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Masters Track & Field
Chair Report - September 2006

George Mathews

Officials and Games Committee Save Charlotte What Really Happened
   
  We have all had a little time to reflect on what happened at our 
National  Championships in Charlotte in August. There were many forces 
working against us during this meet. The biggest one, of course, was 
Mother Nature.  She can be very difficult to deal with when it comes to 
running a complicated meet like our National Championships.

  The saving heroes of this Champion-ships were the officials and your 
Games Committee, comprised of the following: meet leader, Games 
Committee Vice Chair Carroll De Weese, Rex Harvey, Becky Sisley and 
Dick Hotchkiss. Sandy Pashkin, our ex-Games Commit-tee Chair, also 
served as consultant to the Games Committee. I represented the Masters 
Committee.

  We had the best group of officials ever assembled for any of our 
masters meets and maybe any USATF meet, period. They were led by 
Coordinator of Officials Tony Wayne and his outstanding groups of 
referees.

 Relentless Efforts

  No group has ever put out as much for a meet as these two groups did. 
I could go on and on to describe the countless hours and decisions in 
which these people were involved.  I will describe some of the 
significant actions and decisions that I believe saved the meet.

  It began on Wednesday, the day before the start of the meet.  The 
Games Committee met for many hours refining the schedule. This isnt 
unusual after we get the final entries, but it is time-consuming.

  We presented the revised schedule to the meet organizers and asked 
that it be reprinted. They said they couldnt afford this expense, so 
we went out and bought paper and started the reprint ourselves.

 Heat Advisory

  On Thursday around noon the meet was stopped by the campus police and 
the Charlotte Fire Department. Besides the heat advisory that we didnt 
know about, the paramedic and trainer on site were overwhelmed with 
over 40 people who needed care. We subsequently were advised that the 
meet organizer was told in advance that one paramedic was not enough to 
cover a meet of this size.

  I negotiated with the police and fire chief to stop the meet until 7 
p.m., and to suspend the meet from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. if a heat 
advisory should be called on Friday. The heat advisory was called, and 
we had to adjust to this six-hour delay on Friday.

  The police and fire department stipulated that we must provide more 
ice, water and electrolytes for our participants and that we must have 
a medic ambulance on site for the remainder of the meet.  The meet 
organizer reluctantly agreed to provide more water, ice and some 
electrolytes for the officials, but not electrolytes for the athletes.

  The Games Committee went out and purchased 800 bottles of Gatorade for 
the athletes.

 Medical Aid

  I advised the meet organizer that he had to contract the medic 
ambulance for the rest of the meet. He said he didnt have the money 
for that. I told him that he had to for the safety of the participants. 
By 4 p.m. that afternoon, when he hadnt made contact with the medic 
unit, I contracted with them for the rest of the meet.  Happily, this 
$100/hr. service was provided to us at no charge.

 Revised Schedule

  The Games Committee had to work non-stop to revise the schedule for 
Thursday evening, and the officials had to come back and work until 
after midnight to finish Thursdays schedule. Then the Games Committee 
had to rework and print up a new schedule for Friday.

  We started Friday and the revised schedule was working well until a 
lightning storm arrived around 8:30 p.m., and we had to stop the meet 
and evacuate the stadium to the parking garage. After 30 minutes, we 
realized the storm wasnt moving and were forced to call the meet for 
the evening. The Games Committee worked through the night revising the 
schedule again to make up what was lost on Friday night and get 
Saturday completed by 7 p.m.

  The athletes who missed events because of the lightning were asked to 
report to the stadium Saturday morning to see the new schedule. 
Overnight, the Games Committee posted the new schedule in the dorms and 
the hotel. We were advised by Tony Wayne that for the safety of his 
officials we should go to four attempts in the throws.

 Safety First

  Even though our rules say the championships shall consist of three 
preliminary attempts and three final attempts, safety trumps all rules, 
and we agreed, for the safety of the officials, to go with four 
attempts, with no finals, in the throws and horizontal jumps. I 
personally didnt love it, since my hammer competition was affected. 
But, so be it.

  Actually, most of the athletes liked the rolling schedule that was 
developed, and competing in the evening. We are looking for more 
evening competition and shorter days, particularly for the officials; 
12- and 18-hour days are too much for anyone.

 Divided Banquet

  Fortunately, the only other surprise we had on Saturday was that the 
Organizing Committee decided, without Masters Committee approval, to 
put our officials in a separate building for the Banquet. No 
entertainment or ceremony for the people who served us so well. They 
couldnt go to the other building after eating, because of a tremendous 
rain and lightning storm. Your Games Committee split up with half being 
with the athletes and the other half being with the officials.

 Lack of Ice and Fluids

  I thought Sunday was going well, until I was advised that they were 
out of electrolyte drinks and running out of ice. I advised the meet 
organizer that I would stop the meet again for safety reasons if this 
wasnt taken care of immediately. The track coach responded with Power 
Aide powder, and because of no response on the ice, we were forced to 
go out and buy 79 bags of ice.

  The regular three qualifying and three final attempts were restored 
for most of Sundays competition.

 Medal Ceremonies

  Shortly after noon an athlete reported to me that they were not having 
the medals ceremony. I asked the meet director about it, and he said he 
had volunteers and didnt understand it. I immediately went down to see 
what was going on and found three volunteers completely overwhelmed 
with the heat and the task at hand.

  The Games Committee jumped in with the fantastic assistance of Marilyn 
Mitchell and completed the awards process. The meet director did come 
down and give us some assistance. Unfortunately, while I was down in 
that area I had the sad experience of trying to use one of the four 
porta potties, all of which were filled up and obviously hadnt been 
pumped.

 Transportation

  The only other unusual problem, besides the normal tremendous paper 
work that had to be completed, was that the Games Committee had to 
shuttle to the cafeteria, which was a significant distance away, and 
stranded senior athletes who were abandoned at the dorms when the meet 
organizer let the shuttle people go home.

  Other than that things were great. I think most athletes got what they 
came for. Thank you, again, Officials and Games Committee.

 Resignation

  I must also report that at the Executive Committee meeting we had on 
Friday, I tendered my resignation effective at the close of the Annual 
Meeting in December. I asked the Executive Committee to have an 
election to select my replacement.

  I must say I have had mostly fun for almost six years, but have made 
the decision to simplify my life.  I am starting a new business and 
want to spend more time with my lovely wife, Kate, my children and 
grandchildren.  I havent been home for my wifes birthday, Dec. 2, in 
15 years.

  Several people in our organization have been aware of my decision long 
before this meeting. It has nothing to do with some recent  elected 
officer difficulties.

 Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you.

(George Mathews can be contacted by e-mail here.)
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