all the available talent in this country we have no means of moving a 10.15 sprinter , 13.30 hurdler, 3:55 miler, or 26'6" long jumper to the next level! Everyone is surprised that "a country the size of Jamaica can produce the likes of Bolt, Powell, Fraser, and Walker" when what should really be baffling is that we haven't produced a dozen of each!

In a country of our size and potential resources the development of Willard, Barringer, Ritzenhein and Tegenhamp should be a given, not a pleasant surprise! We should be knee deep in Tyson Gay's and Carmelita Jeter's. Yet we only have one of each and we have yet to see if the development of our middle and long distance runners this year will be enough to translate to the medal stand.

It's been brought to my attention by a US coach that the Germans won only one medal in Beijing, then improved to NINE in Berlin! Another small country making tremendous strides in a short period of time. The question is: How are they improving while we apparently keep taking small steps backwards?

Until we figure that out (we being USATF and those in charge of the sport here in the US) then we are NOT in position to win 30 medals. Not in Daegu, not in London, not even in Rio! As long as we are relying on blind luck, we will continue to produce a medal count in the low 20 range. In a good year perhaps even the mid 20's. After all, even a blind squirrel finds an occasional nut and right now that is our approach to winning medals - the luck of the draw in any given season!

We hope that Tyson stays healthy. We pray someone else "rises to the occasion". We wait for someone to "come out of the woodwork". We're glad that Sanya exorcized her demons. We're shocked and thrilled that Brittney came through. Ecstatic that Trey had the meet of his life. This is no way to manage what is supposed to be the greatest track and field power on the planet!

You see a goal requires a PLAN. A methodology. A road map on how to get there. Yet in a country where everyone seems to have a GPS system, we travel blindly on the stated road to thirty medals! So I fear that we will not get there any time soon. I would love to see USATF prove me wrong. But until a comprehensive plan for developing talent in this country is in place, I just don't see it happening.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How Are They Selecting Coaches These Days?

Day in the Life of Allyson Felix - Day 3

Recently I talked about the elite level of the sport and the effect that money has had as the sport has attempted to grow from an amateur sport into a professional one. The "growing pains" that have stressed the sport on the money front has seemingly spilled over to the coaching front.

I say that after reading on Friday that Veronica Campbell Brown is leaving Lance Brauman - the coach that has guided her to nine World and Olympic medals, including three gold. The coach that she is leaving him for is Anthony Carpenter. No offense to Carpenter, but everyone I've talked to so far is asking : who is Anthony Carpenter?

Carpenter may indeed be a good coach, I don't know. And that is really the crux of the matter. Because it seems that only in track and field do athletes at the elite level choose to move from "proven" coaches to "non proven" coaches.

For example. You would never see the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, or New England Patriots have a successful campaign and then come back the following season and hire the equivalent of an intern to guide them through the next season. But it would appear that this is exactly what Veronica Campbell Brown (VCB) is going to do!

But she is not alone. In recent seasons we’ve seen, Xavier Carter (10.00/19.63) and Wallace Spearmon (9.96/19.65) jumping on the coaching carrousel and leave prominent coaches right on the cusp of the Olympic season itself. And the coaching move of Jeremy Wariner from quarter miler guru Clyde Hart to assistant Michael Ford has been one of the most chronicled coaching changes ever. Wariner went from Olympic gold medalist and two time World Champion to consistent runner up to Lashawn Merritt while running nearly a second slower as a result of his downgrading of coaches! Losing Olympic and World Championships gold in the process.

In other professional sports, it’s the struggling teams that take on unproven coaching talent. In part because they can't afford the higher profile coaches, and in part because most top level coaches don't want to take on reclamation projects!

In professional basketball Phil Jackson and Larry Brown are commodities whose services cause bidding wars. In track and field, Lance Brauman and John Smith seem to have great difficulty attracting the top sprint talent any more - and Trevor Graham has been shelved and shunned. Yet these men have produced most of the US men's sprint medals this decade - and Brauman took Tyson Gay to 9.84/19.63 before Tyson changed coaches!

