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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Time for change

Time for change

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1 Time for change on Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:03 am

Big Forest


I realise many of you will groan when you see yet another post on the issue of the flaws and failings of the current system and practice’s, however I have been reading recent posts with a growing sense of alarm and for some time have been sick of the state of what should be a great sport, so want to have my say.

I would like to identify myself, but I have a few races left in me and in such an environment largely created or at least maintained by people on this forum, I would be foolish to divulge it.

I was flabbergasted, that a person in a key governance position didn't realise or care that they should not (ever) be on such a forum and certainly not behave on it in the way that has occurred. I’m sorry to say this, because I know hearts are in the right place, but arrogance has got the upper hand; there is no value remaining in a state of denial; please do away with the charade, evasive tactics etc. man up, find yourself, be a responsible governor and lead the overhaul that the handicapping system and process desperately needs.   Yes, nice apology, but I am a cynic; there is no way, unless as another tactic, that it was initiated by you.  It was however, just in time and will no doubt stand you in good stead and get some sympathy votes; not from me I'm afraid; a leopard does not change its spots.

You have a tough job, no doubt about that, but the constant criticism and pressure have turned you into a man desperate to protect yourself. You are prepared to belittle others and use any mechanism you can to deflect from your own and the systems failings and inadequacies. There is simply no place for such bombastic, arrogant behaviour for an official of this sport. The fact that you were exposing it on a public forum was madness.  

From my own personal point of view and as a more general broadside, I have to share the love; some of the tactics used on this forum to evade the truth are as good as on the track. From time to time someone makes a point and I feel for them, as invariably pathetic treatment is dished out. The handicapping system flaws and stewarding and handicapping subjectivity is a very serious issue, and people concerned enough to spend time and effort attempting to highlight issues should be respected and the items they address responded to seriously and courteously.    

I have been defending pro running for years because I love the concept. Plenty of kids, who of course are the future of our sport would simply not be not be running without it. In its pure form it's character building, helps athletes and parents realise that talent alone won't get you over the line; tremendously exciting and  through athletic levelling, provides a unique environment where you rub shoulders with athletes and people you normally wouldn't; great for everyone.  

Seeing some kid who's been plugging away getting smashed by the elite athletes week in week out at little aths who comes through from a fair handicap – (WOW how good was the Ballarat Gift Dash for Cash handicapping -  re-handicapped from heat to semi to final) and busts their guts to get the job done, is a life changing moment. !  

But it's very tiring defending our sport when the knockers have so much ammo; you would all be better off putting your smart witty minds to work and agitate for change to fix the current system.

To the system: Management 101 is to make sure the organisation, mission, vision and objectives; make sense, are relevant, motivate and market. The problem with pro running starts from the disconnect between the objective for athletes to “compete regularly, consistently and to the best of their ability”  and reality.  No one in their right mind who hopes to win a big race, is going to run to the best of their ability at a minor gift, so the choices are either to run dead (ie cheat and violate one key aim or not run and violate the other). Essentially this is what makes pro running a joke in the eyes of many. The fact that VAL have allowed this glaring anomaly to remain at the very top of the VAL modus operandi is a sad indictment of the organisation.  The current system is just not set up to avoid the 90-95% of the 90-95% of athletes who are prepared to run dead to get a tick and who can blame them.

Numerous posts, articles and formal submissions to change the system to make it objective, fair and equitable have fallen on deaf ears and an over reactive, subjective effort to police, scare and bully athletes into line has resulted with plenty of friendly fire as well. People can carry on about a 'chat' not being bullying, but I add my weight to the notion that we should not be stuck in the 50's approach to discipline. The absolute towelling handed out to a young athlete I know, was, apart from being dead wrong (not that I blame them for that), an absolute disgrace. Such a shame too that the flawed system has led to the Jeckle and Hyde syndrome to occur for them. This approach needs to change or sooner or later someone who decides the abuse is not worth sucking up in the hope that they won’t be unfairly treated for future handicapping, will haul them before the courts.  There is absolutely no reason why the steward/handicapper couldn't call an athlete in and simply state in a non - confrontational / aggressive / accusatory manner, that "I’m sorry X, but our expectation for you today based on your run rate at x meet(s) was X. It was X, so unfortunately you are due to  receive a NAP / UP / pull / fine / disqualification on this occasion. Is there any reason for your poorer than expected run ?, or feel free to put it in writing by 9.00am tomorrow and it will be considered."  If they are unable to change their aggressive, bullying behaviour, I can provide them with a series of template texts that they can sms to athletes.

