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    Golden League rant
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    Right after Oslo I promised a “rant” about the Golden League, and while I somehow doubt that anyone has been waiting for it with bated breath, I think it’s time has come.

    Am I the only person who thinks the IAAF is completely out to lunch by setting up a season-long competition that systematically focuses attention on non-competitive events? Think about it. All the promotion, all the late-season attention in the news concerning the Golden League jackpot is spent on events where one individual has so little effective competition that they can win six out of six meets. Meanwhile, events in which several competitors are putting up good numbers and have legitimate shots at winning – e.g. the women’s HJ this year, or the men’s JT last – drop off the GL radar after the second or third meet. It’s worse than absurd! It’s as if the NFL said “Let’s ignore the games that go into overtime and spend our resources talking up the 28-point-or-more blowouts.”

    By its very nature the current GL jackpot competition brings out “negative” commentary. The announcers on the WCSN webcast this morning went on and on about “The failure of Dibaba” – “Just one of the eligible athletes have failed” – “Tirunesh Dibaba failed at the last hurdle.” All of these are direct quotes! Furthermore, given the current climate with respect to the general public’s perception of Track and Field, you have to know that the casual fan reading in the newspaper tomorrow about so-and-so winning at six straight meets to get a big cash prize can’t help but wonder: “Ya suppose he’s gonna split it with his pharmacist?”

    Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not accusing any of the athletes of doing anything wrong. They’re doing exactly what they should be doing within the current framework. I’ve got nothing but respect for the six who got some big money today, and I was very happy for Tatiana Lebedeva, who I’m personally quite fond of, when she got the whole pile last year. But the IAAF is totally wrong-headed about how they’re using this money to promote “Global Athletics”.

    Some sports have gotten a lot of mileage out of promoting an individual superstar who stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. The NBA with Michael Jordan and the PGA with Tiger Woods spring immediately to mind. But for better or worse, the IAAF has firmly hitched its wagon to the notion that PED usage is the eighth deadly sin, so spotlighting an individual who puts a shellacking on the whole field week after week is an open invitation for the general public and ill-informed press to make cynical speculations. Even the supposedly well-informed announcers on this morning’s webcast felt it necessary to bring up the PED issue while discussing Sherone Simpson’s “two” GL losses to Marion Jones earlier in the season (although in truth Jones didn’t compete in Oslo, and Simpson actually lost there to Debbie Ferguson).

    Obviously this isn’t the best forum for making a formal proposal, since I don’t think Lamine Diack or any of the other IAAF Council members are lurking here very often. And while I know that everybody and their brother thinks they know more about how T&F should be promoted than the folks who currently do it, I’m going to outline an alternative to the current GL jackpot competition nevertheless, and see if anyone else here is willing to voice an opinion.

    Instead of rewarding the athletes who routinely manage to bitch-slap their peers into submission, the Golden League jackpot ought to be rewarding the athletes who are able to routinely put forth top-notch efforts in the face of consistently high-quality competition. To that end, here’s my proposal:

    The IAAF already publishes scoring tables that rank individual performances in an absolute sense. Yes, they’re controversial to some extent, but they’re the best we’ve got at the moment, and can be revised in the future if the points for some events are clearly shown to be out-of-whack. Using these numbers, the IAAF should score the top three finishers in each GL event, and sum these scores to determine which event has the highest overall quality. In other words, as the season progresses, it is the various events which are in competition with each other. Then, at the final meet in Berlin, the jackpot should be divided amongst the competitors in the highest scoring event in proportion to the number of points each individual had contributed to the event’s total (or perhaps in proportion to their number of wins, 2nds, and 3rds).

    For example, here are some of the numbers from Oslo back in June:
    Code:
    m-100:
    1 Powell Asafa                9.98 => 1222
    2 Crawford Shawn             10.02 => 1207
    3 Brunson Marcus             10.06 => 1193
                                     sum: 3622
    m-400:
    1 Wariner Jeremy             44.31 => 1225
    2 Brown Christopher          44.80 => 1194
    3 Merritt LaShawn            45.44 => 1153
                                     sum: 3572
    w-400:
    1 Richards Sanya             49.82 => 1208
    2 Williams Shericka          50.93 => 1170
    3 Williams Novlene           51.15 => 1162
                                     sum: 3540
    w-5K:
    1 Dibaba Tirunesh         14:30.40 => 1246
    2 Dibaba Ejegayehu        14:33.52 => 1239
    3 Masai Edith             14:33.84 => 1239
                                     sum: 3724
    Here we see that while Wariner’s individual performance is rated more highly than Powell’s, the overall quality of the top three in the men’s 100 was better. Meanwhile, the quality of the women’s 5K was extremely high according to the IAAF tables, and the participants in that event would have left Oslo as the GL “leaders”, but nobody would have been eliminated at that point.

