Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Saturday, December 21, 2019

V 9 N. 53 The Exclusive Five and Ten Club, a Review by Paul O'Shea

On The Starting Line With The Exclusive Five-and-Ten Club

Book Review

By Paul O'Shea

How do you measure greatness in an athlete?  In distance running at the highest level, the traditional metrics are honors won, meeting performances and world rankings.  Richard Amery offers another test:  runners who set world records at both five thousand and ten thousand meters.  They live in a high-end zip code.

Only ten men in the last 107 years have set world records at both distances.  Since the the IAAF (now World Athletics) began recognizing records in each event in 1912, the shorter race has seen 35 record performances, the longer, 37 marks.

In his splendid new book,  The Five and Ten Men:  Ten Men Who Redefined Distance Running, Amery brings this group to life through an expansive recounting of their careers.  It's a valuable book for the nostalgic fan, as well as the novice who wants to learn more about the sport's rich history.
Emil Zatopek
Amery says in the book's introduction, "I've always been interested in distance running.  Not because of any great ability on my part.  My only ever-decent run was somewhat tainted.  I won the South Australian State marathon but was soon disqualified (later reinstated) for wearing the wrong colored shorts!

The book's subjects chose themselves.  Of the many record holders over these classic distances, there have only ever been ten who held both records.  Were it to be a book on the ten greatest distance runners, the list would probably not be much different."
Paavo Nurmi, the first to hold both records
Taisto  Maki, first to break 30:00

Amery understands that comparing sporting performances over different eras is difficult.  "Distance running, in line with most other sports, has undergone great changes in the last eighty years or so in the period during which the individuals covered in this book competed."

Kenenisa Bekele the latest to hold both records

Meticulously researched and reported,  The Five and Ten Men (2019, 301 pages, Book Depository  and Amazon)  presents such familiar names as Nurmi, Zatopek, Gebrselassie, and Bekele.  Kuts, Clarke, Viren, and Rono are also among the dual record holders.  Mostly forgotten today are Taisto Maki and Sandor Iharos.  Geb leads the five-and-ten set with seven world records.  Next are Zatopek and Clarke with six each.  Bekele currently holds both, the first set in 2004, the other a year later.

Haile Gebrselassie

Lasse Viren
Some historically boldface names were never able to set both records.  Among them:  Gunder Hagg, Said Aouita, Paul Tergat, Mo Farah, and Eliud Kipchoge.

Or the more obscure distance doublers, Maki and Iharos each suffered greatly because of the chaotic political  events affecting the world, before and after the Second World War.

Taisto Maki was the first to break thirty minutes for 10,000 meters.  The Finnish distance runner set two world records at that distance, taking ten seconds off his own mark, with 29:52.6. 

Sandor Iharos and Lazlo Tabori
Sandor Iharos was a key member of the highly successful Hungarian trio coached by Mihaly Igloi (Istvan Rozsavolgyi, Lazlo Tabori, his compatriots).  He broke the five thousand twice, the second race reclaiming the honor from Kuts.  Iharos was also one of  only two athletes (the other, Nurmi) to hold world records over 1500, 5000, and 10,000 meters.  Amery ably describes the Hungarian revolution enveloping Iharos and others as the country struggled with Russian aggression.  
Henry Rono

Ron Clarke
One of the distance legends covered in The Five and Ten Men is Australian Ron Clarke,  successful from the fifteen hundred to the marathon.  He was the first to run three miles in less than thirteen minutes.  Four days later he was the first to run ten thousand in less than twenty-eight-minutes.

"Clarkey" was a familiar face on the starting line.  During a 44-day European tour in 1965 he competed 18 times and broke twelve world records including the 20,000 meters and the one-hour run.

For Clarke, his record suffered from never having won Oympic gold, notwithstanding a career few exceeded.  Those who saw it in person and those who find it on You Tube, remember Billy Mills' desperate charge in the home stretch of the 1964 Olympic ten thousand, and Clarke's stricken face as the American crosses the finish line several meters ahead to win gold.  His bronze was to be his only Olympic medal; Zatopek gave him one of the Czech's own golds as a gift.