Back to the system; far smarter people than me have contributed to the existing system and suggested improvements over many years which has made little positive change. I have some thoughts and will provide them if a review is commissioned. If this does not occur soon, the VAL will implode.


VRTA; presuming someone from the association is across these posts; how about requesting all athletes to provide their views on the current state of our sport via a survey and how it can be improved.?  You could then compile this; publish it and present it to the Board as the basis for review. There are plenty or organisations skilled in this kind of exercise, and no doubt a handful of athletes have contacts who would be happy to assist.

2 Re: Time for change on Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:49 pm

Downesy


Big Forest wrote:I realise many of you will groan when you see yet another post on the issue of the flaws and failings of the current system and practice’s, however I have been reading recent posts with a growing sense of alarm and for some time have been sick of the state of what should be a great sport, so want to have my say.

I would like to identify myself, but I have a few races left in me and in such an environment largely created or at least maintained by people on this forum, I would be foolish to divulge it.

I was flabbergasted, that a person in a key governance position didn't realise or care that they should not (ever) be on such a forum and certainly not behave on it in the way that has occurred. I’m sorry to say this, because I know hearts are in the right place, but arrogance has got the upper hand; there is no value remaining in a state of denial; please do away with the charade, evasive tactics etc. man up, find yourself, be a responsible governor and lead the overhaul that the handicapping system and process desperately needs.   Yes, nice apology, but I am a cynic; there is no way, unless as another tactic, that it was initiated by you.  It was however, just in time and will no doubt stand you in good stead and get some sympathy votes; not from me I'm afraid; a leopard does not change its spots.

You have a tough job, no doubt about that, but the constant criticism and pressure have turned you into a man desperate to protect yourself. You are prepared to belittle others and use any mechanism you can to deflect from your own and the systems failings and inadequacies. There is simply no place for such bombastic, arrogant behaviour for an official of this sport. The fact that you were exposing it on a public forum was madness.  

From my own personal point of view and as a more general broadside, I have to share the love; some of the tactics used on this forum to evade the truth are as good as on the track. From time to time someone makes a point and I feel for them, as invariably pathetic treatment is dished out. The handicapping system flaws and stewarding and handicapping subjectivity is a very serious issue, and people concerned enough to spend time and effort attempting to highlight issues should be respected and the items they address responded to seriously and courteously.    

I have been defending pro running for years because I love the concept. Plenty of kids, who of course are the future of our sport would simply not be not be running without it. In its pure form it's character building, helps athletes and parents realise that talent alone won't get you over the line; tremendously exciting and  through athletic levelling, provides a unique environment where you rub shoulders with athletes and people you normally wouldn't; great for everyone.  

Seeing some kid who's been plugging away getting smashed by the elite athletes week in week out at little aths who comes through from a fair handicap – (WOW how good was the Ballarat Gift Dash for Cash handicapping -  re-handicapped from heat to semi to final) and busts their guts to get the job done, is a life changing moment. !  

But it's very tiring defending our sport when the knockers have so much ammo; you would all be better off putting your smart witty minds to work and agitate for change to fix the current system.

To the system: Management 101 is to make sure the organisation, mission, vision and objectives; make sense, are relevant, motivate and market. The problem with pro running starts from the disconnect between the objective for athletes to “compete regularly, consistently and to the best of their ability”  and reality.  No one in their right mind who hopes to win a big race, is going to run to the best of their ability at a minor gift, so the choices are either to run dead (ie cheat and violate one key aim or not run and violate the other). Essentially this is what makes pro running a joke in the eyes of many. The fact that VAL have allowed this glaring anomaly to remain at the very top of the VAL modus operandi is a sad indictment of the organisation.  The current system is just not set up to avoid the 90-95% of the 90-95% of athletes who are prepared to run dead to get a tick and who can blame them.