In any other sport these men would have the Lakers, Cowboys, Yankees, and other top teams bidding wildly for their services. When Mo Greene retired you would have thought that sprinters with the talent of Wallace Spearmon, Xavier Carter, Darvis Patton, Mike Rodgers, and Ivory Williams would be lined up doing what Mo Greene did in 1996 - asking Smith to teach him how to be a champion. I mean, wouldn't YOU take a chance on the coach of champions such as Steve Lewis (Olympic gold and silver), Quincy Watts (Olympic gold), and Mo Greene (Olympic gold and bronze, along with four World gold)? Yet, since Greene's retirement the top male sprinters have chosen to go elsewhere to learn their craft - only in track and field. Yet if there's any question that Smith still has "it" look no further than Carmelita Jeter who took advantage of that "opening" and this season became #2 all time in the women's 100!

Yet, ironically as Jamaican sprinters are finding success by flocking to their country's top sprint coaches in droves, we here in the US seem to be slipping as our athletes are running the other way from our top coaches! Spearmon had great success with Braumann, but left to train with his father. Carter began having success with Holloway (in spite of injury) but left. Wariner was seemingly on his way to the WR in the 400 but left Hart - and my grapevine says that Sanya Richards is considering a similar move. Does anyone think that the Lakers will be getting rid of Phil Jackson any time soon? I didn't think so.

I understand that athletes have their own reasons for these moves. I've heard that many athletes don't want to move to live in Los Angeles for example. I understand wanting to "stay home" and work. But people in professional sports - as well as professionals in many other industries- understand that to make the money you think you deserve, sometimes you have to make a move to another location. It's called a business decision.

It was no secret that Wariner felt that Hart's services had become too expensive. But after a season and a half of less that the best results, Wariner must have come to the conclusion that it had been money well spent as he chose to rehire Hart to once again take the reigns of his career! After all in sports, as with other endeavors in life, you get what you pay for - and you don't get Porsche performance at a Yugo price tag!

Just as I feel that the sport needs to be more professional in its methodology of getting its athletes paid, I feel that its athletes need to take a more professional approach in how they choose the people that are most responsible for their performances - and therefore their revenue base. Professional sports franchises refuse to select anything less than the best when they feel they have the other pieces in place to make a move towards winning championships. Likewise, I would think that an athlete looking to reach the podium of an Olympics or World Championships competition, would be looking at hiring a coach that has a proven track record of success. After all, I don't think any of them would hire an ordinary mechanic to work on a Ferrari, so why hire less than the best to train their body?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Has Money Helped or Hurt the Sport ?

When I was young and watching the sport, I thought it would be wonderful if track athletes could actually make a living in track and field like they could in other sports. As I watched athletes struggle to find training time as they worked full time jobs to pay the bills and put food on the table, I thought, "wouldn't it be great if running could pay the bills?".

But after roughly 20 years of professionalism in the sport, I wonder if we've done it "right". After all, two decades is plenty of time to develop and tweak a "product". But looking at track and field, we're nothing like the other professional sports when it comes to our athletes getting paid.

Somehow, while other sports have actual salary structures, we've attempted to become professional by retaining the amateur pay model of appearance fees, mixed with a few hefty contracts from the shoe companies. Now this works very well if you are the number one athlete in your event - maybe even number two or three. I mean, Usain Bolt is making crazy money right now. Mo Greene made a healthy living. Michael Johnson and Marion Jones too.

But when one athlete picks up a check for a quarter million or half million dollars from one meet (and I'm not "hatin" him for it) there's not much money left for everyone else! Which leads to a lot of problems.

For starters it leads to a sport divided among the "Well to Do" and the "Struggling" - and this sport has far too many athletes struggling to eek out an existence. Consider the 100 meter final in Berlin. Usain Bolt is extremely "well to do". Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell are "well to do". The remaining finalists, however, (Daniel Bailey, Richard Thompson, Dwain Chambers, Marc Burns, and Darvis Patton) fall into the category of working hard to try and make a living in spite of the fact that all have PR's well under 10.00 and only one was slower than that in the World Championships final!

