I'll keep this somewhat brief.
I had the privilege of attending The Millrose Games at the Armory this past weekend and was treated to the single greatest display of athletic competition I've ever seen with my own eyes. I could gush about almost any event, but surely that record smashing 5000m and the fantastic Wanamaker Miles (men & women) will stick with me for a while.
It's hard to describe the feeling you get when you're screaming at the top of your lungs but you can barely hear yourself--standing within a few meters of a truly historic 5k final and looking around to see a stadium on its feet howling in anticipation of the finishing kick. Truly, I was in awe to be present at such a solid turn of the corner in American distance running.
Many had wondered if the armory would be able to match the magic of Madison Square Garden. I had only viewed those races on TV, so it's not my place to compare and contrast the two. But surely if some history was lost, a new tradition started off with its fair share of historical significance. Still, I can understand why some people are sore about it.
However, I can't understand how the USATF is so unprofessional about it.
It was brought to my attention that the USATF homepage had no coverage of the numerous American Records broken at the Armory. Looking further into their website, I found in Section II, Article 3 of the USATF bylaws a rather fitting passage:
2. Management: Promoting Athletics and athletes by conducting competitions and other events, and cooperating with and encouraging other organizations that may do so.
The national governing body of Track & Field had failed to retain affiliation with one of Track's finest events…and after working so hard to save the games and keep them at the Garden, they're not without their case for some sympathy; But not acknowledging American Records is a low blow.
Here's a little wake up call. It is those athletes that you are disregarding and disrespecting that are making a difference in our sport today. They are the ones advancing our national presence and popularity through their hard work and outreach. You may think yourselves clever for not mentioning anything of their achievements while showering praise over your own events, but you do so at the sport's expense. You should be excited about all of the amazing performances from the weekend, and further you should be sharing their story instead of holding some petty grudge.
[Sidenote: No disrespect to Galen's incredible performance (new Flotrack interview with Galen here) as well as the other athletes at the USATF classic]. I'd love to see a poll of which record breaking race fans would have liked to attend: Galen's solo 2 mile record, or Lagat and company's 5k? As fantastic of a step forward the 2 mile American Record is, pure exhibition is simply doing nothing for our status and popularity as a sport. And what a surprise, better competition at Millrose equals better results across the board…hmmm interesting. Granted, athletes deserve the freedom to approach the season as they see fit (especially during an Olympic year), but at the same time they must understand that our sport needs them to just get out and race eachother every now and then.
I saw just how special our sport can be this weekend, and if we want that kind of excitement to continue we must work with eachother and not within our own interests.
Ryan Craven is not the only one to voice their opinion about this matter, check out what Jesse Squire (a.k.a. TrackSuperFan) had to say on his blog.