Numerous posts, articles and formal submissions to change the system to make it objective, fair and equitable have fallen on deaf ears and an over reactive, subjective effort to police, scare and bully athletes into line has resulted with plenty of friendly fire as well. People can carry on about a 'chat' not being bullying, but I add my weight to the notion that we should not be stuck in the 50's approach to discipline. The absolute towelling handed out to a young athlete I know, was, apart from being dead wrong (not that I blame them for that), an absolute disgrace. Such a shame too that the flawed system has led to the Jeckle and Hyde syndrome to occur for them. This approach needs to change or sooner or later someone who decides the abuse is not worth sucking up in the hope that they won’t be unfairly treated for future handicapping, will haul them before the courts.  There is absolutely no reason why the steward/handicapper couldn't call an athlete in and simply state in a non - confrontational / aggressive / accusatory manner, that "I’m sorry X, but our expectation for you today based on your run rate at x meet(s) was X. It was X, so unfortunately you are due to  receive a NAP / UP / pull / fine / disqualification on this occasion. Is there any reason for your poorer than expected run ?, or feel free to put it in writing by 9.00am tomorrow and it will be considered."  If they are unable to change their aggressive, bullying behaviour, I can provide them with a series of template texts that they can sms to athletes.

Back to the system; far smarter people than me have contributed to the existing system and suggested improvements over many years which has made little positive change. I have some thoughts and will provide them if a review is commissioned. If this does not occur soon, the VAL will implode.


VRTA; presuming someone from the association is across these posts; how about requesting all athletes to provide their views on the current state of our sport via a survey and how it can be improved.?  You could then compile this; publish it and present it to the Board as the basis for review. There are plenty or organisations skilled in this kind of exercise, and no doubt a handful of athletes have contacts who would be happy to assist.

Big Forest, making comment only on the last paragraph, from a VRTA perspective.

The VRTA takes all athletes' concerns and queries very seriously, and we are always open and willing to engage with athletes and trainers, and, if necessary, be a conduit between the athletes/trainers and the league. As the VRTA representative on the VAL board, I believe it is my duty to perform this role in an unbiased, independent fashion, to benefit both runners/trainers and the league, as well as our sport, to maintain its integrity and relevance in the state and national sporting environment. This is my sincere belief and motivation for taking on these roles of responsibility.

We take your suggestions, (as we take all suggestions and feedback) on board, in order to attempt to always be improving our sport.

No system is infallible. No procedure, rule or regulation is immune from possible improvement.

We sincerely encourage feedback, and thank you for yours. Please feel free to contact the VRTA at info@vrta.org.au if you have any further suggestions and we will address it.

Yours in sport,

Downesy.

3 Re: Time for change on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:34 pm

Big Forest


Thank you Downsie; that is good to know and greatly appreciated.

4 Re: Time for change on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:51 pm

Hitman17


Wow, I haven't read such drivel since the old Albany Aths days. On a more serious note "Big Forest", if you re you are going to accuse the chief steward of "bullying" at least have the guts to name yourself and not hide behind a unknown user name. I've been around the block a few times and I can tell you first hand that Brian Marentelli is anything but a bully. Brian does the job because no one else will. It's a thankless job but he does it anyway, week in week out. Calling someone a bully on a public forum whilst hiding your true identity is pretty gutless in my book.

5 Re: Time for change on Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:31 am

SANCHEZ


It is all very well taking pot shots at the way the sport is being run, but when the time comes for people to put up or shut up, the silence is deafening. Even now the VAL board is running on reduced numbers because there weren't enough people prior to the AGM to put their hands up and contribute. There wouldn't have been huge numbers clambering for the chief stewards position either I'd imagine. The reality is most meets this year are well up on previous entries, junior numbers are good and the sport is in a healthy state financially.

6 Re: Time for change on Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:12 am

youngy

avatar
Admin
Admin
Well...until now I hadn't read Big Forest's comment all the way through. I tuned out soon after the first few paragraphs. The first line was pretty much spot on. I just thought "here we go again."

So I read it today - and it's hard to take it seriously. Most of it is just an ego driven, self-serving, waffling, tactless, over-the-top piece of dribble aimed at embarrassing Brian Marantelli. It's a massive fail Big Forest.

"A man desperate to protect himself" WTF! What does that even mean?

