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USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships

October 2004
George Mathews

Decatur Provides a Unique Experience

This year's USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Decatur, Ill., was truly a unique experience for a "coastal" person like me. Even though I lived in Mansfield, Ohio, for three years during the seventies, I forgot how beautiful the Midwest can be during the summer months. The weather couldn't have been better any place in the United States. The corn was taller than I am, and the people couldnt have been more amicable.

Decatur is "really" in the middle of the state and the nation. Besides flying directly into Decatur by prop plane, people drove in from Chicago, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Urbana, Springfield, Ill., and St. Louis, to name a few cities.

It was a pleasure getting to see this agricultural wonderland. I also had a pork tenderloin sandwich, my first in a long time.

Decatur was jumping during our weekend there. Their annual "Decatur Celebration" was in progress and a major tennis tournament was going on. Lots to do!

Friendly Atmosphere

The best part, though, was the friendly people. The LOC, lead by Don Luy, and everyone even remotely associated with the meet had a "can do" attitude. When we asked for some changes, they were happy to accommodate. Thanks to everyone associated with this meet.

I hope that Decatur will bid for the 2007 Championships that will be up for bid at our annual meeting in Portland, Ore., in December. It really makes sense to rotate this championship, Eastern U.S., Western U.S. and Midwest.

We hadn't been to the Midwest since 1995 at East Lansing, Mich. That's too long. I saw many new faces at this Championships. We always get a large number of members participating from that part of the country in which the meet is held . Let's keep the rotation idea alive.

I also want again to thank Sandy Pashkin and the Games Committee for doing a fantastic job in helping make sure the meet was conducted in a safe manner and followed the rules that guarantee a level playing field for all.

Sticking to the Rules

We also reaffirmed the Games Committee's position as the final word in the conduct of our championship meets.

In this regard, we do have some concern of a future venues seeming challenge to the Games Committee prerogative. Awards by The Masters Committee to championships bidders are based on the conduct and rules as we understand them at the time of award.

If in the unlikely chance the rules might change, I would maintain that they could only apply to Championships that haven't been awarded yet. If major changes in the rules do occur, I believe we should re-bid the Championships which would be affected by the rule changes. If we didn't, our membership would be getting a different meet than they voted for.

Trials

Eliminating trials, having qualifying standards, and timed finals I think runs against everything our membership has told me they are against.

This would mean that many athletes of the local membership may not get a chance to participate. A courageous fellow like Marshall Moore, 47, Exeter, N.H., might not be able to challenge the Parkinson's disease that he fought so valiantly in the Championships in Decatur. Time trials are sometimes necessary in preliminary rounds, but I believe it is unfair for an athlete not to be able to go head to head against his or her competition in the finals.

I am sure you will all re-affirm or disagree with this position. That's what makes this country and USATF such great organizations.

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