Ed Torres, a member of the United States of America Track and Field (USATF) Long Distance Running Committee, revealed shocking news on LA defeating Houston when it won the bid to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. LA will pay its athletes $100,000 less than Houston would have paid competitors at its venue. What is confusing is that the committee unanimously recommended Houston based on two reasons: the prize money, and the early date in January to allow runners to compete in the Trials in June. LA offers neither accommodation, yet LA was chosen. LA’s failure to accommodate athletes, both in prize money and by date (LA since changed its date to February) seriously questions LA’s commitment to the athletes of this sport.
The article is short, but it raises some interesting discussion points. The point of the article suggests awareness, both to the athletes, spectators, and others interested in seeing justice to the athletes. As the article mentions, athletes (in particular, track and field athletes) have experienced drops in a sport where, despite immense popularity, many of its professional athletes struggle to eke out a living. The prize money Houston offered offers elite athletes the opportunity to continue training at those elite levels. All hope is not lost yet; allegedly, LA could match Houston’s offer and provide higher prize money. But, that still leaves the February date up in the air, as competitors who want to compete in both the Marathon Trials and the Track and Field Trials may suffer.
Switching to the East Coast, we turn to Boston. Yesterday, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) released a new app designed for the Boston Marathon – the goal of which is to increase participation in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Do not think of participation in the sense of attracting more competitors to run in the event; rather, its purpose is to “to expand the marathon experience to those who couldn’t run it.” The app offers to “join groups, pledge a distance, share photos, and interact with current Boston Marathon elite athletes as well as past athletes.” Marketing and sponsorship manager T.K. Skenderian hopes that the app will encourage runners from all over the world to post pictures on the new app, while simultaneously serving as a running promotion in the hope that non-runners will feel empowered to start running.
Slopestyle event will make its first appearance in the 2016 Sochi Olympics, but it is off to a shaky and uncertain start. Generally, slopestyle is an event where competitors (skiiers and snowboarders, but typically snowboarders) will encounter jumps and rails, and the goal is to perform as many difficult tricks without falling as possible. Two-time Gold Medalist Shaun White injured his wrist while practicing on the course, and made the announcement yesterday that he will back out of the slopestyle competition. The injured wrist was not the reason for backing out: in an interview yesterday, he stated, “with the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on.” Despite course modifications made after a number of complaints by athletes this past Monday, riders still took falls, some of which were potentially Olympic-ending injuries. For instance, Finland’s Marika Enne crashed on the course’s final jump and “was taken out on a stretcher” after suffering a blow to the head. Defending Olympian and now news correspondent Lindsey Vonn commented on White’s decision not to compete, saying, “obviously if Shaun’s not racing, that kind of speaks for itself.” While slopestyle has its inherent dangers, it is the creation of conditions that make it even more dangerous creates huge problems.
Speaking of safety, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak calls for the media to relax about safety concerns in a statement this morning, saying that potential terrorist attacks are “overblown,” and that Sochi is no more at risk of a terrorist attack “than any other city on the planet.” New deputy Commissioner Adam Silver outlines his priorities over the next few years, one of which includes the expiration of a contract on matter related to television rights with ESPN, ABC and TNT. The vagueness of Silver’s intent to remain with the current networks may reveal future scouting of other TV stations, although there is no direct evidence to support this. Finally, attorneys for former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt filed a motion yesterday, seeking to reimburse approximately $2 million dollars in legal fees that he spent “after she unsuccessfully contested their divorce settlement last year.” In 2012, the Dodgers were sold for over $2 billion dollars, and the wife contested the amount she was to receive. Based on the agreement, she received 131 million tax-free dollars, as well as several luxury homes. The court will hear the motion on March 12, 2014.