Over the last few weeks, Mara has contributed several posts explaining certain situations. They were laced with Mara's unique sense of humour to try and lighten things up. Unlike several people in this sport - Mara has a sense of humour.

You paint a picture of Mara that is the antithesis of who he is. I've never met a more down to earth bloke than Mara. He's not out to 'get' anyone. He doesn't have a vindictive or malicious bone in his body. He's trying to help the sport; taking on a job that 99% of the sports' participants wouldn't dare try to do.

Mr Big........you basically suggest unless the VAL listens to someone like you it will implode? What an ego you must have. Where have you been when the VAL has called for people to join the board, help out clubs, become officials? No. Your'e like the bulk of the sport's participants that just rock up at each meet, whack on your spikes, have a run or two, then head off home. Mara and co are there well before you get there and are still there packing up long after you've hit the road.

I can assure you the sport is in far better shape than it was 20 years ago. Just a reminder that in the mid 90's the sport lost half its running population, in-fighting was rife, factions developed causing much disharmony, people had little trust in the handicapping system, many coaches & athletes walked away disillusioned, the VAL was on its knees financially and a president who tried to rig the Stawell Gift ended up in jail for embezzling funds.

From what I can see the VAL is in a good place right now. Yes there are always issues that pop up from time and the  Women's Stawell Gift was one that I reckon if Mara had his time again would have handled a whole lot differently. But we've moved on from that and the sport is once again building to a super crescendo at Stawell.

Mara is the architect of one of the best & positive innovations I've seen introduced to the sport - guaranteed lifts for smaller Gift wins. Like many, when it first mooted, I adopted a wait & see approach. But the way it worked last year and how it is unfolding this year - it's added a new layer of intrigue to the smaller Gifts.

So instead of waffling on like you THINK you have the answers, how about you DO something positive - nominate for the VAL board and start implementing some of these 'wonderful' ideas you have .

As the great coach John Kennedy once said at a 3/4 time speech - "Don't Think, Do."



_________________
"Let's Go While We're Young"

7 Re: Time for change on Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:09 pm

Mex

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Moderator
Moderator
There are issues in our sport and the Board, VRTA and many others are doing their best to work through it and provide the best outcomes for all athletes regardless of their ability. Don't forget that when I was running against the Youngs of this world the game was to try and sneak under the radar, while this still happens it is not to the same extent. Perhaps a topic for discussion should be the best way the old runners used to pull up? I know a few ways and looking back it was quite funny when I was found out at one stage. Back you come son and try harder.

The tongue in cheek comments made by Mara were addressed by himself. Good on him. I have said before that we do need tougher scrutiny of our athletes to ensure the handicap guidelines work. More NAP's, more UP's as long as they are warranted. Every week you can see the blatant non trying of some athletes. I appreciated some of the insights he gave us as it helped the transparency. Maybe a little misguided though.

Our sport does need to grow and a fair and equitable system needs to be in place these days. The best advertisement is the finals that we have seen lately. Good spread of front and back markers. Good times. Good characters of our sport having a win or making finals. Success for new and older athletes. Junior events. Including juniors in parading athletes (well done Ballarat). A celebrity race. Interstate athletes making finals. Media coverage - Tony from Frankston. All of this helps.

Keep getting the word out Big Forest as a forest must grow from a tiny seed. Get frustrated but do something to help, even if it is helping to pack away the equipment. Everyone can do their bit.

8 Re: Time for change on Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:53 pm

Doona


Big Forest I have to say I have to agree with the majority of the posts here and say you missed the mark big time with this post.

Cannot say the words "Mara" and "Bullying" really fit in the same sentence.

I have known him for a very long time and never seen such a side , in fact I do not think I have ever seen him even raise his voice at anyone.

Having seen the tireless work he puts into both the VAL & VCCL without expecting anything other than the betterment of the sport in return he deserves better.

I am presuming you do not know the man himself very well and it is disappointing that you have used him as a target for your own frustrations.

In all honesty the rest of your post lost it traction after that.

9 Re: Time for change on Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:21 am

Slowcoach


Big Forest,


Your observations of the system flaws are correct, not that that is any secret, but good to have them clearly articulated. Your criticisms of governance and the pot shot approach often taken on this forum are, unfortuneatley, very true.