Can you imagine being among the EIGHT best in the world at your position in any other professional sport on the planet and yet you may have trouble paying the bills? Yet that is exactly the situation a large percentage of track and field athletes find themselves in - Olympic and World finalists; among the best in the world at what they do; yet struggling to make a decent living!

And the non medalists aren't the only one's affected by the huge discrepancies in appearance fees. Sticking with the sprints, if you are Tyson Gay or Asafa Powell, you have to think twice about running in a meet featuring Usain Bolt - and its not necessarily about having to face him on the track. You see when a meet promoter pays an ungodly fee to Mr. Bolt, just what does that leave for Mr. Gay or Mr. Powell? The answer is:not what either feels he should be earning for his days work! So the answer is to find a meet where "you" can be the featured athlete! And though you may not command a Boltian fee, you do get the opportunity to get paid much closer to your own market value. The result is that we find it difficult to find top level fields in the sprints outside of major championships - primarily for financial reasons! A very frustrating proposal for most of us fans whose mouths water at the thought of high level sprint showdowns, yet who are mostly frustrated at how infrequently the top sprinters are brought together on the track!

Even when athletes are able to earn "big money" in the sport it doesn't seem to translate to the track. For example it seems that when the shoe companies hand out the large contracts to what seem to be budding young stars, progress seems to stall or even stop! Sort of like when athletes in other professional sports are in the last year of their contracts. That final season we get great performances; the athlete signs a huge new contract; and then the level of performance drops dramatically. More than once I've seen athletes like Xavier Carter, Alan Webb, Walter Dix and others, get huge shoe deals only to stall out and fall on hard times. While, in the meantime, we watch "struggling" athletes like Mike Rodgers, Ivory Williams, Alonzo Edwards and Steve Mulling make major strides internationally without benefit of "adequate compensation".

My point to all this is that the sport really needs to take a look at some sort of restructuring if it is to truly survive long term. It's great that a Usain Bolt can earn top dollar. But if we can't get the guys in the other 7 lanes paid adequately we will end up with Bolt running alone - and that won't be fun for anyone! As I said previously regarding performances, the sport needs at least a dozen Usain Bolt's. Likewise when it comes to getting athletes paid we could use a couple dozen Usain Bolt's - with a salary structure that would allow for compensation of the rest much more in line with their competitive abilities!

So, while I know that we are still a ways away from making New Year's resolutions, this will be high on my list for 2010 - that the sport take a serious look at how it's athletes are being paid and seriously attempts to rectify the severe inequality that exists.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time for USATF to Bid for the World Championships

The early exit of Chicago as a bid city for the 2016 Games means that there will not be Olympic level track and field in the United States until at least 2020 - and that's only if the USOC decides to submit an application for a bid city.

While most of the country is still either crying over spilled milk or trying to figure out who to blame for Chicago's failure, I look at things a bit differently. Because every time a door closes it simply creates another opportunity elsewhere.

That would be for USATF to put together it's own plan and bid to host the World Championships here in the Untied States. After all, after a quarter century and a dozen editions later, we still have yet to host the World's largest track meet - and that is a travesty bigger than Chicago's failure to land the Olympics in my humble opinion!

So perhaps Mr. Logan can take some of that energy that was used to put together a committee to figure out why we didn't win enough medals in Beijing (and now Berlin) and perhaps put together a "task force" or committee, or whatever route he would like to take, to put together a bid for the World Championships. If Daegu can do it, surely we can find a suitable city here in the United States capable of pulling off the feat!

As a matter of fact, I would suggest that USATF try to work with the USOC to perhaps put together a plan whereby we look to develop a bid city that could start by hosting the World Championships, while being developed towards submission of a bid for the Games themselves! The idea being to find a location that can "start small" by hosting the World Championships of the Games' central sport, while developing the rest of the infrastructure necessary to host the Games themselves. Thus when the Olympic bid is submitted there is a "history" of world class activity that can be utilized in the bid presentation.

For example, a San Francisco Olympic bid could be predicated by hosting the World Championships in a facility like Edwards Stadium in Berkeley. The Berkeley facility could then be developed with the goal of becoming the central location in an Olympic Park for the San Francisco Bay Area.