Vladimir Kuts leading Gordon Pirie

Enriching the stories that Amery tells  are thirty-nine photos of the ten in action, many of them this writer had not seen.  The book's cover shows Russian Vladimir Kuts winning the Olympic five thousand at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Author, Richard Amery

A retired high school physical education teacher, Amery and his wife, Christine, live in the Adelaide hills of Australia.  (Ed. note.  The Adelaide hills are currently  in the middle of severe forest fires at the time of this writing.)  In his early years he was an accomplished runner.  "Now, on my morning runs with my border collie, I normally see no one, just the wildlife, mainly kangaroos.

"I've always had an interest in both history and distance running, and I hope this book is some demonstration of that interest.  I've tried to tell stories that I think are worth telling, but in many cases have either been forgotten or never really told in the first place."

In an epilogue, the author traces the decline of performances at these distances to the growth of road
racing, especially the big city marathons and their magnificent financial rewards. Adding to the
deterioration are the lack of competitive opportunities stemming from the excision of longer races at
international meets. We're approaching Seb Coe's ninety-minute plan.

"The only certainty is that the 5,000m and 10,000m records (as of August 2019) will be broken,"
Amery writes. "Despite the longevity of the present records, sooner or later there will be others who
come along with the necessary physical and mental requisites to run better times. It will not be easy.
The last three record holders in both distances have been exceptional talents living in almost ideal
environments from a distance running viewpoint, in addition to undertaking excellent (and hard)
training. But broken they will be. Nothing is more certain."

A world record is like a Patek Philippe watch. You never actually own one. You merely look after it
for the next generation.

Current titleholder, Kenenisa Bekele: 12:37.35 and 26:17.53.

Paul O'Shea is a lifelong participant in the track and field world. After retirement from a career in
corporate communications he coached a high school girls cross country team and was a long-time
contributor to Cross Cournty Journal. He writes for Once Upon a Time in the Vest from Northern
Virginia. He can be reached at Poshea17@aol.com.


Ed. Note. In looking for pictures for this article, I found a wealth of them
and want to add some more below.

Jack and Ron Clarke. 
 Jack, an Aussie Rules footballer is as famous in Australia as his brother.

Lasse Viren

Rozsavolgyi taking handoff from Iharos in the heyday

Paavo Nurmi

Sandor Iharos at White City Stadium, London, England

Viren winning 10,000 at Munich ahead of Emiel Puttemans and Miruts Yifter

Paavo Nurmi

Let's not forget that Rono had WR steeple too.  

Emil Zatopek's improvised cooling system during Helsinki marathon

Emil Zatopek speaking in the streets during the Prague Spring in 1968
He would be banished from an army officer's retirement  life  to working in a uranium mne for this defiance.

Henry Rono
Paavo Nurmi looking remarkably like Greta Thunberg
The podium at la Cross de l'Humanite 1955
Jerzy Chromik, Vladimir Kuts, Emil Zatopek
Haile Gebrsellasie taking down Paul Tergat at Sydney
Emil Zatopek on the track
Lasse Viren in the forest

Haile Gebrselassie with Mo Farah and Kenenisa Bekele

Haile Gebrsellasie

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

V9 N. 52 Dean Smith, An American Gold Medallist You May Not Know

Dean Smith

Thanks to Ricardo Romo for putting me onto the Dean Smith story.  Smith was a Texas Longhorn football player and track sprinter in the late 1940s and early 1950s and one of the fastest men in the US and the planet at that time.  He made the US team in 1952 with Lindy Remigino and finished a close fourth in the 100 meters, then came back in the 4x100 meters and earned a gold medal.  Smith had grown up on a ranch in Texas and had a lot of the skills of a cowboy which would serve him well for the rest of his life.  He had a friend in Hollywood and turned up there after the Olympics and got a job as a stuntman.  His career would enable him to be in ten of John Wayne's western movies including "The Alamo" and "Rio Bravo".  Once he even did a stunt for Maureen O'Hara decked out in a red haired wig.  
Smith between MaDonald Bailey and Lindy Remigino

