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'The Good Old Days'

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  • #82025
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    I got to thinking a few days ago, (probably prompted by the death of Sir Roger bannister), about whether my love of our sport is still as pure as it was when I first got hooked ( circa 1964 ).

    I was 12 at the time of the Tokyo Olympics, and that was it. Me captured for life.

    I think its the professionalism, the pushing of the barriers to the ethical limits, TUE’s, the suspension of belief in what I’m seeing, the lack of progress in the war against drugs, Russia, corruption everywhere, the domination of the Africans in endurance events.

    The fact that Britain is moving ever closer to being a nation of sprinters. The disparity in distribution of wealth.

    ETC ETC

    The youngsters on here won’t really understand what I’m banging on about.

    Things could be worse, though. Its not as cynical as the world of football.

    #82032
    Profile photo of dpickup
    dpickup
    Participant

    Steve
    I think, thankfully there are some pure aspects and moments still in our sport. Not everybody wishes to excel via cheating. So hope stays with me.

    PS re football: what a wonderful & great game of chess it is between 22 homo sapiens, but one can watch just any 5-minutes of any game and see doubtful tackles, jersey tugging … As I’ve said in these columns before sadly at the moment it is mostly a game grossly performed by thugs. Who would ever be a referee there?!

    Interesting how much more power a Rugby Union ref has, and respected too.

    #82040
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    Hi Steve,

    My personal view is that there is far less drug taking going on than at any time since I started watching athletics. I have no doubt plenty of athletes are micro-dosing EPO and taking stuff with TUEs that isn’t justified but no way does that compare with the abuse of steroids in the 60s -80s or HGH and EPO in the 90s and early 00s. With regard to the 60s, have a read of the relevant section in the attached paper – it’s a good summary.

    http://www.kawasaki-m.ac.jp/soc/mw/journal/en/2006-e12-1/01_kremenik.pdf

    I also recall a survey of US athletes at the training camp prior to Mexico in 68 when the majority admitted they were using steroids.

    As for Bannister, the first attempt he made on the mile world record involved using lapped runners as pacers. Perfect example of someone operating inside the laws of the sport but outside the spirit.
    The Good Old Days aren’t what they used to be!

    All my favourite athletes are from a bygone age and I’m sure I’ll never love Muir et al as much as Bedford, Ovett and Holmes but I think we have to be wary of rose-tinted spectacles.

    #82042
    Profile photo of ursus
    Ursus
    Participant

    I think its the professionalism, the pushing of the barriers to the ethical limits, TUE’s, the suspension of belief in what I’m seeing, the lack of progress in the war against drugs, Russia, corruption everywhere, the domination of the Africans in endurance events.

    Money’s at the root of most of that. And it’s totally trashed English football if you (a) care about values or (b) care about the National Team. If you get your kicks by seeing a team of over remunerated, temporarily badge kissing, Belgians, Argies, French and Spaniards win a wallet waving competition, well good luck to you. Total turn off for me. Love the game, just not what surrounds it.

    If you want a good contrast, look at family Southgate.

    Gareth is paid millions. He’s been handed a national team that has nil chance in the World Cup due to the vested interests of the Premier League and will quite possibly will get fired on the back of it. We’ll all wring our hands for 5 minutes after which precisely nothing will change.

    His Dad Clive remains a committee member and volunteer at Crawley AC where I first encountered him over 35 years ago. That’s a hobby, Gareth’s is a job but ignoring money I wonder one has got more fulfilment from their sporting life?

    Steve, you’ve got 15 or so years on me. But while I love my sport I am so jaundiced by much of what I see at the elite level. Athletics can still inspire and to me there’s still nothing like a well flighted javelin that the crowd all of a sudden realises is going a very long way. But for all the highs there are too many lows for the love to be unconditional.

    #82076
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    Thanks for those responses, guys.

    I think I might have had a moment of introspect.

