Thursday, June 21, 2007

Miss Manners Hacks USATF Website?

Obviously Miss Manners has hacked the USATF's National Championships website. What other reason could explain the link I found to an absolutely useless page titled Professionalism? When I saw that link while perusing the Athlete Information page, I clicked on it, expecting to find a codified 232-page manual along the lines of the IAAF Competition Rules, one that covers competition rules, doping, eligibility, and the like. Instead, I found a skimpy, persnickety, useless exercise in overstating the obvious.

It offers a handful of school-marmy tips intended to, "help raise the bar of professional demeanor, attitude, and interaction before, during, and after events." There's no mention of doping, tampering with lab tests, making false starts, or running outside of one's assigned lane like one would expect to find in an overview of professionalism; rather, Miss Manners exhorts athletes to "wear [bibs] in the best place to preserve your uniform's sponsor marks and team name, " and to "thank the sponsors who enable the event to take place." If you haven't read it yet, go ahead and click here. It's mind-boggling.

By far, the most patronizing edict can be found in the "compete like a professional" section. In it, the athletes are berated for having the audacity to worry about their times or marks (isn't that a fundamental aspect of being a track and field athlete?):

"The statistics/results of the competition will be available after the event. It is inappropriate for you to worry about your time at the finish line or your marks from each round in the field. Distance athletes: it looks particularly bad when you stop your watch at the finish--blocking your bib with the sponsor's name on it and the name of your team or country."

Of course! Checking one's Timex for a possible new world record is rude and impertinent! We're selling long-distance service, poultry products and chocolate bars here. How dare an athlete who has just performed a heroic act of extending the limits of human potential insult the sponsor by checking his or her time!

Are you as worried as I am, knowing that "the future of our sport" depends on our athletes' "being [models] for professional manners?" I'm not sure what might have given me this impression, but I thought that the future of our sport depended, not upon the athletes' blocking the sponsors name on their bibs during post-race interviews, but upon greedy athletes not causing the great sport of track and field any further embarrassment, humiliation or irreparable harm by being suspended for doping violations. I stand corrected.

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