I start with Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay area because surprisingly, it has the largest seating capacity of all of our track stadiums here in the US with 22,000 seats! Next in line would be the Home Depot Center at 20,000 and after that the drop is huge. So we have some work to do in that area.

But whatever needs to be done, should be done, as it makes no sense that the world's largest track power has yet to host it's signature meet. Nor does it make any sense that we should have difficulty doing so. It's time to rectify that situation, as well as an opportunity to become a leader here in the US outside of track and field. An opportunity that could help change the perception of the sport here in this country. Time for USATF to step up and take a leadership role in the sport.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

And the Winner Is - Rio de Janerio


For the first time in history South America will be host to the Olympic Games as Rio de Janerio emerged victorious in Friday's vote in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Friday's vote was a major coup for the Brazilian city that has been world renowned for it's beauty and party atmosphere. The word "Carnival" is quickly associated by most with the city of Rio de Janerio. A place where a good time can be had by all who enter there.

But Rio has also earned a reputation for crime, drugs and violence. And the city, once the capital of Brazil, has been in decline since it lost that status in the 1960's. Like many large cities throughout the world (Rio has a population of approx 6 million people) there comes a time when a city could use a facelift, and hosting the Games should provide this for Rio.

This is one of the benefits of being host city to the Games - millions upon millions of dollars are poured into the city to improve infrastructure, beautify, and provide a fresh look. Cultural areas benefit as well as the city is revitalized for it's presentation to the world. The entire city gets "dolled up" for its visit from the world!

The city of Barcelona saw a huge renaissance in both culture and economy after hosting the Games in 1992. I imagine that Rio, once its been renovated and rejuvenated, will see a similar kind of renaissance. Which is one of the reasons that I feel the Games should travel the world - to spread the wealth of uplifting the world's major cities, and revive the cultures of the world!

Hopefully Rio winning this bid is a sign of the future and we will see other areas that have been ignored in the past get the opportunity to also play host to the Games. It would certainly fit the spirit of world peace and harmony in which the Games were created.

I believe that such may be the case, as this time around Rio was actually expected to be in the running heading into Friday's vote. What wasn't expected was their competition, as the final vote was between Rio and Madrid. Because, the "favorites" heading into the vote were Chicago and Rio de Janerio, but the first city dropped after the first round of voting was - Chicago!

Chicago out in first round of 2016 Vote

On Friday Americans were in a state of shock and Chicagoans were crying at the first round exit of Chicago in it's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. Breaking News Flashes all over television were talking about the snub of the US as host city. Chicago has taken it personally, because apparently not even the star power of none other than Oprah Winfrey, and Barak Obama could get them past the first round.

In retrospect, however (though I've felt this way since the USOC made it's announcement of Chicago as our bid city) if Chicago's "ace" was that of celebrity, then perhaps our position was never what we thought it to be!

Before I talk about Chicago as the bid city, let me state that whichever city was bidding for the United States would have faced a most difficult task. While the world seems to be excited that Obama is now our president, it is easy to forget that we have been at war in the Middle East for nearly the span of two Olympiads, and our prestige around the world has suffered greatly over the previous eight years!

We are seen by much of the world as the big bully on the block, and many relish any opportunity to see us knocked around a little. Such is the appeal, for example, of Jamaica suddenly giving us fits in the sprints! So awarding the United States a prize as golden as an Olympic bid was going to be a stretch for many of those voting. And it's much easier to snub the bully when the vote is by secret ballot - as this one was, and should be.

As such, we were not bidding from a position of "strength". We were not the beloved United States, protector of the world. We were the a nation despised by many - perceived as arrogant and overbearing. We realize that out economy still needs to be fixed, I think that we forget that our global reputation also is still in a state of disrepair!

That being said, it was imperative that the US put it's very best face forward with this bid - which we attempted to do when we sent Oprah, Michelle Obama, and the President to lobby on Chicago's behalf. I'm not sure, however, that we took that same care when we selected Chicago to serve as the face of the United States.

No disrespect to Chicago, but when one thinks about Major cities in the US it does not get the same billing as New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. These cities are the international face of the United States - our cultural and financial centers with global reputations in the eyes of the world. Looking to regain confidence and global acceptance, perhaps we should have invited the world to a place that IT would have been comfortable and appreciative of! A place that others would perceive as "First Class" and not second best.

