FROM THE EDITOR — Random Thoughts From An Olympic Year

MISS ME YET? Setting aside the special-case ’20 season, ’21 marked the first year since ’76 that I failed to be a part of the sound of a major track meet somewhere on the planet, so the more proper question would be “miss my voice yet?”

Bahamas, Canada, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Trinidad, United States. The significance of those countries? Those are the 20 nations in which I was privileged to be behind the mike at an international affair.

Strangely enough, that number is larger than my count of U.S. cities (which I think is 14), since so much of my million-plus miles of travel came as a member of the IAAF Family. Among other things I did 5 Olympics and 10 World Champs in and out. What a fabulous experience!

But there was no gh assaulting your eardrums in this exciting Olympic year. Nor do I expect you will be hearing me in the future as I have basically filed my retirement papers with the (imaginary) announcing guild.

I hasten to assure one and all that this doesn’t mean any kind of life of leisure is in my cards when it comes to T&FN. Indeed, it means I can devote more of my time to the magazine at important moments. With our desire to get you online coverage of OG/OT type meets on a daily basis, something had to give and of course The Bible Of The Sport came first. As it always will.

But I can’t just walk away from my announcing career without citing my two incredible mentors, the Bobs: Steiner & Hersh. Mr. Steiner was the first “professional” track announcer I ever heard and he was my role modal for trying to simultaneously bring both excitement and information to the crowd. Mr. Hersh, frequently my Olympic partner, subsequently taught me the ins and outs of international announcing. Who knew I’d learn the diacritical markings of a dozen-odd languages?

Where Have All The Letters Gone?

Every few months we receive a note from a subscriber wondering why we virtually never run letters to the editor anymore. The answer is simple: we rarely get enough of such to craft a viable section with material that still has contemporary relevance.

We’d love to have printable submissions because what you the reader think does matter to us, and we suspect it matters to other readers as well.

Can we blame the internet? In theory, the wonderful world of e-communications should make it easier to write letters. No need to find pen and ink or envelopes and stamps. You can spellcheck yourself. So why, other than a contracting circulation, are we getting so few letters? As I said, blame the internet.

It seems that most people who feel motivated to express themselves in public these days choose to do so on our Message Boards. We’d love to convert a few of those people to letter writers. So if you’re of a mood, feel free to drop us a line. Our “To Box 296” days aren’t over yet!

WA’s Hall Of Fame Revisited

My column in the June issue took WA to task for a lack of Hall Of Fame action. Longtime correspondent Jack Mortland had a positive spin: “I see that 4 of the 11 U.S. members came out of Ohio high schools: Jesse Owens, Harrison Dillard, Glenn Davis and Edwin Moses. That beats California’s 3, with 1 each for Texas, Oregon, New York and New Jersey. And 2 of Ohio’s 4 come from one school, Cleveland East Tech.

“Furthermore, Ohio State is the only school with 2 among the 11: Owens and Davis. I don’t suppose this makes us the track capital of the world but it can be the source of a little Buckeye pride.”

A WA Rule We Could Do Without

Of all the rules that have long bothered T&FN one of the least-sense-making is the stricture against allowing mixed-sex races on the track to count as record performances.

A rabbit is a rabbit is a rabbit.

The situation has been made only more ridiculous with the advent of electronic pacing devices like the Wavelight system.

Suddenly it’s just hunky-dory if a woman’s race is guided by a computer system that never tires, never goes off pace and can always finish the race.

But if you have a meet that can’t afford that expensive system you have to rely on human assistance. And being human, that means the pace is likely to vary, and perhaps go completely off the rails.

If WA wants to create “fairness” in distance racing perhaps there should be a separate category for non-light competitions.

For what it’s worth, note that T&FN has always carried mixed-sex marks as a regular part of women’s and girls’ lists.

Tired of my voice yet? ◻︎