World Class Athletes, Amateurs In Charge: Tie Break Fiasco With the Womens 100m Qualifier

Posted: June 25, 2012 in ALL II
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I try not to speak for the group unless I am given full permission to say what is needed.  It saves me some unnecessary time arguing internally and generally makes it easier for people to find the person responsible for adding perspective to their lives.  But allow me to deviate and make a bold claim that you need to know given next month’s festivities: Five2pickup will not be a hot bed of London 2012 Summer Olympic coverage.  Hell, I can’t get approval from the boss man to write about the Tour de France (though I will be writing about Lance Armstrong).  The only time any of us will probably post about the Olympics is during scandal, amazing drama (i.e. Men’s basketball, tennis, or Usain Bolt), and…that’s all I could think of prior to yesterday.  Today, however, add amateur hour activities to the list of things that get these young fingers hammering away on the Olympics.

The United States of America Track and Field body apparently did not establish a system to address the potential for ties in qualifying races to make the Olympic team.  Sure, this is unlikely to happen because technology can show who wins during tight finishes so why have a policy!?  Well, the day has arrived.  Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh both finished 3rd in the women’s 100 meter race with the third place spot being the final spot on the Olympic roster for next month’s games in London.  11.068 seconds.  How do we break the tie?  Uhh…we have no tie breaker.

That is the stunning part to the entire story.  How in the hell is there no tie breaker which seems to be a very simple thing to expect and have a policy to address.  Just take the two racers and have another race at some time and location agreed upon by both racers!  I am certainly not paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in a sport plagued with allegations of incompetence and cheating (all things that seem to be a growing trademark of amateur athletics in America), but there is no reasonable way that this can’t be on the books.  Doing a short bit of research on Yahoo! (screw Google) let me to tie breaks in swimming: a swim off between all tied competitors.  I quickly found procedures to settle ties in…track: a race between all tied competitors.  There were also several other convoluted solutions for settling ties that seemed hopelessly unfair but at least they had policies.  Perhaps I am too harsh to expect everything but I am sure the adults in the room will figure it out.

*Some seven hours later*

USATF decided to give monkeys darts, spin a wheel, have the monkeys throw darts at a board, and whatever they hit determined the tie break.  Maybe that is an exaggeration but that’s pretty darn close to what the adults came up with.  Tie break policy: the two competitors will separately be given, it appears, three options to settle the tie: 1) Decline to make a decision, 2) runoff, and 3) coin flip.  Really?  A coin flip?  I trained for most of my life to get into the Olympics, obviously am good enough to compete with the person I tied, and am a prideful athlete so I will turn to the flip of a coin for a resolution in this dispute?  The option is insulting and absurd.  That is not even the end of it.

Back in 2000: “Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore welcome to our session to settle the close electoral dispute in Florida.  Mr. Bush, as your party was out of the Presidency last, you are considered the guest…call it in the air.  The American Flag is heads, the Eagle is tails.”

If both athletes choose runoff, we get a runoff.  Both athletes choose coin toss (an egregious decision), we get a coin toss.  If one picks runoff and the other picks coin toss, we get a runoff.  If both flip the USATF off and select no preference, we get a coin flip.  If one declines preference and the other chooses either runoff or coin flip…there is no policy on record to deal with that scenario because…well who the hell knows!  Let me add that this tie break policy is WAY TOO fluid.  There should be one policy.  That’s it.  It should go into effect when a tie happens.  That’s it.  What is with the pick your own adventure B.S.?

Let me also add that Tarmoh and Felix are also competing in the 200 meter race this upcoming Saturday.  Training for that race is significantly different, and Felix is favored to win the event overall.  USATF wants to have their teams selected and ready by Sunday…the day after the 200 meter race.  All of this screams of terrible planning, worse response, and just the right type of story needed to shift America’s collective attention to the Olympics.

On the heels of our celebration of Title IX, it didn’t take long for someone to combine the place of women’s sports in America with the piss poor solution to this fairly simple problem.  American sprinter Justin Gatlin provided the apt suggestion: “I’m voting for Jell-O wrestling match…red Jell-O. That’s my favorite.”  Yep, that comment about sums it up for me.  People not taking the competition or the athletes seriously opening up the USATF up to criticism that it deserves and off color jokes that reveal, mostly male, thoughts on females in sports.

Amateurism indeed.



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