With the growth the sport has seen in junior ranks over the last 2 or 3 years, I think the majority agree that outdated rules/behaviours threaten to negate any inroads the sport has made. Let’s just hope there is the strength of leadership to address these issues.

On the subject of bullying, there is absolutely no doubt the current stewarding resorts to bullying to enforce it rules/beliefs. One only has to read the earlier comments and posts made by BMara, to realise that this mindset/behaviour is a alive and well. This cannot be allowed to continue and is unacceptable in these modern times. Childish jibes and innuendo are just not necessary.

A calm reasonable request for an athlete explain their performance is all that is needed. Preferably a request for a “show cause” letter to be submitted as to why the athlete should not be given a UP or NAP. This will take away the confrontational system that currently exists. If the excuse is not reasonable, or the athlete is a repeat offender, the stewards then have every right to enforce a penalty..

One can tell by the passion in the posts on this forum, that we all love this sport and want it to succeed. The responsibility is now on our leaders to embrace change and lead us forward for the betterment of the sport.

10 Re: Time for change on Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:28 am

sprint queen


The only time the stewards have ever spoken to me, I actually thought how nice they were about it. I didn't have a great run and i wasn't happy about it either. I expected to to be spoken to, as everyone should be, at a minimum asked for a "please explain". Seems like some people on here have had their fingers burnt by "playing the game" in the wrong fashion and are looking to blame anyone else but themselves. I've loved the Pro's, but I hate running against others who are just not trying and getting away with it.

11 Re: Time for change on Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:54 am

Doona


Spot on Sprint Queen to many people wanting to play the blame game I think.

Slowcoach let me tell you were Big Forest post lets him down terribly.

He is saying up to 95% of Athlete's in our sport Cheat !! And at the same time with some sort of Eutopia put in place this can be fixed and at the same time feels it is a good environment to bring kids into ?

This means that 95% of the kids we bring into the sport are Cheating !
This means 95% of the Athlete's in your own stable are cheating !
And you want to blame the Stewards for not doing there job.

I put the challenge out to both of you and ask what are you doing in your own backyard to stop this from Happening ???
It can't start with the Stewards it has to start with the Athlete's & Coaches so if you want to blame anyone blame them. Athlete's & Coaches need to take ownership of there own performances and if they are sub par for any reason then they must except that there are penalties that come with it.

Yes we are all capable of bad run's but be prepared that with bad run's comes scrutiny & penalties.

In my opinion Forest has used the 95% to sensationalise the situation but if it is 50% it is still not a great number especially were kids are involved. Teaching kids to cheat is not a good environment to be part of.

Stop expecting the VAL to fix this problem and do something at your end to fix it before it reaches the track.

12 Re: Time for change on Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:05 am

Phantom

avatar
ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
Slowcoach, I would actually argue that it isn't the rules/behaviours of the VAL and officials that needs to change but the attitude of certain trainers that need an adjustment.

Bringing new and young runners into the sport, running them 'dead' through various means and then finding massive improvement to win big races seems to have become the norm for a number of trainers and the Stewards are trying to stamp it out. The one area in which the VAL has fallen down is the ongoing appointment of the handicapper that shows no caution with new and young runners and throws them out onto massive handicaps far too quickly. Unfortunately though, he his hoodwinked by a few trainers who put runners out onto the track who look like they have bugger all ability, only for them to miraculously improve every time the big money is on offer.

The VAL needs to put in place better controls around athlete's receiving lifts to slow down their progress, but it's time some of these trainers stopped taking the piss out of the sport by playing the game the way they are. As for all these allegations of 'bullying', what a load of crap. Obviously it is a gutless attempt by certain groups to get the Chief Steward to back off from doing his job and speaks more to their character than his. Keep up the good work Brian Mara because you are clearly doing your job right when they start to complain.

13 Re: Time for change on Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:41 am

Big Forest


Trees in abundance. My final post will try to address some inaccuracies and questions I think are worth answering to hopefully clarify my views and in some small way contribute to further action for the betterment of our sport.