    Soviet mentions steroids in the 60’s – 80’s, which is certainly true (of course) from mid 70’s onwards. But I enjoyed the athletics in the 60’s with not a thought that what I was watching was tainted. And from a purist point of view I think the sport was better for me when it was less professional.

    I’ll be all right in a day or so……..

    #82082
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    Thanks for those responses, guys.

    And from a purist point of view I think the sport was better for me when it was less professional.

    There was A LOT more money in athletics in the 70s and 80s than now. There were more people making a decent living out of it in those “amateur” days than now. There was also a lot more corruption amongst officials and incentive to cheat.

    I think the last truly amateur period was in the 50s when being posh and rich made it much easier to compete than if you were working class, struggling to make a living.

    Going off at a bit of a tangent. I wonder if the modern press would have found ways to crucify Ovett, Coe and Cram the way they’ve tried to destroy Mo? I suspect Andy Norman would have been caught for something and Ovett would have suffered by association. All those alleged Swiss Clinic visits would have done for Coe (quite right too ;-) ) and Cram would have been slaughtered for considering to run for West Germany.

    I think we all look at the past through rose-tinted glasses and remember the best bits. The present will always suffer by comparison.

    #82090
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    Interesting reply, Soviet.

    There was surely NEVER more money in the 70’s and 80’s. Norman’s brown envelopes wouldn’t add up to a bag of figs compared to lottery funding. The Eastern Bloc wouldn’t have been paid much, either. No Diamond League funding, no where near as much sponsorship deals.

    More corruption? I don’t believe that , either. Once the money started pouring in, (probably in the 90’s), would be when I would imagine noses went into troughs. Especially at the summit of the IAAF.

    How much do you think a handful of top athletes were making in the 70’s and 80’s in Britain for example?

    #82109
    Profile photo of philipo
    philipo
    Participant

    I think its the professionalism, the pushing of the barriers to the ethical limits, TUE’s, the suspension of belief in what I’m seeing, the lack of progress in the war against drugs, Russia, corruption everywhere, the domination of the Africans in endurance events.

    Money’s at the root of most of that. And it’s totally trashed English football if you (a) care about values or (b) care about the National Team. If you get your kicks by seeing a team of over remunerated, temporarily badge kissing, Belgians, Argies, French and Spaniards win a wallet waving competition, well good luck to you. Total turn off for me. Love the game, just not what surrounds it.

    If you want a good contrast, look at family Southgate.

    Gareth is paid millions. He’s been handed a national team that has nil chance in the World Cup due to the vested interests of the Premier League and will quite possibly will get fired on the back of it. We’ll all wring our hands for 5 minutes after which precisely nothing will change.

    His Dad Clive remains a committee member and volunteer at Crawley AC where I first encountered him over 35 years ago. That’s a hobby, Gareth’s is a job but ignoring money I wonder one has got more fulfilment from their sporting life?

    Steve, you’ve got 15 or so years on me. But while I love my sport I am so jaundiced by much of what I see at the elite level. Athletics can still inspire and to me there’s still nothing like a well flighted javelin that the crowd all of a sudden realises is going a very long way. But for all the highs there are too many lows for the love to be unconditional.

    Happy to agree heartily with the message of the post.

    #82158
    Profile photo of longstrider
    LongStrider
    Participant

    Really interesting thread, the discussion on football is spot on. When you sit back and look at some of the fans as well – it’s cringe-worthy hearing people say ‘i’d die for my club’ or making out football is some sort of way of life. I love football, I play it and watch it very closely – but the amount of fans that can’t separate themselves from it and realise it literally doesn’t matter, is frightening.

    Always enjoy reading/listening to those who were around for the Coe/Ovett/Cram et al era.

    My first vivid memory, and what I’m sure really started the stranglehold athletics has on me, was Jonathan Edwards winning world gold in 2001. I remember thinking he was tiny, and begged my mum to buy me the same yellow asics spikes he had – after the day I went outside and measured 18m in my garden that was me hooked and I made sure I had a Commonwealth Games ticket for my 10th Birthday.

