Cross Country in the Winter Games? Let’s Just Chill

Every four years, around the middle of February, the same old cry goes up on running blogs and message boards everywhere: Make cross country a sport in the Winter Olympics.

Kirui_gebre_bostonWhile the balmy conditions that enveloped Sochi for much of the XXII Winter Games might make that proposal seem plausible, looked at from any number of more realistic points of view it’s obvious that there’s a better chance of baseball returning to the Olympic list, with the Cubs representing the United States. In short, when Hell joins the rest of continental America this winter and freezes over.

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But cry and you cry alone

simpson

Jenny Simpson speaks to the media after her race in Boston Saturday

Whatever your line of work, you’ll do better, and feel better about what you do, if you can bring a sense of humor to your job.
That might be particularly true for elite athletes, whose very profession is fraught with not just the possibility, but the virtual guarantee of some degree of failure, at some point. No matter how dominant or “in the groove” they might be, a bad bounce of the ball or a slip or trip can bring disaster in the blink of an eye (witness Peyton Manning in the recent Super Bowl to see how fast a near-perfect season can be undone in the space of four quarters of football).
As fans, we have a car crash mentality when it comes to athletic success and failure. While we like to see athletes, especially our favorites, win, it’s their losses, whether in a Super Bowl or an Olympic final, and how they handle falling short in what for some might be the literal chance of a lifetime that define them in our memories long after they’ve retired from their sport. The history of sports is replete with those who have blamed others for their own failures, and needless to say they are seldom accorded a space in our personal pantheon of sporting heroes. But those who accept responsibility for coming up short in the big moment, and even better, can laugh about it, become admired as much for their outlook and attitude as for any medals or championships they may have won when fate smiled on them in a kinder moment. Continue reading

They Love L.A.!

The ink, or whatever the electronic equivalent is these days, was barely dry on last week’s announcement that Los Angeles had been awarded the2016 men’s and women’s Olympic Trials marathon when the recriminations and second- and third-guessing began.

Members of the L.A. Organizing Committee and USATF officials stand in front of the Coliseum facade after the announcement that the 2016 Olympic Trials marathon would be held in Los Angeles.

Members of the L.A. Organizing Committee and USATF officials stand in front of the Coliseum facade after the announcement that the 2016 Olympic Trials marathon would be held in Los Angeles.

Athletes, who had a stake in it, and fans and journalists, who had little or none, immediately questioned the decision of USATF CEO Max Siegel to select L.A. over Houston, which had been the choice of the members of the Long Distance Running committees at the USATF Annual Meeting in Indianapolis back in December.
That Siegel seemingly disregarded, or at least went against, those wishes might have been controversial, but was completely within the bylaws of the organization, which gave him the final say-so on awarding the Oylympic Trials. And indeed, it wasn’t totally surprising, given that the announcement didn’t come in Indy, but almost two months later. The prevailing feeling, ultimately proven correct, was that the longer the delay, the greater the chance that Houston was going to come out on the short end.

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