Allen Johnson announced his retirement on Saturday, said goodbye to a professional track career that seems the stuff of sports fiction.
“It’s just come to the point where my body can’t take it anymore,” said Johnson in a trackside interview.
“Maybe I can coach some hurdlers or some sprinters… give something back. I’m going to miss it, I really am, but it was fun,” added the former World and Olympic 110 meter hurdles champion.
One of the interesting things about his career is the University of Carolina graduate never won an individual NCAA title during his time at Chapel Hill but he quickly became a star as professional.
On Saturday, one of the unique chapters in professional track and field history closed when Allen, 39, announced his retirement after winning Olympic gold in Atlanta, and turned in countless outstanding performances.
He finishes with four World Outdoor Titles, three World Indoor Titles, finished the seasoned ranked number one four times, and one of greatest performances ever with a personal best of 12.92 seconds just .02 shy of the current American Record - is among the best in track history.
Few have been so good, for so long. In 2005, Johnson earned a bronze at the World Outdoor Championships at the age of 34. Johnson has run under 13 seconds more than an hurdler in history - nine times.
Allen showed grace even in defeat. I am him picking himself after falling in the early rounds of the 2004 Athen Games preventing him from competing for a second Olympic gold medal.
Allen never was one for attention. Yet he’s getting it now.
American record holder David Oliver said on his Twitter account, “Just talked to Allen Johnson, sad to see him call it a career and retire, a real genuine dude…”
“Allen Johnson is an inspiration for competition as lifelong pursuit. He embodies all the qualities you could ask for from a champion. Above all, he conducted himself with class, on and off the track”, said Doug Logan CEO of USA Track and Field.
“He won and lost with dignity, although clearly he won more than he lost. Allen set the standard for hurdling at the World and Olympic level and has inspired a generation of hurdlers, from the U.S. to Cuba to China, who continue to chase his achievements. That chase will continue for years to come.”
Lolo Jones once said, “”In track and field I most admire Allen because I have watched him growing up. I remember Allen, specifically, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. I remember how he carried himself on TV and how he represented himself and his country was amazing.”
While Friday marked a bookend to Johnson’s career, to really appreciate his story you have to have met the man only once. He is widely known in track circles for mentoring young athletes on how to make it in the track game and befriending competitors. I’ve seen few hearts as big and as humble an athlete as Johnson.
The dashing, dazzling runs may be gone but Johnson’s contributions to this sport will never be forgotten.
November 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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 4×100-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.
October 14, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
The media highlighted the teams baton drops in the men’s and women’s 4×100-meter relay. Last week the organization saw longtime coach Brooks Johnson resign as head of USATF’s High Performance Chair.
Then again with all things considered the 2008 Team had some good moments such as the come from behind victory in the women’s 1,600-meter relay, the 1-2-3 sweep of the men’s 400-meter hurdles, and Bryan Clay’s dominating decathlon victory.
CEO Doug Logan recently announced on his blog “shin splints” the members of the USATF High Performance Panel, which is charged with a top to bottom examination of the federation’s high-performance programs by January 12, 2009. The sports chief has promised to publish the report on the USATF website.
The Panel will be composed of Olympic gold medalists Carl Lewis and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, who also has been a sports administrator; 1992 Olympic men’s coach and USTCCCA Hall of Fame coach Mel Rosen; renowned physiologist and Olympic silver medalist Ralph Mann; and USOC executives Doug Ingram, Steve Roush and Jay Warwick, all of whom have been successful athletes or coaches as well as NGB administrators.
Jay Hicks for Prerace Jitters.
August 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Logan is making a great first impression. In past, there have been inquiries (this blog included) about where the Olympic selection process fields the best possible team. The past answers have been “we have done it this way in the past and it has worked.”
Well that is no longer the attitude. Here is what Logan had to say late last night.
reality have collided for Team USA.
The perception is that we’ve managed to muck up several key events. Some people have taken that “key event letdown” and applied it, somewhat unfairly, to the entire team.
