Shouted out who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was You and Me
-Sympathy for the Devil, Rolling Stones
If you count yourself as a fan in any way, shape or form then you probably have heard about the controversy at the USATF Indoor Track Championships surrounding the Women’s 3000m. Gabe Grunewald of Brooks Running won the race after some seemingly innocuous contact with Jordan Hasay with 170m to go. A yellow flag went up meaning the official on the turn saw contact. The head official discussed the call with the turn official and they agreed it was not worthy of a DQ. Anyone who has ever raced, especially indoors, already knew that. Grunewald was clearly the class of the field over the last 200m contact or not. Long story short as many of you I’m sure already know (and those that don’t can do your due diligence here and here and here) Grunewald’s victory was then protested by Alberto Salazar and the protest was denied. Somehow a third protest was made and the DQ was handed down to Grunewald.
I don’t want to write about yesterday. What I really want to do is make the point that yesterday was merely the harvest coming in. We have sown this crop over decades and now we are dealing with it. We, the fans, are to blame. So, I would like to apologize to Gabe. It has been year after year of apathy by all of us that has led to this.
We bitch to each other about TV coverage and never call or email anyone who can do something.
We complain that the Millrose Games left MSG but we did that from our couch instead of from a seat in MSG.
We complained about Americans never being any good on the World stage but we never thought to help fund the few teams that existed in the 90’s to support them.
Now we are good on the World stage and we question every fast time that gets run.
We want more coverage online but we scream in protest when someone lays the money down to do that coverage and has the audacity to charge us to watch.
We scream when we find out someone is guilty of PED use but we stay silent when they coach the next generation.
We wonder why past generations had the Jim Ryuns and Steve Prefontaines on magazine covers but we are too cheap to subscribe to a magazine like Track & Field News that actually covers the sport and too lazy to write to a magazine like Sports Illustrated and tell them to cover the sport.
We sat back and watched the sport die. We watched and we did nothing. We never gave a sponsor a good reason to be involved.
So, Nike stepped up. They became the lifeline because there was no one else who could, because no one else wanted to. Without them we would not even have a sport to bitch about. Then we handed them the keys because we no longer cared to drive the sport ourselves. Soon, we were not even sitting shotgun. We’re hitch hiking now.
All of this is our fault.
But, now, we need to get up off our asses and do something.
The USATF has always been a JV organization tasked with doing a Varsity job. They need to be held accountable. Now is not the time to let that USATF membership lapse. Now is the time to renew or join. Then open your mouth as a member.
Now is not the time to throw away your Nikes. Now is the time to let Nike know that if they want to keep you in the swoosh they need to change the way they wield their power. Let them know they have the power to fix so much of this and if they do, well, they will have your continued loyalty. If not….
Now is not the time to turn off your TV set. Now is the time to watch the coverage and then email, tweet, write, call NBC and truly voice what is wrong with the broadcast.
But before all of that, NOW is the time to apologize, all of us, the fans. We’re sorry. We have let this sport suffer. We fell asleep.
But, now we’re awake.