The Gold Medal 4x100 Relay Team
Harrison Dillar, Lindy Remigino, Andy Stanfield, and Dean Smith

As a Texas Longhorn

With James Garner on the "Maverick" Set
At the 1952 NCAA meet Smith and Remigino only finished 4th and 5th, with Jim Golliday of Northwestern winning.  He would get injured and not make it to Helsinki.  Art Bragg was second at the NCAA and won the Olympic trials but was eliminated in the semis at Helsinki.  It would be up to Remigino and Smith to come through for the Americans and the finish was one of the closest ever with only 0.12 seconds separating 1st from 6th places.Smith still feels he might have deserved the bronze or at least a share of it with E. MaDonald Bailey of Great Britain.  He also notes in the video below that Bailey seems to have run into his lane during the race.  

Here is s 7 minute video of Smith and Remigino discussing their experiences at Helsinki. 

Dean Smith at Helsinki   clik here

Smith recently published a memoir,   "Cowboy Stuntman, From Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen".

Smith was born Finis Dean Smith in Breckenridge, Texas,  January 15, 1932.  He won the AAU 100 meters in 1952.   He also had run a 9.4 100 yards.  After the Olympics he did an army hitch, then  signed with the Los Angeles Rams  and later the Pittsburgh Steelers but did not play in any regular season NFL games.  By then his Hollywood career was taking off and he was also competing in the rodeo circuit in bronc riding and calf roping.  

Some of the 100+ films he has appeared in are The Comancheros, How the West Was Won,   McLintock,    Big Jake,  and TV episodes of  Maverick,  Gunsmoke,  Lawman,  Have Gun Will Travel,   and Walker, Texas Ranger
With Maureen O'Hara on the "McClintock!" set

“I could ride, run and jump.  That was my life.”  Dean Smith

By the way,  Dean Smith is still alive.

Friday, December 13, 2019

V 9 N. 51 Sir Peter Snell R.I.P.

It is with much sadness that we report the passing of a true legend in the world of track and field.
Peter Snell, 1960 800 meters,  1964 800 meters and 1500 meters Olympic Champion who passed away in his sleep last Saturday December 7, 2019.
His 800 in 1960 of 1:46.3 was an Olympic record. 

That  win in Rome was a bit of a surprise to everyone, although Murray Halberg had earlier in the day shown the world what the new school of Lydiard trained Kiwis were capable of doing winning the 5000 meters.  In 1962 in his homeland, Peter would take down the world records in the 880 and mile on a short grass track and better the mile a second time on cinders a year later.  He also set a world record at 1000 yards the first time he raced on an indoor track in Los Angeles. 
Winning the 1500 meters at Tokyo

In 1964 he lowered the 800 OR again to 1:45.1, then took the 1500 in 3:38.1 which did not break Herb Elliott's record.  Peter was one that will be remembered for a long time for many reasons but his powerful stride and strength down the straight will be difficult to forget.  He could kick with anyone in his prime and only rarely lost a race unless his fitness level was not what it should have been at the time.  He made a name for himself athletically but then proved himself more than capable in the classroom, earning a Phd. in Excercise Physiology under Phil Gollnick at Washington State University and then  working for many years at the University of Texas in Dallas Fort Worth.

When he retired from running, I believe he was working for a cigarette company, Rothmans,  in New Zealand, but found this work limiting if he were putting in appearances for a product that was so detrimental to the public health even though they supported sport.  In 1971,  he came to the US to participate in a TV game show Super Stars where well known athletes competed with each other in a number of events not necessarily  relating to the sport where the made their name.  Peter won enough money to fund his way through university and eventually settled in the US.

