Friday, November 7, 2008

Is Track & Field Ready For Change?

Change is the new vogue?

Change now. Change today. Doug Logan promised change and improvement when he was hired. The newly hired CEO of USA Track & Field has wasted no time in taking initial steps to make improvement to raise the sport back from the doldrums.

Nothing endures but change was written by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus over some 2,000 years ago.

Logan has taken a few months to access the situation and talk to stakeholders in the sport. In Beijing, Team USA experienced dropped batons in the men's and women's 4x100-meter relays and he wasted no time in assembling a panel of experts led by Carl Lewis to investigate the matter and report back recommendations.

The efforts of change do not stop there. Here is what Logan said about his latest move to build a bigger and better sport.

"USA Track & Field's Board of Directors has approved several proposed changes to USATF Bylaws aimed at restructuring how we govern ourselves and how we do business. These proposed changes are the results of countless hours and days of analyzing ourselves as an organization and working together to come up with a blueprint that will put USATF in the best possible position moving forward."

In effect, Logan's proposal will reduce the board size from 32 to 15. Why does this matter you ask? The sports chief is building an efficient organization, capable of moving nimbly to adapt to change as time goes on.

To say that the next phase of change for the sport is an uphill battle is an understatement, and the environment could not be more difficult.

The U.S. sports fan is cash strapped. The current economic environment has forced the NBA to slash 9% of its force or about 80 jobs, and the Charlotte Bobcats were forced to lay off 35 non-basketball positions.

In every cloud, lies a silver lining

The key is marketing. Logan is well-advised in taking to his blog "Shin Splints," bypassing barriers in order to communicate his message directly with fans, athletes, parents, and the media.

Today the average NBA tickets is $55.95, making a night out cost nearly $400 for a family of four, while track remains affordable. Logan could market track and field could as an "entertainment stimulus package" in relationship to the NBA, NFL, and MBL. Fans can bring the family to night of track and field without having to gett an second mortgage on their homes.

Finally, Logan needs to identify and then develop a superstar athlete that excites fans, becoming a figure with drawing power. Sometimes the best way to deliver change is by working with what you already have.

Jay Hicks for Prerace Jitters.

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