- October 24, 2012 at 3:46 am #12522
Pretty interesting article on both the leader and the organization. Not too surprised to see a divergence between member competition preferences and organizational goals. I suspected that (much like with Boston) locals were being shut out of the marathon in favor of rich tourists, now apparently even the races intended for local competitors are being inundated with finisher types per the organization's strategies. Perhaps that is simply what comes with living in a metropolis the size of NYC at a time when running continues to boom?
- October 25, 2012 at 1:53 am #32650
It is very interesting. In a city like New York, there is a place for NYRR and I do think it serves a purpose, not just for NYC running but for the American and even world running communities. That said, I think any city needs a smaller, runner-oriented club. NYRR has become a corporation, whether they want to call it that or not. Cities also need what some of the critics are saying NYRR no longer is, that runner-centric, community/local runner-centric club. The club that hosts well organized races for reasonable prices. The club that takes care of the local runners, young and old. NYRR may have been that in the past. Now, it's the corporation that takes care of itself and its major clients and products. Again, there is room for that in New York but it shouldn't come at the expense of the community-focused club.
- October 26, 2012 at 3:26 am #32651
Your comments remind me of the criticisms of USATF as it attempts to serve both the pro and the youth, masters, open portions of the sport (and does a mediocre job in pretty much all areas). I do not know if I would consider NYRR a club, per se, now or ever. Seems more like an umbrella/administrative association that coordinates among many parties (see the list of member clubs). Houston has a similar organization, HARRA, that maintains appropriate levels of autonomy and mission focus. I suppose NYRR could possibly have reintained ownership of the marathon while contracting out for professional sports management to run the event as its own entity that would not have to draw resources from the overarching mission of the NYRR. I seems an odd situation where arguably the greatest competition in the sport of distance running, NYCM, is run by a nonprofit corporation. What other professional sports have constrained themselves thusly? Even something as niche as pro indoor lacrosse is for profit. Just further testament to the steadfast remaining vestiges of amateurism in distance running at the pro level.
- October 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm #32652
I see the USATF as having similar issues as NYRR. Bottom line, in no area can one organization serve all constituencies in such a broad area. USATF and NYRR both should define their scope and let other organizations take on the areas they can't focus on. In my opinion, USATF should focus on the pros and let others, maybe RRCA for one, fill the other roles it currently tries to take on. NYRR could either take NYCM, Fifth Street Mile, etc. and let other organizations focus on the local running community or spin off a NYC-centric professional racing series to handle those races while it focuses on the local running communities.
It's not that organizations with different focuses can't work together but having a single organization in charge of everything just spreads its resources too far. It ends up losing its focus.
- October 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm #32653
The issue that constrains USATF is that it is chartered by the USOC to serve the Olympic movement, which includes developmental (non-pro) aspects of the sport. Notice that while there is come commonality between them, USA Basketball is not part of the NBA (or vice versa), MLB is not part of USA Baseball, USA Soccer is not part and parcel of MLS, etc. USATF was not set up as a professional sports organization, either originally as AAU or then as TAC which is now USATF. Expecting USATF to do a good job at something it was never intended to do just is not wise. A professional sport should be run by professionals in 2012, not volunteers. Anyway, the criticism of NYRR from its membership is interesting. Did NYRR fail to anticipate what impact its decisions would have on the general membership? Or did leadership just not care?
- October 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm #32654
Valid point. It would be great to see a professional T&F/road running (or a separate one for each) organization. Maybe a New York or Eugene based organization. Maybe a road running one based in NY and a T&F one in Eugene even. Maybe wishful thinking, though.