Ten years ago he began experiencing heart problems and collapsed on the squash or racqetball court and was revived  He was diagnosed with nonischemic cardio myopathy.  He was also fitted with an implanted defibrillator.   Recently he had been having more cardiac trouble and had passed out at the wheel of his car and struck several vehicles.   Clearly things were not right and he eventually succumbed to heart disease.
Christchurch, NZ 880  with our friend John Bork in the AAU top January, 1962

By 1964, his two Olympic wins were no surprise to anyone.  The only question was who would be second in the two races.  Interestingly Bob Schul ran just as fast his last 200 meters in his 5000 to win that event and on a wet, soggy track.  Add those three races to Billy Mills' wonderful win in the 10,000 and and Abebe Bikila's 2nd marathon victory, and  1964 became  one of the greatest Olympics distance shows of all time.
See our earlier issue on that mile record race in Wanganui, NZ  and a follow up article with an exclusive conversation with Peter.

Mile Record at Wanganui       

A Brief Conversation With Peter Snell in 2012

We’ve recently reported on the racing in New Zealand when Peter Snell set records in the mile, 880, 800,  and then went to Los Angeles and set the indoor 1000 yards record and 880 yards as well during that race.  Ernie Cunliffe put us in touch with Peter, and I sent him a few questions about the race at Wanganui, and he graciously responded. 

My questions centered around the effort of running on a short (less than quarter mile ) track, grass surface, what his expectations were going into the race, and what Arthur Lydiard’s role was in that week when the races occurred.  I also asked Peter about getting into his chosen profession of exercise physiology.   I enquired if he knew one of my former colleagues in the field,  John Ivy, who also works in Texas.  Below are the replies that Peter Snell sent.

Wednesday May 16, 2012


Ernie forwarded the piece on Wanganui written by Roy (Mason)  and quite frankly he has it all in a nutshell.  I’m not sure there is much I can add except my thought processes leading up to and during the race.  For example based on the New Years Day run mentioned by Roy, which was done 3 weeks after racing a marathon and during volume intervals in conjunction with long runs, I felt that 3.57 was conservatively realistic – in keeping with my preference for not raising expectations too high publicly. 

Perhaps you can give me some guidance. 


The above draft was written last week and I lost a large chunk of the text when my application crashed.  I was too bummed to try and do it over again.

I had seen very little of Arthur that summer so all he had to go on were race performances, including the marathon, leading up to the Wanganui event.  He may have been aware of my New Year’s day race and put 2 & 2 together, as did I.  He was present at Wanganui but I did not see him until after the race when news people found him and brought him over for a photo attached if I can find it)  His contribution was to publicly predict I would do 3:55 thus adding unwelcome pressure but it certainly filled the stadium.  The non-standard track was not a problem as many of the club tracks on which I did my training were 5 laps to the mile grass.

I preferred firm closely mowed well-rolled grass to loose cinders such as at Tokyo and Rome.  Californian clay tracks were the best and I hated the bitumen track at San Diego.  Too bad today’s rubberized tracks weren’t developed. 

Yes I know John Ivy very well.  My path to becoming an exercise physiologist started in 1974 when I enrolled as a freshman at UC Davis to educate myself out of an unsatisfying Sports PR job with a tobacco company.  Thanks to an invitation to Superstars late 1976, I made enough money to stay on after graduating in 1977 and spend 4 years at Washington State to with Dave Costill’s colleague Phil Gollnick. 
Thanks for the Jazy photo.  I notice Michael Bernard in the photo.  Jazy must have thought the 5000 was the easier race to win.



Wednesday June 6, 2012

George I just saw your photo of Ron Delany and find it interesting to see how well the 1960’s runners are aging.  With this in mind I’m attaching a photo of me, Jim Bailey (1st sub-4 on American soil, 1956) and Dave Wottle.  Also a pic of some good 800 guys at reunion organized by the late Bud Greenspan.


Peter Snell, Tom Courtney, John Woodruff, Dave Wottle

Peter Snell, Jim Bailey, Dave Wottle

From and anonymous source: 
One of my favorite quotes about runners comes from a U S track man (whose name I have forgotten) who competed against Snell when he was touring the United States shortly after being married:
"If we can't beat Snell on his honeymoon, we'll never be able to beat him."
They couldn't!"

Monday, December 9, 2019

V 9 N. 50 The Russians Aren't Coming ! The Russians Aren't Coming !!

