O Log - Irate

[05-Sep-03] 

    I've been wondering what to write lately until something came over the wire that really boiled my blood. It is tough to be objective when something may directly effect you that you don't like, and seems unfair, but it helps to write and think it thru.

    Anyway, a proposal on the clubnet to change the relay rules includes the following (of course, this is a proposal, many proposals get nowhere; hopefully this meets that fate also) --

    (1) Giving a point to 35 year olds is too generous, given the number of US
        Team members who are 35 or older. I have made 40 the minimum age for a
        point.
    

    This of course would take my point away. Points are valuable in the current USOF relay scheme.

    The first thing that struck me about this was that I was being told I was an elite in a relay, yet I'm not an elite when determining which course my championship is contested on (it would still be on red, while elites ran blue). I guess this is a personal thing, but I spent tons of energy fighting a battle that the proper course for M35 based on international standards was the thing that USOF calls blue, and I was ignored. Yes, this is a personal thing, but if we are now to be called elites, I want to contest my group's championship on the elite course.

    Secondly, and I think more importantly, the premise isn't accurate or doesn't make sense. Looking at the 2003 standing team (and I assume that is what "US Team" refers to, there are 18 men and 18 women. While it is true that a fair number of them are 35+, only 1 man and 3 women (by my fairly educated count) are actually 35-39 (and 3 of these 4 are on the "C" teams). Most of the seniors are actually 40 and over! So the premise is wrong, or if it is taken to have meaning, the loss of point should apply to those over 40 as well (and some of the women are actually 45+! -- tells me the data and the meaning of being on the team is not so relevant to the argument, again meaning you can't draw from it).

    Thirdly, if we are so good that we are running with the 21 year olds, why should we be penalized? We have a biological handicap called aging that there is nothing we can do about. The fact that we over achieve relative to the M21's, or they under achieve relative to this biological constraint should not be a grounds for penalization for us. When I was doing research on the course/class committee, I recall a 1% dropoff per year in physical prowess for men in the 10K distance, onset at about 34-36yrs. Women were similar. Biological science that we have to live with and work harder to overcome. If we performed worse (i.e., didn't make the team), we would not be penalized by the rational above. This rankles me -- tho I'm not sure if there is rational cause for the rankling. I've worked really hard to be a decent competitor with that point, and I look forward to the relay champs. It just doesn't feel right. (I think the thing to look at in detail is how, in large European races, the 35s do vs the 21s. I know when I run elite outside the States, I place lower in the field than in the USOF elite field. That says the USOF elite field is weaker, not that the 35s are so good in an absolute sense (but also these races typically have 21A and B classes, so the non-elite 21s aren't there, unlike the States. I don't have enough info here).

    Fourthly, would in effect destroy our championship team, by rule. While Hunter may not be eligible next year by the normal aging rules (I'm not sure), it just seems totally wrong to be declared ineligible from one year to the next like this out of the blue. They'd find someone to replace me, but it wouldn't feel right. I'd like to make or not make the team based on results, and looked forward to trying to have good enough results to be on the team next year and be able to defend. This would seem to arbitrarily ruin a dream and something I work fairly hard for. Fortunately I have a championship and would certainly be willing to give others in the club a go at it, but this should be decided in the forest. Also, there has been some discussion as to the quality of the last map, and while no one (that I know of) as insinuated that our championship is tainted, I really wanted to win another one on a map that no one had complaints about.

    I think the relay is something that seniors on the margin can really find incentive to work for. Now we would be the same as 21 year olds but not as fast. Where is the incentive? Obviously we would never be the single 0 pointer you typically get to have on a team, so we would be relegated to running anchor for the C team in the third mass start. Some incentive to train your butt off and travel to the race and all that jazz.

    There was also a premise in the proposal that since USOF had been using this relay scheme for 12 years with a format that people liked, it was time to codify it. But this proposal changes the format without the benefit of testing if it is a good change over the 12 years. There is a term for this from the logic/critical thinking field, but I can't remember it. Obviously, those who are not affected (or perhaps benefit) will not see this as a big deal. I'll shut up now.

    Well, I feel better. I wish this didn't affect me so I could be more objective about it, but if it didn't, perhaps I wouldn't even notice.

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