    It would be somewhat pointless – and quite tedious – for me to grind through the numbers for all twelve GL events in all six of this year’s meets and then try to talk about how the money should have been awarded. If you change the rules, you’ll change the way people behave during the competition. An obvious example of this would be the middle and long distance runs, where a tactical (read “slow”) race would be clearly discouraged by my proposed system, where it’s not at all discouraged under the current one. Depending on your point-of-view, that could be either a good or bad thing.

    But I think the concept is clear. Structuring the GL jackpot competition in this way would systematically focus the media’s attention (and therefore public’s as well) on the events that are consistently yielding high-quality results, instead of on the blowouts. A second or third place finish from time to time, or even a DNF, wouldn’t knock an individual athlete out, and the whole thing might even tend to foster a sense of camaraderie among the competitors in the various events, since the first-place finisher’s chances for picking up a big bonus at the end of the year are directly tied to how well the second- and third-placers have done. Finally, it would tend to blunt the general public’s cynical view concerning PED use. To the extent that the casual sports fan cares at all, they care mostly about PEDs giving one individual an unfair advantage over the rest. By focusing on closely competitive events, the public won’t really care if the competitors are all clean or all dirty, so long as they’re all about the same in that regard.
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    #2
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    Good ideas, even if only to be something different than the horrendously boring ideas that come out of Monaco every year.

    BTW, IAAF Council Member Bob Hersh does lurk and post here often, as does IAAF Technical Committee Member David Katz.
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    #3
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    Very interesting idea. No chance of being adopted (too complicated), but better than most of the walk overs.
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    This is a very good and insightful idea. I've never liked the "win-'em-all" setup, which, to me, merely rewards luck and endurance. I'm more interested in a Bekele type running when & where he feels like it, with the benefit that each one of those performances might really be "special." The "problem" with your suggestion (and its strength!) is its nuance: winning is one thing (and very simple), the QUALITY of the win is something much more subtle. If everything is graded on "quality points," it's not hard to predict that non-experts will quickly be overcome with MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over). I could even see a situation in which the year's winner was someone who ran brilliantly but who actually won relatively few races. I don't have a problem with that idea at all, but it would be a hard "public" sell.

    I'd be perfectly happy if they dumped the entire jackpot idea, loosened up the Grand Prix format to allow meets to be more individual in character, and then just let the athletes do their thing.
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    Re: Golden League rant
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceFlorman

    Using these numbers, the IAAF should score the top three finishers in each GL event, and sum these scores to determine which event has the highest overall quality. In other words, as the season progresses, it is the various events which are in competition with each other. Then, at the final meet in Berlin, the jackpot should be divided amongst the competitors in the highest scoring event in proportion to the number of points each individual had contributed to the event’s total (or perhaps in proportion to their number of wins, 2nds, and 3rds).
    I applaud this out-of-the-box thinking - I agree that the current system is not a particularly successful promotion, but the obvious problem is that conditions at a meet can be conducive for one event and not another (high heat - good for 100, bad for 5000; stiff wind good for 100 with the wind, bad for LJ into the wind. Discus is dependent on the RIGHT KIND of wind, etc.) Over the course of a season this may or may not work itself out by the law of averages, but as much as I am a Performance Guy first, and a Competition Guy second (actually I require both for my titillation), I can see that there would be many variables at play here.

