Start List/Liste de Départ: Meet the new boss…

…not the same as the old boss. The Quebec Athletics Federation has named a new DG (that’s Directeur-Général, or General Manager for anglos), a man who has been around the scene for a while, but not so directly implicated. Welcome Laurent Godbout.

I have to say this looks like a good thing. Laurent is a genuine guy, a big fan of the sport, and he seems to understand what it takes to succeed, in business and in sport. He’s been a long-time face of track and field on Radio-Canada, and so many people are hoping, perhaps, that this nomination will vault our sport into the media spotlight.

Not likely, and that has nothing to do with the new man. The fact that the press release went out two weeks ago and only now is the news surfacing in the usual places, well, that’s interesting. Maybe it shows that track and field is really a grass-roots sport in the sense that all the important stuff happens in person, at the meets, at training. Maybe we are barking up the wrong tree hoping this new guy will make our sport popular in the media.

He knows it, too, if you read his introductory address on the FAQ website, he clearly states: “I’m no saviour.” Fair enough. But what he will bring is a literacy in communications that was sorely lacking in the Federation before. That’s not meant to be a direct criticism of the old regime, (a bit dramatic to call it that, but still), as it was really just a time for a change, and sometimes (often) you can’t get people to change, so you have to change people. How high we set our sights is another question. The visibility of our sport has certainly increased recently as more and younger people decide to implicate themselves in building the sport. Let’s keep that going.

While Laurent will bring an expertise in communications, certainly, what we hope he will also bring is an athlete-centered focus. We hope that he will send out the message, repeatedly, tirelessly, that everyone who works for the federation, coaches, officials, volunteers, office staff, administrators, everyone: their job is to allow athletes to compete at their best. When you decide to dedicate your life (or even just part of it) to sport, you have to be selfless, egoless, and keep in mind the mandate of the organisation is to serve the athletes.

Here’s the mission statement, by the way: “La Fédération québécoise d’athlétisme a pour mission la promotion de la pratique de l’athlétisme selon ses composantes, soit; l’initiation, la récréation, la compétition et l’excellence, ainsi que le développement et l’épanouissement de l’athlète.”

I’m even a little disappointed that athlete gets second billing over the abstract concept of the sport itself, as, really, the athletes ARE the sport. But hopefully Laurent sees this too, and he uses his new position to promote what’s best for the athletes. We need open doors, easy access, less bureaucracy, lower barriers to entry…it all comes down to the same idea: make it as easy as possible for athletes to do what they love. Laurent makes a great case for promoting athletics in school on the radio here.

If the only reason a cross country race is 4k not 5k is because the organizer doesn’t want to go out to the course the night before and put down mats–that’s not athlete centered. If the meet is delayed for hours because officials have split runners into heats of 3 runners, when all could be run together–that’s not athlete centered. If the distance of a track race is changed from 5000m to 3000m at the start line because someone wants to go home early–that’s not athlete centered.

When people are talking about the performances of the athletes and not the organization of the meet: that’s athlete centered. When people are excited about how many people were in the race: that’s athlete centered. When people from different clubs and schools compete only on the track, and encourage and support each other off it: that’s athlete centered.

Here’s hoping the new guy gets this.

A few other links: Kids, don’t do drugs. And by that, Trimes means, know the list, don’t take the wrong cold medicine.

Toning shoes a scam. No way, I never would have guessed. Good job Rebook. I’m not sure who are the bigger idiots: Rebook for pulling the scam, or the schmoes who bought those shoes.

More good advice from Lauren Fleshman. Get your wheel in order.

Looks like Trevor Caldwell is pulling out of STWM (he’s not as equivocal as Bairu, but it doesn’t look good). His training partner Joe Campinelli is in.