I originally had another article scheduled for today but when I heard about this injustice I had to take a stand. This BS has gone on for far too long.
Saturday night I watched a TiVo recording of the USATF National Indoor Championships, following the impressive performances by newcomer Justin Robinson of Arizona State in the 400m, Anna Hall in the Heptathlon/400m, and the American Record by Aleia Hobbs in the 60 meters.
In the men's 1500 meters I anticipated an exciting race and wasn't disappointed, veteran Josh Thompson holding off Sam Prakel on the last straight to win. Races indoors are rarely boring, the challenges of running on a smaller facility what makes it so thrilling.
And then I wake up this morning to discover Thompson was DQed by the meet referee for jostling Kasey Knevelbaard on the last corner. I re-watched the race and could see the hand-check, the slight jostle, but not in my wildest dreams did it come close to disqualification.
I don't blame the umpire (it's the official title) on the corner for raising a yellow flag - that's what they are supposed to do. Anything that could be an infraction should be examined. But the nitpicking by the running referee is uncalled for - just plain stupid.
If I had a chance to challenge him/her I guarantee sparks would fly!
I was a high school coach for five years and a college coach thirty-five and if you had to ask me how many pitty-patty fouls could be called indoors in the 1500/mile - I'd say half the time. Quarters are tight, moves unexpected, and I don't know a single track athlete who has the peripheral vision of Larry Bird.
In the USATF rulebook it acknowledges that by its very nature indoor track involves contact, the manual attempting to describe shades of gray. I understand the challenge, but they couldn't have gotten it more wrong this time.
I looked up officious in the on-line dictionary. "Assertive of authority in an annoyingly domineering way, especially with regard to petty or trivial matters." The description is perfect.
In fact, there was a picture of the 2023 USATF referee in the reference.
I'm seventy, probably the average age of USATF officials (& I am one), too many old-timers on the wrong side of wisdom. Confused? Muddled? Maybe. But there is no way Josh Thompson should have be DQed on Saturday and it is an injustice which should be overturned if the USAFT has any morals.
But I'm not holding my breath.