December 9, 2019

For the younger readers, our headline paraphrases the 1960s  Alan Arkin film, The Russians Are Coming. The Russians Are Coming about a Soviet submarine that runs adrift off a small Cape Cod community and the reaction of the local villagers.

The Russians Are Coming. The Russians Are Coming: Trailer

So The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has voted unanimously to ban Russian teams and athletes from competing under their flag at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup football competition in Qatar.  The ban will be for four years.  Seems the Russian sport juggernaught has once again run aground this time hitting a submerged testing lab in Lake Lausanne where WADA hangs out.    

However WADA has thrown out a bone for individual Russian athletes who can test clean.  They will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.  Don't ask me who designs the neutral flag, I suggest  a white hankie on a stick.  

The Russians can still appeal this decision, which was unanimous, by going before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).  No way a Russian oligarch will be sitting on that voting body.   This will have to be done very quickly to be successful and still permit Russians  to compete under their own Red White and Blue national flag.  Odds aren't very great that this will happen, unless the Russians can come up with some incriminating video of the panel sitting on the CAS.

Travis Tygart, the Execitive Director for the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) wanted the punishment to go further by not allowing even 'clean' Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics.  

This all boils down to a very politically motivated show of gamesmanship on the part of everyone.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Russians cheated on an institutional level and continue to cheat and attempt manipulation of evidence when given a second chance to come clean.  The world stage is the world stage.  That is why actors wear makeup to aid them in pretending to be some other character.  Now however the commercial side of life makes the selling of advertising and image as important as who wins, and if a little make up will help bring in more glory and sell more tickets, then so be it.    I find it a tad ironic that this same day there was a release of information about how the American public was lied to by three successive governments concerning our involvement in Afghanistan to the cost of $1 Trillion  and 2300 servicemen and women's lives.    George Brose

from Richard Mach


Saw a 2019 movie out of the UK yesterday,  “Official Secrets”, about a female whistleblower working for its equivalent of the CIA during the run up to the Iraq War.  And being asked to find dirty on lesser members of the UN’s Security Council in order to compel them to support what the Yanks and Blair wanted.  And instead leaked it to journalists and what she then endured.   A B movie but nonetheless instructive and jogging any dulled memory around the perfidy of the West.  And as one wag observed ... the first time (Keira) Knightly has appeared in a movie w//out a hooped skirt. 

Comment from Geoff Williams


11:23 AM (9 minutes ago)

to me

Well at least they got that far.  I can only repeat my comments to your earlier note on this subject last month.  Why should WADA or the IOC be made to decide whether Russian athletes are clean or not?  Also the World Cup of Soccer is exactly what its name implies-a tournament for the best countries in the world-therefore the team is banned ( or should be) and that is that.  We are putting up with enough lying and cheating in the world and here we have an opportunity to do something really positive.  Also it would be for the long term benefit of individual Russian athletes .  Maybe Felicity Huffman can talk to Putin and tell him the consequences of cheating.
My teeth are gritted fiercely.   Geoff

Geoff,  I suspect that the Russians are still in the Lori Loughlin phase, somewhat in denial and trying to weasel out of any consequences.  George

Great job George. You my beliefs on the use of performance enhancing drugs in track and field. From high school track and field athletes forward,any track and field athlete tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs by US Anti-Doping Agency should be banned for life from any track and field competition in the US.  M. Gregory

Monday, December 2, 2019

V 7 N. 49 Hayward Field Reconstruction Hitting a Few Snags

Dec. 2, 2019

I've been corresponding with an internet friend about how things were looking at Hayward Field, how the new construction seemed to be coming along down in Eugene, Oregon. He recently drove past the construction site and said that it seemed a long way from being done.   Admittedly he is not a civil engineer nor a construction expert, but he was certainly wondering how Hayward might be ready for the Prefontaine Classic to be run this coming May.  Of course they have a good 18 months to be ready for the 2021 World Championships.  Since we are not experts, we'll give the builders and financers the benefit of the doubt---FOR NOW!