The reality is that, at the close of competition Thursday night, we had 20 medals, which was
exactly twice that of the second-best team. We are likely to match our medal
total from the 1996 Olympics Games - one that was considered a huge success for
Team USA - and far exceed that of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Our women, in
particular, have done extremely well. They already have won eight medals, which
more than they won in all of ‘96 (seven), 2000 (four) and 2004 (six).
But we won’t have nearly as many gold medals as we’ve won the last two
World Championships, and gold is what gets it done.
The other reality is, we could win the gold medal in every single track and field event, but if we
don’t win a single thing in the sprints and relays, the public will view our performance as a disaster. When we drop the baton in back-to-back relay races, the public views our performance as a disaster.
The Olympics are about good timing, good luck, good preparation and good execution. All those things have to come together. There is no denying we have had more than our share of
bad luck. Several medal-contending athletes got hurt at or right before these
Games, but they’re not the only ones. Think Liu Xiang, Susanna Kallur and Paula
Radcliffe. The public sometimes sees these things and sees only failure, rather
than the nature of the Games.
In the men’s and women’s 200, I’m not sure there was any stopping the Jamaican juggernaut, at least not when it comes to gold medals. Nobody from any country was going to beat 9.69 and 19.30. The women’s 200 was won in the fastest time this century.
The relays and the overall perception of our weak points are another matter.
I have received emails from people across the country, particularly about the relays.
They all say more or less the same thing: the dropped batons were reflective of
a lack of preparation, lack of professionalism, and of leadership. I agree.
Dropping a baton isn’t bad luck, it’s bad execution. Responsibility for the
relay debacle lies with many people and many groups, from administration to
coaches to athletes. That’s why, when these Games are completed, we will conduct
a comprehensive review of all our programs. It will include assessments from
inside and outside the USATF family, and included in the assessment will be the
way in which we select, train and coach our relays.
Ultimately, the athletes on the track are the only ones who can successfully pass the stick
around the track. But they need the proper leadership and preparation. These are
professional athletes who are the best in their field, and anybody who ever ran
a high school relay cringes when that baton hits the track. It reminds me of NBA
players who have horrendous free-throw percentages. All it takes is repetition,
preparation and focus to make a free throw. The same goes for baton-passing. As
an organization, we owe it to our athletes to provide the preparation they need
to succeed. We will do everything we can to figure out what went wrong and to
make sure it doesn’t happen again.
In the next three days, I will watch the remainder of track competition as a fan and as the person responsible for leading the programs that produce the World’s #1 Track & Field Team.
terms of medal count. We can be a much better team. And we will be.”
Doug Logan is CEO of USA Track & Field. To read more of his Shin Splints blogs, click here.
July 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
The situation couldn’t be more volatile in track and field today. It’s an exciting, treacherous, and cynical time in U.S. Track and Field, as newly anointed CEO Doug Logan takes the reins of the national governing body.
In his first teleconference on Friday with the press as CEO of USA Track and Field (USATF), Doug came off as approachable and open to the challenges facing him as the organization’s new leader.
In his office, he keeps a picture of himself in a clown suit that was taken nearly twenty years ago to remind him never to take himself too seriously. That sense of humor may come in handy, as the former Commissioner of Major League Soccer gets the lay of the land and develops a plan to address track’s nearly countless areas that need attention.
His experience and business acumen is the reason the USATF Board of Directors believe he is the answer to the organization’s issues and the answer to the sports prayers.
The first 100 days will set the tone of his tenure at the organization. Managing USA Track & Field is no task for an inexperienced executive, as the organization oversees more activities than any of the other national governing bodies, such as swimming and gymnastics. Currently, USA Track & Field oversees youth running, elite running, trail running, road running, and race walking.
“In the first 30 to 60 days, I’m going to be a huge sponge. I will talk to fans, coaches, athletes, officials, members of the press and sponsors - everybody involved in the sport at one level or another,” said Logan. “It would be a disservice for me to jump in and be presumptuous that I have answers before I undergo that process.”
The honeymoon period for Logan will more than likely be extremely short with the Olympics only three weeks away. He will have get up to speed quickly, as his new role at CEO of USATF will require him to meet with the leaders of international track organizations.
