Monday, February 20, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost

Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 19, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012

Sparta’s Ed Neighbour, the USATF New Jersey’s Long Distance Running committee chair has a full agenda for the annual rules meeting this Thursday, February 23rd . Proposed changes or new rules governing the conduct of the championships and the various grand prix are submitted in September to be decided at the February meeting. This method is used to give the committee and the general membership time to research the feasibility or desirability of a rule.

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” could be the motto of the committee. As a doctor is advised to “first do no harm”, so too is the admonition to the committee.

This year’s proposals may not be quite as volatile as in some years, but will still cause some discussion. My prediction is that two will be approved and one will be voted down.

One proposal is more a clarification as to how the teams are scored when a clubs B team actually scores higher than the A team.

How’s that again? Here’s how. The team designated before the race as the A team has a member drop out and not finish. Their back up runner finishes the race but is well back, or there is no back-up runner. Meanwhile all of the B team’s runners finish and that team has a better score than the A team. That would not be a problem in most circumstances, but in New Jersey we have a grand prix where the A team needs to be the primary team.

For that reason a proposed new rule is to clarify that in any division, the first team for a club that finishes is the A team and the next team is the B team and so on. This same issue has come before the national committee that instituted a very similar masters team grand prix in 2011. They had just such an event in which an A team did not finish but the club’s B team did.

A team captain proposed a rule that if passed will make life a lot easier for team captains. Presently in the divisions that score five members, the team is allowed to declare eight members on the team. For the divisions that score three, five are allowed on the team. Open women declare seven and score four.

But what happens if a captain has nine runners, or ten available? What do you do with the extra runners? Well, you leave them off the team, and that makes no one happy. The new rule will allow for up to ten to be declared. In that way the team will be full and no one is left out. After that, if there are eleven or more runners, the captain can split the squad into two teams.

The same would be true for teams that score three. They would be allowed to have six on the team. Open women’s teams would declare eight and score four.

The proposed rule that is sure to be defeated was proposed in order to solve the dilemmas outlined in the previous discussion. In this scenario it is proposed that each club may declare only one team and that it contain an unlimited number of members with the current number for each age division scoring.

If this change were made the participation of the clubs would surely go down. I refer back to “First, do no harm”. The man or woman who is usually on a B team will almost never be a scoring member under the multiple member plan. They would soon lose interest in running for their clubs and look elsewhere for competition. Under the current rules some B teams do place in the team scoring and their points are added into the overall club scoring.

Other items on the agenda are a review of the fall 2011 championship races. Also a review of the 2012 championship line-up, important this year because of the races that were selected as championships for the first time. The full agenda is available on the USATFNJ website as are directions to the meeting location at the Alcatel-Lucent headquarters in Murray Hill. The meeting will start at 7:00 p.m.

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