It just got me remembering how  many times we've seen professional sports teams literally hold up a community with threats of moving if the community didn't give a huge tax break or pay for a new stadium to get a pro team to come to town.  The Mike Brown family held up the gullible folks of Hamilton County Ohio to keep the Cincinnati Bengals in place and give the Brown Family a new Paul Brown Stadium.  Plenty of other communities had the same experience.  First the dream merchants come up with some drawings of a modern stadium, with private boxes that rival a honeymoon suite at the Waldorf Astoria.   They tell the public that it will all be financed by private investment, maybe and perhaps a wee bit of a tax break. Some local corporation or Healthcare Network will throw in a few dollars to have their name on the wall.   Then half way through construction, the nabobs and glad handers start whining about unexpected rises in cost to construct and we're gonna need a bailout to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to complete the project and could we just float a little tax levy to cover the shortfall?  Hell we can cut back on school lunches or housing for the elderly, we're gonna have our  "Beer and Circus"   and eight  Sundays every fall we'll have a game and maybe even a winner and a Super Bowl trophy.  And the voters go crazy and vote to give up some valuable public service in order to have a few overpaid heroes  do battle for them on the weekend.  In 1973 in Montreal, Mayor Jean Darpeau declared that it would be easier for a man to give birth than it would be to lose money on the 1976 Olympics.  That stadium today is basically a seldom used shell that is falling apart. Hell, they actually glued the sections together.  Some architect from France who had never experienced a Canadian winter decided that glue would work better than bolts and welded seams.   The 1976 Olympics lost a ton of money. The Montreal Expos are now playing in Washington D.C.  So it does not surprise me one iota when a story like the following comes out in the Oregonian today.   Here it is.  My comments regarding certain paragraphs are in bold type.   George