Youngy - I do take your point but the fact is that we are not a team of talented footballers for whom correct action comes without thinking. Quite the reverse in this scenario. Thinking and planning must come first (and that includes airing the dirty linen). The purpose of my post was to show that there was at least one person very unhappy with our system and governance. I have been a committeeman and a ‘hands on doer’ for many years so do value people who put up and as my circumstances permit will offer my services to the VAL

Support for our current governance from a handful of people is to be expected, but my comments were not just knocked up without thought; they were sincere and written in a confronting way so they would be considered personally by the people involved. As old mate used to say 'take a good hard look at yourself'. Yes, I have done so and instead of wingeing in the washroom have set myself on a plan of action to do what I can to help.

Change can be painful but it’s critical to address problems ; perceived or real and move forward on a solid footing.

I also take the point that the length of my post would have lost traction with some of you, but I like to start from the top. It's important to note that it was not written as a blog to entertain the defenders of our current governance and system; it was written to try and cover serious governance flaws, provide a couple of suggestions and a path forward. The intended audience is the silent majority who would hopefully value a commentary written in a logical order.

Like it or not our world has changed. I am not a bleeding heart but our youth are not dealing with many societal issues as well as past generations and generally not thick skinned. I have seen the disastrous effects of bullying in it's more subtle or even unintended form. Sadly, many protagonists don't believe they are bullying but that doesn't change the fact that it is. Many of them would be horrified if they knew the impact of their behavior.

We need to realise that we get best results when we speak to people, if we don’t just do, but first think and then take into consideration their age, sex and circumstances. This is an essential skill for officials but from what I have seen and heard it is not applied, at least not during the on course steward enquiries.

Yes, of course I was being sensationalist with my percentages, but I challenge any runner or their trainer who aspires to win a big race to honestly state that they have always run to the best of their ability ( including not overtraining, eating too much, drinking too much etc etc) in every race. let’s not be naive; there are very few saints in our midst. One stable has in it’s mission statement or objectives something like ‘run your best when it counts’; t doesn’t take an Einstein to clearly understand what to do when it doesn’t.

I realise my words can easily be skimmed over but I did state the virtues of pro running in it’s pure form; The little aths races at the Ballarat Gift were pretty close to it. Sadly this is not the current state for the rest. I would like to believe that all runners and training would suddenly live by some code of athletic honesty but that is utopia.

We just have to find better ways of reducing dishonest running from a system point of view, and to remove perceptions of unfair discretion, to have transparency when a handicap is not allocated in line with what one would expect based on the rules.

It’s good to reflect on the past and acknowledge improvements, but the focus needs to be on being relevant today and working hard to improve.

All the best, and I am sorry to cause annoyance or add to embarrassment. Happy to take a couple of hits myself as I think at the end of the day it’s worth it for something you believe in.

14 Re: Time for change on Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:45 am

youngy

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Admin
Admin
Great response Big Forest - appreciate your input. Like Doona, Mara and I go way back so you give him a whack, you do set yourself up for one back.

I think the numbers of athletes non-trying have reduced dramatically over time because there's ample evidence that you don't need to, to enjoy a successful athletic career. eg: Luke Stevens - who would not have wanted to trade places with Luke during the Nitro series? He has won thousands of pro running dollars, athlete of the year awards, some of our bigger races and continues to be competitive when he returns to the VAL.

By the way - It was very interesting at the Athletics South Australia state champs on the weekend - SA Athletic League regulars Ryan Atkins and Amie Mittiga won the 100m state titles, Lynette Viney won her third straight 200m title and 17yo Natassia Messent, trained by Frank McHugh won the open women's 400m title. Other pro running regulars Seb Baird and Jack Norris went neck & neck to the line for the bronze medal behind Atkins. Throw in Harrison Hunt who just matched his three SAAL sashes with 3 gold medals (Open 200m, Under 20's 200m & 400m)  and several SAAL juniors - there were many athletes we see out at the SAAL willing to show their best on the weekend and most were winners.

Good discussion and it's promising to see so many people defending the sport and condemning the more untoward elements.


_________________
"Let's Go While We're Young"

15 Re: Time for change on Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:28 pm

PODSQUAD


Big Forest

Anyone who thinks they can be at their best every week is delusional. But there are also people in our sport that believe that the wind adjustment used by the VAL is 100% accurate every time and that wind has the same impact on every runner and that the adjustment used by the VAL is 100% accurate over every distance from 70m to 120m. While the educated know that the wind adjustment is just a best guess and becomes increasingly more inaccurate as the wind increases.