- October 30, 2012 at 4:36 am #32655
Likely wishful thinking, alas. The sport would need to have far more people in positions of power become far more interested in organizing on a grand scale while becoming less interested in their own immediate gains or those of their particular organization. I am reminded of something I read recently, I would say it is reflective of a perspective that needs to spread for there to be much of any hope of the sport finding greater health at the pro level: http://www.perelman-pioneer.com/?p=726
- October 31, 2012 at 1:10 am #32656
I still like the idea of a T&F series like mentioned near the end of that atricle. Show the meet live, make it TV friendly (as little downtime as possible between events, fill time between track events with field action, things along that line) and do a series during the football off-season to fill Sunday afternoons. I really like the idea of syndicating to Europe. This series could travel the country, using collegiate tracks and offering free or low-fee entries for spectators (I'd say make it free for kids, a nominal charge for adults). If the meets were run and televised in the right way, I could see myself going to them. If one came through the Milwaukee area, I could see taking the family to one.
- November 2, 2012 at 12:52 am #32657
Slightly off topic but what do you think of the decision to go on with the marathon? I admit that I really don't know enough about the current state of the city to really have an informed opinion. As I come from a small town I really cannot wrap my mind about just how big New York City is and what it can accomplish by Sunday. Of course the marathon is no little town 400 person road race either. In the comment section of this article http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/sports/officials-defend-decision-to-run-new-york-city-marathon-in-storms-aftermath.html I noticed very little support for the marathon and much concern for transportation problems, displaced people getting booted out of hotels to make room for marathoners, and the current state of Staten Island.
When it comes down to it this perhaps a no win situation for the NYRR. If I was signed up to run this year's NYCM I would chose to stay home. Runners are used to things outside of anyone's control wrecking race plans. Unlikely that I would ever get caught in that situation though as I am way too cheap to ever sign up and travel to the race in the first place.
- November 2, 2012 at 1:41 am #32658
Charlene, I was just returning with thoughts on that very topic. I am unsure what to think and am glad it was not my decision. Since they have committed to going through with it then I hope all goes well enough. However, there is the concern, given what was revealed in the article linked above, that NYRR ambition/greed had them pushing to find any possible way to go ahead with the race. I doubt that postponement was ever an option, it was either run the race or cancel. I would point out that it is usually the countering view that gets voiced in response, usually those in agreement will not submit comment. You are ultimately right, neither decision would have painted NYRR in a good light. I am also with you, NYCM has priced itself well out of my budget. A friend of mine is part of the elite women's field (the winner of the Green Bay Marathon mentioned in another thread), it will be interesting to get her full account after the race.
- November 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm #32659
I think a lot of us have been thinking over this. I've had some trouble posting about it because I honestly don't know what to feel about this. It's truly a no win situation for NYRR. Run it and you'll get all the complaints that you see now. Don't run it and you're giving in, not rising to the challenge, deflating the spirit of whomever, whatever else.
It's a tough situation they are in. The timing is about as bad as you can get. If the hurricane hit a week or two earlier or the race was a week or two later, power would be restored, transportation would be running again and most of the not so severe damage would be cleaned up. It would have been a great testament to the city's ability to overcome adversity. As it is, it may still be such a great testament but it's coming at a time when people are still without power, transportation systems are still limited at best and people who live in the city need a place to stay and a helping hand. Of course, rescheduling something of this scale on such short notice is essentially impossible.
I've been following the arguments for and against going forward with the race. I wish I had a simple answer as to what is right. Instead, I find myself agreeing with arguments on both sides. I feel for the people who have to make the decision. Even more, I feel for the runners who have to decide, do I go or not? I'm glad I don't have to make that decision.
- November 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm #32660
By the way Andrew, your friend just can't catch a weather break, can she? If I'm thinking of running a marathon, I might have to check on what she's running. Combine my marathon weather luck with her even worse marathon weather luck and you could end up with a cat 5 hurricane on race day…even if it were in Nebraska.
- November 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm #32661
Just saw an announcement that NYCM will NOT be run this Sunday.
- November 3, 2012 at 1:20 am #32662
Unreal, apparently NYRR really is an amateur organization after all.
- November 3, 2012 at 2:30 am #32663
I think that both the Bloomburg and Mary realized that they were about to commit political suicide.
- November 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm #32664
I suspect that Wittenberg already might have. She was, in turn, insensitive to locals and then to those coming from out-of-town. It is apparent that she had zero working contingency plan in place, which is a bad look for a CEO.