    Not exactly ‘the good old days’ but a short memory I, a 90’s baby often refers back to.

    #82163
    Profile photo of longstrider
    LongStrider
    Participant

    At the same time Soviet, it could be argued that if there was a platform like we have today, for athletes to be named and shamed so easily, and like you say – for even mere association; the sport may have been and gone through the darkest days of doping and by now be on the other side of it.

    Note ‘could’ – part of me doesn’t want to think that as the social media age in many ways is ruining sport.

    #82174
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    Longstrider

    I defy anybody who saw that series by Edwards not to have been in awe watching it.

    Its amongst my top two or three sporting memories. He made it look staggeringly easy throughout the series, so much so it was a thing of beauty. Speed , balance and rhythm. Nothing ugly. I’ll never forget it.

    Good call.

    #82175
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    Football

    Back in the 70’s it was the ultimate violent sport, more off the pitch than on. Imagine going to see your team play and ending up in hospital.
    Then it became the cynical sport…..”we didn’t open those gates, it was the fans who broke in”…..it took Duckenfield and the police nearly 25 years to dispel that lie. Worse than Watergate.
    All the while it was the sport of corruption at the top, led by fat cat FIFA loonies.
    And now? Its the great divide. Played by multi-millionaire mercenaries at the top level who don’t really care about the club that pays their wages, let alone the fans. Yet still the fans flock through the turnstiles, almost as though Bill Shankley’s famous ‘life and death’ quote still holds true.

    All of this is directed at International and Premier League level. If you happen to support a club like Wealdstone there is still some fun to be had.

    #82176
    Profile photo of philipo
    philipo
    Participant

    Soviets post about more money in track and field in the 70s and 80s is unevidenced and vague if he is referring merely to the UK, and does not explain where this money allegedly came from and to whom it was paid… no a bit of nonsense together with the other vague generalisation about corruption… yes we here about Mr Norman but which other British officials were allegedly corrupt.
    The Lottery funding has been paid to all sorts of Brit athletes over the years with no justification that I can understand. This revenue stream did not exist in byegone times for sure.
    If he is referring to both East Europe and the Americanathletes then I would be tempted to say I agree with him.

    #82180
    Profile photo of longstrider
    LongStrider
    Participant

    SteveK26

    I’m glad you agree. It’s just the way he barely broke stride when approaching the board, his leg turnover was something of a 10 flat sprinter (although he did clock 10.4 once) – pure elegance. Watching Idowu coming up a few years later was a nice contrast, although never panned out how it could.

    #82182
    Profile photo of dpickup
    dpickup
    Participant

    ‘the good old days’ and there were good things; but there is now.

    Perhaps a case can be made for Bannister reflecting the good old days back in the 50s with his intelligent focusing of his minimal training and at the same time preparing for his future career as a Dr.

    Remember though in those good times, the ’50’s, for instance Stanislav Jungwirth,TCH who got the 1500 WR with 3.38.1 in 1957. He was allegedly training 5 hours a day ie a reflection of the Eastern Bloc’s state-supported system aimed at dominating world sport. (not that I have anything against Jungwirth, or Kuts …, them merely responding to the System being set up behind the Iron Curtain).

    PS the great Emil Zatopek (WRs from 5000-30,000 & MAR OLY gold ’52) I think was fanatical about doing hours & hours of training, but before his country set in motion State support.

    PSS If you want a journey down memory lane read ‘Article emerged today ‘List of the Oldest Living Olympians (aged 90+)’ that appeared in the T&FN listing today
    see
    http://acsweb.ucsd.edu/~ptchir/

    Zatopek’s wife, Dana, is still alive b19sep22 (Emil, born the same day as his wife, died 2000), as is Harrison Dillard …

    #82211
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    Interesting reply, Soviet.

    There was surely NEVER more money in the 70’s and 80’s. Norman’s brown envelopes wouldn’t add up to a bag of figs compared to lottery funding. The Eastern Bloc wouldn’t have been paid much, either. No Diamond League funding, no where near as much sponsorship deals.