Back to being at your best……You can run at your best for that point in time from week to week but that is not being at your best or running as fast as you can possibly run, many factors need to come together to be at your absolute best which include but not limited to peaking, diet, right race plan for conditions etc. etc. and that cannot be done every week and without a lot of hard work both physically and mentally. Your interpretation and the changing of the words of that mission statement is far from what it actually means. Athletes will try to be at their best at different times depending on what their individual goals are and that differs for every athlete and is largely dependent on their natural ability, not every runner is capable of winning a Stawell Gift or even making a Stawell Gift final or winning a race at Stawell… Our squad has athletes of all abilities and my philosophy is to encourage anyone who wants to run to participate and to participate as much as possible …. juniors are our future.

Our sport is great from that perspective as it caters for all abilities which is our main advantage over other forms of athletics, so we should be doing far better than we are and have far bigger numbers than we currently have, we need to encourage participation. Some people in our sport have an interest in keeping it small.

We as a squad have in the past been big contributors to State championships etc. and Talia Martin was actually 5th in a State 200m championship just days before winning at Stawell last year.

But apart from that cheap shot at us, a lot of what you are saying Big Forrest I agree with and is spot on, especially with regards to your comments on the silent majority. From what you have said I would conclude you have a lot to offer and I look forward to seeing you put up your hand to help improve our sport. Change is needed in some areas, and I believe some in positions of Governance within our sport actually know this.

Let’s hope more people turn their minds to progressing our sport and think things through.

16 Re: Time for change on Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:47 am

PODSQUAD


Phantom wrote:Slowcoach, I would actually argue that it isn't the rules/behaviours of the VAL and officials that needs to change but the attitude of certain trainers that need an adjustment.

Bringing new and young runners into the sport, running them 'dead' through various means and then finding massive improvement to win big races seems to have become the norm for a number of trainers and the Stewards are trying to stamp it out.  The one area in which the VAL has fallen down is the ongoing appointment of the handicapper that shows no caution with new and young runners and throws them out onto massive handicaps far too quickly.  Unfortunately though, he his hoodwinked by a few trainers who put runners out onto the track who look like they have bugger all ability, only for them to miraculously improve every time the big money is on offer.

The VAL needs to put in place better controls around athlete's receiving lifts to slow down their progress, but it's time some of these trainers stopped taking the piss out of the sport by playing the game the way they are.  As for all these allegations of 'bullying', what a load of crap.  Obviously it is a gutless attempt by certain groups to get the Chief Steward to back off from doing his job and speaks more to their character than his.  Keep up the good work Brian Mara because you are clearly doing your job right when they start to complain.




Phantom, I have just taken the time to actually read your post, I normally just skim past them as they can have an anti-POD squad tone or an attempt to pot someone from the POD squad or Ballarat.

But you are so far from the truth and an attempt to distort the facts when you state…. “Bringing new and young runners into the sport, running them 'dead' through various means and then finding massive improvement to win big races seems to have become the norm for a number of trainers and the Stewards are trying to stamp it out” …. if you are going to make such statements you should substantiate it with specifics.

...as you would or should know, when you first start to coaching someone who has had limited training ...young training age and physically still developing you get rapid and significant gains and the gains plateau out as they develop and train…. that is if you know some basics about athletics coaching. So to suggest that coaches bring young runners in and run them dead is so wrong and I would have to assume an attempt to have a go at me.

As I have stated many times my philosophy is to introduce as many young runners into our sport of all abilities as our sport caters for that...it is actually great to see other coaches now doing just that and it is a welcoming trend for our sport, the junior pathways need more structure and consistency but the ball has started rolling and we need to keep pushing it- not stop it... Phantom you should also look at the big picture and encourage more juniors into our sport.

I do, however believe the younger athletes should have capped handicaps in group1 and classic races and need to earn their handicap. As we developed consistent and structured junior pathways ...this will allow the handicapper to discretionary adjust the juniors to keep them keen and interested and a gauge of their ability so as to more accurately handicap the juniors in the big races…. this has started but is very difficult with mixed gender junior races over inconsistent age groupings.



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