We have many fine cities, Dallas, Denver, Miami, San Diego, and yes Chicago among others. But the Olympics play host to the world. And the world has certain expectations. They want the very best you have to offer - and I'm not sure we offered them that.

Granted Los Angeles may also have been a stretch - it's played host twice and would have been a bit redundant. But the world would love to come to New York or San Francisco. Both have tremendous allure to the world. They are rich in culture, and steeped in history, and have various connections to the world in general having been entry points for many immigrants that came here to make a new life.

Yes we would have some work to do to create Olympic Villages in either location. Logistics could be a bit tougher. Reworking infrastructure to create easy passage from venues that would not necessarily be centrally located would create a need for some innovation. But these are cities that are already cultural AND athletic centers on both the East and West Coasts, and whatever would be built there could be incorporated into the overall structure of both regions.

I've seen many areas thrown out there over the past few days, everything from Minnesota to Boston. But this is not 1909, where the Olympics could be housed by any large city with enough room to create venues and we, the Untied States, are the darling of the world. This is the New Millennium, where we have a reputation to recover, and the rest of the world has grown and has much to offer as host to the world's greatest sporting event!

We now have to think outside the box and figure out how to better package this nation for presentation to the rest of the world! That means presenting our icon cities - just as we attempted to present our icon celebrities.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Choice To Host the 2016 Games

Friday will be a special day for one of the four cities bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games as Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo all await the vote that will make one of them the Game's host city.

Everyone has their favorite, the place they hope will win - typically simply a case of nationalistic pride. But as much as I would love to see another Olympics held here in the US, Chicago is not my choice this time around.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Windy City. And with Obama-mania having taken hold in the US I'm sure that preparations would be superb. The city would put on a first class celebration, and the venues would be on par with any ever used for a Games. I have no doubt of these things. Not to mention that I would most certainly attend! Right here in my own back yard? A must do event to be sure.

But as much as I would love to have Chicago win the bid - and will cheer heartily if they do - they are not my first choice. Why? Because the Olympics are not supposed to be about just the United States. The Olympics were created to foster peace throughout the world. It's supposed to be a GLOBAL event, shared by all. Which is why I have to eliminate Chicago - because we've been the host several times now.

It's also why I have to eliminate Madrid, because Spain was host fairly recently (1992). More importantly however, is that Europe has become the "Host Continent" of the Games. Confining what is supposed to be a global celebration to a very small area of the world. That's why I would like to see the "world" more involved in the Games. And why I have to eliminate Tokyo as well, as Asia just played host - and Tokyo has had a turn previously ('64).

By now you can guess where I would like to see the Games held - Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a large, metropolitan city in the largest country on the continent of South America. A continent that has NEVER hosted the Games. Fully half of the Western Hemisphere, and not once in over a 100 years has a Games been there. Somewhat tragic when you stop to think about it.

When you take into account that Africa has also been shut out of the Games as host. Or that highly populated areas such as India and Indonesia have never had the opportunity. Well over half the population of the world has not had the opportunity to serve as host. And that number would have climbed by over a billion if China had not just served as host!

So, as much as I will be ecstatic should Chicago win, it's really time to break up the "good old boy network" system of choosing the Games hosts. A more rotational system needs to be established that would spread the Games world wide.

I'm sure there will be many that will say that several areas have not played host due to economic reasons. But as "poor" as the continents of South America and Africa may be, they too have thriving cities amongst the poverty - just as we and Europe have poverty among our thriving cities! The IOC should develop a program to work with cities like Buenos Aires, Caracas, Santiago, Abidjan, Lagos, and Cairo to develop them as Olympic hosts. Because all have the ability to do so. It may even behoove the rest of the world to somehow contribute to such efforts. After all THAT would be more in tune with the ideals that created the Games.

So I, like the rest of the world, wait with baited breath for tomorrow's vote and decision. I will cheer the selection of which ever city wins the bid. But this is my plea to the IOC to look at spreading the wealth of the Games throughout the world.