As any track and field athlete knows, progress comes in fits and starts and a big breakthrough can come at any time.  This is true.
Less than two years before the scheduled opening of the 2021 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, organizers and track fans are waiting for a breakthrough from Gov. Kate Brown. Organizers say they need $40 million from the state. Brown seems stuck at about $20 million.  Hey what do they need $40 million for now?  Didn't they have an agreement before they tore the place down and started construction on a new stadium?  Or did they have to spread a lot of untruths to get the project going? Forty Million is seriously off the estimate I assume.  
Since she attended the 2019 World Champions in Doha in September, Brown has been more vocal in her support. She’s promised to produce the full $40 million requested by the event’s organizers, said Paul Weinhold, executive director of the University of Oregon Foundation and chair of Oregon 21, the Eugene-based group organizing the event.
Okay, so it's the U of O Foundation behind all of this.  And what pray tell did Gov. Kate Brown get in Doha to now aspire to go for another $40 million at the risk of her political career?
Newly obtained documents show just how difficult and delicate a task Brown faces: Skeptical lawmakers, a demanding international governing body and a local organizing committee desperately reliant on the state. The hoped-for $40 million represents nearly half of the event’s total expected revenue.  
Wait, they expect $80 million in sales and they are currently $40 million short to even have the place ready?  Sounds like we're cutting things pretty thin here.  And does that mean we won't make a profit if that happens?     Ans.  No, No, George, It simply means that we need all the local yokels, even if they don't follow the sport to now pick up the tab.  The guy buying beer and cigarettes in Bend, OR is going to help finance the Championships.  And when you buy anything else in the state, you're going to get hit.  Oregonians aren't used to sales taxes on anything.  I live in British Columbia and five years ago I went to see the Pre and bought 15 gallons of paint to paint my house back home.  Because there was no sales tax on that paint, I saved enough money to pay my trip down including gas, hotel and food for three days.   So when it comes to asking Ducks to pay tax on something many of them will never see, I think there is going to be a little bit of political push back.  But I could be wrong.  I thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.  
“I am proud to have this historic event in Oregon and look forward to continuing our work together,” Brown said in an April 25 letter to Jon Ridgeon, the international federation’s chief executive. She added, “in 2020, I will work to pass legislation to provide additional funding needed.”   Gov. Brown may be racking up a bit of overtime on this one.  I too will be happy to see a World Championship in the US, but I have serious concerns about destroying historic venues for the opportunity to make a few bucks.  Shitty track, but if the Penn Relays can pack in a  good crowd.............
Brown’s spokesman Charles Boyle added, “This is a significant marketing and tourism opportunity to showcase our state and Oregon businesses, and we are working with stakeholders and legislators to identify outstanding needs and make sure they are funded by March of 2020. “  Hey,  Dufus,  your outstanding needs are Education, Health Care, and getting re-elected.  There is going to have to be some serious slight of hand to get this done.  
The other good news for Oregon 21 is that the University of Oregon Foundation has agreed to serve as financial backstop to the event. The international governing body of the sport typically requires a local government or some other deep-pocketed entity to guarantee the event’s financial performance.  Key phrase   "deep-pocketed entitiy". NIKE!!!!!   We need to work on image a bit here since the NOP affair went up in smoke.  Forget the track meet, maybe we can support public education and critical thinking.  Sorry folks, in a country where more than half the population cannot name the three branches of government......we need to do something about education.
Weinhold confirmed his board had settled on the agreement, adding “the foundation has the guarantee in place.”   This I think means,  "The old fixeroo is in".   Hey who is on this U of O Foundation governing board?
That marks a confounding change in direction for the foundation. Last year, it withdrew as the financial guarantor, to the great alarm of the international federation. Now it’s back in. Weinhold declined to explain the foundation’s change of heart.  "Change of Heart?"  Hell have we got a heart?  We need this show to go on and if it means we gotta buy the Oregon legislature to get a tax levy or the equivalent in place, well by golly that's what we're here for.
Still, plenty of hurdles remain.  There's  the 100 HH, 110 HH, 400IH x 2, and the Steeple x 2,  that's a lot of hurdles.  
Organizers and state officials also must fix a tax issue. Under United States’ and Oregon law, the $7.2 million in winnings for athletes is taxable at both the state and federal level. In the past, local governments have simply forgiven the tax. But for that to happen, the athlete prizes would have to increase sufficiently to cover the tax or the Oregon legislature would have to act to make the athletes exempt.
Not quite sure how this works. Your gonna give the athletes more money and make them exempt?  How does this bring more money into public coffers to pay for the Championships?  Oh yeah and lets not forget about that federal grab for the brass ring.
And the Oregon Legislature can’t do anything about the federal tax.  You can always secede from the Union or elect a senator who will create legislation to eliminate all federal tax.  In these times that person might find a lot of agreeable followers.  isn't Oregon noted for its poiitical mavericks?
The Eugene championships would be the first staged in the U.S., so there’s no precedent in solving the problem.  The '84 Olympics in L.A. may have been the exception to the rule in making a profit, but Track doesn't have beach volleyball to sell to the TV watching audience.  
Organizers will also have to go to the legislature to solve another potential issue: The transient lodging tax increase that Brown is relying upon to raise a significant portion of the state’s contribution to the event sunsets next July.  How do you make millions on a transient lodging tax during a 7 or 8 day event when there are so few hotels in Eugene?  And  most of those rooms will go to IOC wonks, heads of 100 national federations and their entourages and the teams.  And those people usually don't expect to pay bills for lodging.  They feel it is owed to them.
The prospect of staging the World Championships in Eugene is thrilling to many American track fans. The town is much revered by athletes, who love the educated fans who pack the stands.  But  but , but, Hayward fugging Field ain't there no more!!
But this is an event normally held in London, Paris and Beijing, world capitals that can easily handle the flood of tourists. In Eugene, lodging, transportation and a host of other logistical issues will be challenging.    Challenging?  I'd rather tackle Mt. Everest in a wheelchair without oxygen.  
Brown and others in Salem are confident that the Legislature will be supportive enough to give Brown what she needs. That is, unless Senate President Peter Courtney’s ongoing financial concerns gain traction with other lawmakers.  Courtney is the guy they should have sent to Doha.   See how the pros raise money out of a pile of sand.
Courtney predicted an enormous wave of additional financial demands as the event comes closer -- and afterwards.  Okay, who's gonna pick up all these Starbucks cups and rebuild Tracktown Pizza?
“It’ll be in the hundreds of millions of dollars before it’s over,” he said. “I’m telling you right now, we don’t know how much money they’re going to need and we have no idea where the money is coming from.”  Come on Mr. Courtney, it will be easier for a man to have a baby, than for Eugene and the state of Oregon to lose money on this venture.
Courtney added that he thinks Brown and the World Championships will carry the day, “I’ve lost,” he said. “The event is coming. I just want to know how big the tsunami is going to be.”  By the way, I've already picked out my tombstone and paid for it.
One thing organizers don’t anticipate is a problem with attendance. Even the newly enlarged Hayward Field should be packed.  Well, if we don't sell all the tickets, we learned in Doha how to pack the stands.  We'll have an illegal immigrant relocation center put in the javelin area.
But an event fan club, formed to connect with future ticket buyers, failed to meet projections. Organizers hoped to have 100,000 people signed up by the end of October. They didn’t get there and it’s unclear how close they got. It's a trade secret, and we ain't sayin'.
Weinhold, who chairs the organizing committee, said he did not know the number. He added that the 100,000 goal was ambitious and that he’s not troubled by the shortfall.
Shortfall, schmortfall, the Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl this year.  
“It is going to be a great thing,” Weinhold said. “We now have a strong team in place. It’s nice to have the government’s promise.”  Wait a minute.  Two things there.  That statement means you started with a weak team?  How did you get away with that for such an important event?  To me it just means that no one thinks long term when there is the promise of a potential gold rush.  It's always the guys that sold the picks and shovels who got rich and then left town.   And what is the value of any government's promise?   Better talk to the hedge fund boys.  