Regarding the pending Olympics, Logan stated, “I think we’ve got a great team, and I look forward to that competition and supporting our team in the best way we know how. Beyond that, we’ve got a wonderful Olympic Team that I hope to be joining early in the process in Beijing, and hopefully, we will come out of that competition with a number of medals greater or equal to what we’ve had in the past.”
There are complex issues facing USA Track & Field such as the sport’s doping issue, the board reorganization, and of course, how to grow the sport to soccer moms across America.
“We’ve got a reorganization going on and a series of meetings. I’d like to offer whatever resources I’ve got to those organizational efforts,” said Logan. “I’ve got other stuff to do. I’ve got a very able staff that Craig [Masback] put together to sit down with and talk to, let them know what doing business with me is all about, and what being my colleague is all about.”
Logan seems unwilling to get caught up in the frenzy coming off the Olympic Trials and the energy leading up to the Olympic Games. He seems to have a sense that all of the momentum will probably not carry over to next year.
By Jay Hicks.
July 18, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Logan most recently has run Empresario, LLC of New York, a sports consulting and entrepreneurial firm that in 2001 was a consultant in the creation of the National Rugby League since leaving the MLS.
After three months of an executive search and much consternation from the track and field community, a decision has finally been made. Craig Masback abruptly left USA Track and Field in January for new endeavors with Nike as Director of Global Sports Marketing Division, leaving the organization in a lurch just eight months before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Masback is credited with holding the organization together through arguably the sport’s toughest days during the doping era that brought down some of the biggest names at the time such as Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, and Justin Gatlin.
Who is Doug Logan, you ask, the man charged with saving the sport from the brink of irrelevance?
For the last twenty years, Logan has been highly respected in sports circles as a very capable leader with extensive experience in the sports management game. He is considered the country’s highest-ranking Hispanic American in sports management. By selecting Logan, the USATF Board gets an executive who is well known—a key factor in the relationship-driven world of sports marketing.
Although track and field is a sport, it is also a business, and Logan’s selection reinforces the governing bodies desire for a new business strategy. He transformed Major League Soccer’s television contracts from a time-buy to co-ventures, negotiating five-year broadcasting agreements with ABC, ESPN and Univision that more than doubled the number of national MLS games on the air. During his tenure MLS assets soared from $5 million per team to $20 million per team.
“We have said since we started the process of hiring a new CEO that it was more important to do it right than to do it quickly,” USATF President Bill Roe said. “In Doug Logan, we know we have found the right CEO to take us into the next phase of growth. We are so pleased to get a person of his caliber to lead our organization, and we are excited to welcome him to the USATF family.”
Logan is a bilingual sports and entertainment leader with a proven track record of generating long-term sponsor partnerships, television outreach and high fan attendance. In 1996, Sports Business Daily named Logan and MLS Sports Industrialist of the Year.
The MLS under Logan’s leadership generated $120 million in multiple-year sponsorship commitments from Nike, AT&T, adidas, Puma, Umbro, Honda, MasterCard, PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch and Bic.
The news of Logan’s hiring comes as a relief to many who were concerned about going into the Olympic Games without new leadership in place.
In its 29-year history, USA Track and Field has not had a CEO with such an extensive background in developing sponsorships, partnerships, and television deals. At first glance, Logan appears to be an ideal fit for the organization. He may be just what the doctor ordered for the sport.
USATF Board members also picked a seasoned businessman in Logan, who has experience in one of the most persistent challenges facing the sport – how, if at all, to deliver a user-friendly sport to the fan, while growing revenues and exposure in the United States.
“I believe the sport is poised for a major leap of growth,” Logan said. “It may seem presumptuous for me to express goals at this early juncture. However, I will devote my energies to maintaining and improving the U.S. position at the top of the medal charts in World Championships and Olympic Games, and I will be a passionate messenger in our battle against Performance Enhancing Drugs.”
The first hurdle he will face as the new CEO is the pressing matter of dealing with the USOC’s demands to restructure of the USATF Board of Directors.
In Logan, the sport has an executive who has managed and grown another niche sport in Major League Soccer to the next level. He has been in the board rooms before and sealed some major deals.
That is what you get in Doug Logan.
By Jay Hicks.