    But yes, this is a good proposal to look into - keep up the good work, Bruce!
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    #6
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    ... and get rid of all rabbits, while we're at it. WRs and the attention to them, at the neglect of competition (a race is supposed to be a competition - DUH) would get us back to caring more about wins v losses rather than artificial races which only further the need to use PEDs to enhance the attempt at a goal performance.
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    #7
    Agree with MJR here, at least as it applies to GL jackpots or rewards based on end-of-season points.
    Setting up WR attempts with pacemakers in events put together specifically for that goal is one thing.
    But virtually handing a race to a Kenny B. type, for example, by setting up a pace that pretty much only he and maybe two other runners in the world can keep for the distance does nothing to promote interest in real competition. If I didn't just plain love to watch people run fast, it would almost be boring. Usually it is anti-climatic, anyway.
    And, unless there's a way to "rabbit" sprints and field events, it is also an unfair advantage to the folks in those events who must really compete head to head.
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    #8
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    Bruce, that is a very valid criticism of the GL prize system.

    Track and Field is highly problematic from a "marketing message" perspective, as the very best athletes never compete against each other - not because they're avoiding each other, but simply because they are in completely different events. What to do when one's a 9.80 sprinter, another is a 43.5s quarterman, a 8.60 LJer, a 12.40 5k runner, a 70m DTer, a 6m vaulter? And then chuck in the women's side of the mix...

    One option is to just highlight a small number of events over a season. That's what the GL effectively does. But of course, the same events spring up very, very regularly. And then there's the question of whether folks get a bigger thrill out of event dominance, or high levels of competition, or WRs... and whether such things are mutually exclusive? And what about the mixed messages that surround highlighted different dimensions in each event:
    "Wariner is really a step above the others this season"
    vs
    "The Dibaba-Defar battles have intrigued us all"
    vs
    "Who will become the PV/HJ number one this year"
    vs
    "Powell just missed the WR again

    Another option, as you suggest is to merit rank events/performances. But as we see on this board almost constantly, there are few, if any, who agree about what constitutes merit across the events (or over time). How is Joe Public ever, ever going to understand what's going on if us rocket scientists can't agree?

    What comparisons can be made to other sports? How do they do it?
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    Re: Golden League rant
    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceFlorman

    By its very nature the current GL jackpot competition brings out “negative” commentary.
    ...
    the IAAF is totally wrong-headed about how they’re using this money to promote “Global Athletics”.
    ...
    Some sports have gotten a lot of mileage out of promoting an individual superstar who stands head-and-shoulders above the rest.

    Even the supposedly well-informed announcers on this morning’s webcast felt it necessary to bring up the PED issue while discussing Sherone Simpson’s “two” GL losses to Marion Jones earlier in the season

    The facts about the Golden League planning in your post illustrate well how the people that REALLY control the IAAF and the mass media (they are the same) implement the agendas "negative coverage or no coverage at all of athletics" AND "no drugs, no champs".

    1. Failure to understand the core assumptions...
    But you fail to understand the core points, to be found in my first statement.
    Total control of mass media and Treason, in particular "the last to be suspected" principle, are two of the basic techniques used by the illuminati, to prevent people to understand the simple truth.
    Both are required by the BIG LIE framework, the base of the illuminati system of control: the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.

    2. ... leads to results based on the OPPOSITE assumptions
    Because of this failure, your reasoning is based not only in the wrong assumptions but also in the exact OPPOSITE of reality.

    Example 1: it's not " the IAAF has firmly hitched its wagon to the notion that PED usage is the eighth deadly sin". It's the opposite, the IAAF promoting the lie that you can't be a champion unless you use drugs.

    Example 2: it's not a IAAF failure to promote "an individual superstar who stands head-and-shoulders above the rest". It's the opposite, the IAAF destroying those superstars.

    3. Terminal phase of the agenda of destroying athletics AND promoting drugs
    We are now in the terminal phase of the agenda of destroying athletics AND promoting drugs.
    Like any other agenda using the BIG LIE framework, regular upscaling is required.
    That's why, unlike in the early stages, those superstars are now systematically falsely accused.
    The last one was Justin Gatlin. Jeremy Wariner now officially waits to be executed.

    More
    Jeremy Wariner officially put in the death row, ISTAF Berlin
    http://mb.trackandfieldnews.com/discuss ... hp?t=22067
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    #10
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    Matt, how do you even sleep at night, knowing that all these conspiracies are going down and YOU are the only one who knows and can stop them?! Heavy burden of responsibility, huh?
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