October 24, 2008 by · 1 Comment
The post-collegiate running team, Team XO has recently announced it is ceasing operations due to lack of sponsorships, the latest evidence that in the U.S. track and field is in financial decay.
One of Team XO’s founders Ross Kremply took to his personal blog on Runnerspace to deliver the dreaded news saying:
“As all of you know, Team XO has been very hard to maintain over the past 6 years. And to be honest, the team would have folded years ago without the support and energy from you guys and the community.”
“The business model for XO was based on a small team that was easy to manage and relatively cheap to run,” he wrote. “But as the years passed by, the team kept increasing while the budget stayed the same.”
Krempley however did indicate that he would keep the Team XO organization intact for the high school meet, which is held in conjunction with the Oregon Relays. However, all other aspects of the team are being shut down, such as entry fees, uniforms and travel expenses.
In previous seasons, the Eugene, Oregon-based team got by on a bare bones $15,000 annual budget and over the years Krempley watched the budget remain the same while the expenses soared in light of the team’s growing roster.
Hip hop poet Sean “Diddy” Combs said it best: “It’s all about the benjamins baby.”
A post-collegiate team is compromised of high-caliber runners that continue running without the all-important shoe contract that many of the biggest names in track such as Sanya Richards, Walter Dix, and Bianca Knight have in order to train and compete.
Runners without a shoe contract are forced to go at it alone to raise funds for training costs, which include: living expenses, health insurance, personal trainers, coaching, travel, and equipment.
A gaping hole now exists in the sport in the absence of Team XO. Sure, it comes to no surprise to those around pro track that the organization will not go on but its demise is sad and a sign of sports health.
One of the critical issues facing the sport today is that of cultivating athletes in order to produce athletes at international championship level meets. Countless stories exist of athletes quitting the sport due to financial turmoil and frankly that has to become a thing of the past.
The writing is on the wall. The 2008 Beijing Games served as final notice to those in denial that business as usual is over for the U.S. in terms of dominating while spending relatively little on the sport’s infrastructure.
The sports leadership had better be worried that Team XO for the most part is shutting down their operations, as the organization put forth six provisional qualifiers at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene last summer.
The demise of Team XO further underscores the need of track and field to develop a comprehensive plan to maintain its existing base while growing the sport in this country.
A nation without a mechanism to develop talent is the sign of national athletic program on the decline.
Jay Hicks for Prerace Jitters.