New story:   I really heard this  on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) radio today that there is an App called 'Cameo'.  On it you can hire a celebrity to record and deliver a message for a fee based on the level of the celebrity's  stardom.    Katelin Jenner will do one of these broadcasts for $2500.  People are using this App  to dump guy friends or girl friends, not necessarily with Katelin  .   Just letting you know if you need a message sent, I am open to discussion on my fee for this service.    George


 Geoff Pietsch said...
Not much to add to this devastating commentary on Eugene and Oregon, but I did want to comment on your initial basic point, which was:
"It just got me remembering how many times we've seen professional sports teams literally hold up a community with threats of moving if the community doesn't give a huge tax break or pay for a new stadium to get a pro team to come to town."

In this election season, I wish some candidate would make this an issue. Specifically that professional sports leagues essentially prevent cities from owning teams. Yes, Green Bay is an exception. It was grandfathered in. And clearly the franchise is thriving and will never move from that small city in the icy north to some Sun Belt, big money metropolis. It won't because it is a non-profit owned by over 360,000 stockholders, and no one can own more than roughly 4% of its shares. NFL rules require all other franchises to have a maximum of 32 owners and at least one must own 30%. As I understand it, almost a century ago the Supreme Court exempted Major League Baseball from anti-trust laws (surely a decision that could/should be overturned) and in the 1960s Congress exempted the NFL from anti-trust laws when it came to negotiating TV contracts.

Bill Schnier said"
  George, what a great piece on a typical money grab of the public from sports.  Here is what makes sense.  If a tax base pays for the stadium in part or in whole, they should reap the profits at that same rate.  For instance, in 2000 Hamilton County, Ohio spent $455 million to build Paul Brown Stadium.  The Bengals contributed $44 million and the taxpayers contributed $411 million.  The Bengals reaped all of the profits and the taxpayers none.  Two reasons for this successful holdup were:  (1) the team threatened to move and (2) the Hamilton Co. commissioner who spearheaded this deal did not run again but instead was hired by the Bengals.  This profit sharing would not work unless a federal law were enacted because one state would have profit sharing with the taxpayers and another would not meaning New York would have no NFL teams and Texas would have about 14.  Is the federal government up to that challenge?  Nope, so it will be business as usual in all states including Oregon.

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...