- November 4, 2012 at 2:04 am #32665
I think they should have realized it Tuesday, Wednesday at the very latest. The more I think about it, the more I think it was a bad idea to try to hold it from the very beginning. From what I'm hearing, Staten Island is in horrible shape and the last thing they need is tens of thousands of people running through their streets when they are just struggling to return to some semblance of a normal life.
I feel for the runners, especially the elites who were counting on this race as a major source of their yearly income. It has put some of them in a very bad position. However, their livelihoods aren't the only ones being affected. People are talking about comparing the cancellation of this to the non-cancellation of basketball and football games. They have to realize that basketball and football games only affect very small parts of cities. A marathon affects every part of the 26 miles it goes through. There is a big difference, especially if the stadium and arena are in less hard hit parts of the city (as I understand it, they are) than parts of the marathon course.
- November 5, 2012 at 12:50 am #32666
Right, the implied comparisons to pro football and pro basketball are silly, at best. If nothing else, those games could be moved to alternate venues (see: Katrina). The financials for those sporting events are dependent on both season ticket sales and cable subscription sales and provide salaries for players and staff. How much of that resembles a marathon, even a WMM event? Little at all. If all ground transportation were halted well after Sandy, as it was with Katrina, then no doubt those games would have been moved, postponed, or canceled. Having dedicated venues for those contests renders moving or postponement far more reasonable. It was only the subway that was flooded, so only the fans entirely reliant on the subway to get to games would have been unable to get there. (Never mind that the football stadium is in New Jersey and thus not directly subject to decisions made by NY government agencies.) As you say, those contests are pretty much confined to the stadium areas, they do not require distributing resources (aid, police, sanitation) along a 26-mile route through the city.
Also, the notion that they should hold a race for just the invited elites entirely within Central Park would be an insult to all those people who not only paid the exorbitant entry fee, but then spent money on travel and lodging through Friday. And, honestly, those are the people that this race is really about anymore, the affluent (as noted in the above-linked article, NYRR caters directly, if not entirely, to them) who can afford such extracurricular trips. The entry fee itself makes that fact quite clear. I may not be a fan of that fact, but I can recognize that reality and its impact on NYRR decisions. As such, the affluent masses are given higher consideration than invited elites – NYRR can always entice elites to come back next year, they cannot risk (further) alienating their paying customers. For the elites who were depending on prize money here to make up a significant part of their annual income, the outcome is no different than if they had become injured in their training build-up. It is something out of their control. Also, this is a position that they allowed themselves to be put in. They let NYRR (and its cohorts) wield this much power. There is no such thing as guaranteed income from races. In other (real) pro sports, the players unionize and bargain collectively for better terms for themselves. Remember concepts like a half-marathon WMM or a minor leagues WMM? Those would benefit the athletes and provide better income opportunities. But those are not going to just be offered to them, if they will not organize sufficiently and make demands for their own benefit then they have to accept the status quo, on both small and broad scales. As it stands, all athletes in road running are independent contractors dealing with corporations that are more powerful than ever. I know that unions get a bad name, but in today's free market it is the way for labor to make sure its interests are given proper consideration. Anyway, this is getting sort of rambling and blustery.
The other answer for those who were so reliant on the NYCM payday: race more. Greg Meyer and Benji Durden, to name just two, have been known to criticize how seldom today's U.S. elites race. Why not race two half-marathons and two or three 10Ks and 5Ks in the marathon build-up? Combined prize money may not net the same as being in the top five at NYCM but it sure helps a lot if one runs into a bad day before or during NYCM or something else unplanned (like a hurricane) takes the possibility of prize money away. At least they have homes to return to and can race more next month and next year to make up for it – in this specific context we are talking about hundreds and thousands of people who have lost their homes, businesses, and loved ones to this storm, which is not at all comparable on the level of loss.
- December 9, 2012 at 3:37 am #32667
I like this column from Roger Robinson on the 2012 marathon season, with good commentary on NYCM: http://www.runnersworld.com/rt-columns/roger-running-season-storm-and-stress
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