    More corruption? I don’t believe that , either. Once the money started pouring in, (probably in the 90’s), would be when I would imagine noses went into troughs. Especially at the summit of the IAAF.

    How much do you think a handful of top athletes were making in the 70’s and 80’s in Britain for example?

    Steve,

    As Philipo correctly said, I am making assertions without providing evidence. I did so because I thought it was commonly accepted that there was more money around then. I understood that athletes had far better sponsorship and appearance money (under the table) than now and I thought that added up to far more than lottery funding. I’ll sit down with my old books from the period tonight and see what I can dig out.

    In the meantime, some initial points:

    I googled ‘Steve Cram and money’ and found a quote form him saying that he started to make a good living in 1980. He then persuaded his Mum and Dad to buy a house on the understanding he’d pay the mortgage. He was 18. No one on lottery funding is paying their parent’s mortgage.

    The first four year contract with ITV signed in the early 1980s was for £7m. Far more in real terms than the sport gets now.

    There were far more paying spectators watching athletics in the 70s and 80s than now.

    Norman’s bags of money didn’t add up a bag of figs?? Really?? What about the 6 figure sum in cash that disappeared from his hotel room. BAF launched an investigation that was widely reported.

    The 90s – at least the second half was when the money started to dry up, not when it started to pour in.

    #82225
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    Soviet

    A bag of figs compared to lottery funding.

    How many athletes on lottery funding today compared to how many got the fat brown envelopes from Norman?

    I have no evidence, either, Soviet. But in a truly professional era as opposed to ‘money under the table’ payments, and at a time when we have Diamond League prize money, appearance money for lesser events, and state funding via the lottery it seems logical to me to assume there is more wealth distribution now spread across far more athletes. The creme de la creme today probably don’t need a mortgage and can buy mum and dad a house out of lucrative sponsorship deals.

    It really doesn’t matter that much to me either way. I just used to enjoy the sport more 30 years ago than I do now.

    A question for you Soviet.
    What would you rather have, a four year European Champs cycle and a Europa Cup and World Cup woven into the programme, or what we have now?

    #82248
    Profile photo of philipo
    philipo
    Participant

    We know for certain the very considerable sums paid by Nike to athletes in the States; we also know that a sum for all track and field matters for the elite in this country represents millions per Olympic cycle comes from the Lottery. I suspect considerably in excess at comparable times of bygone eras.

    #82309
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    Aaargh – I’ve lost two long posts!! Here’s a brief summary:

    ITV deal according to Tony Ward (‘Golden Age of Athletics) and Jack Buckner (autobio) was £10.5m over 5 years – over £30m in today’s money. UKA get less than £3m p.a. now – by comparison half the amount in real terms.

    Alan Pascoe & Associates generated £4m in new sponsorship for AAA in 3 years, on the back of that deal. No details of existing sponsorship deals but looking at old programmes, there were far more big companies sponsoring events than now.

    Budd v Slaney earned them £150k.

    Jack Buckner was paid £7k a race in 1987 – c. £20k in today’s money. Lottery funding for a year now is £29k for the handful of WCP recipients. Even in 1985 before he reached world class, Norman agreed a deal to pay him £500 per race for the 8 domestic events that year. He won £1500 for a domestic road race earlier in the year.

    In 1988, Colin Jackson at age 21 bought a house for £83k, with cash and was driving a Merc.

    #82311
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    I think Steve mentioned Diamond League money. No one is getting rich on the DL circuit:

    Diamond League prize money 2017

    #82313
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    We know for certain the very considerable sums paid by Nike to athletes in the States; we also know that a sum for all track and field matters for the elite in this country represents millions per Olympic cycle comes from the Lottery. I suspect considerably in excess at comparable times of bygone eras.

    You were right to criticise me for making generalisations and not providing evidence. Then I read your first sentence here.

    Can’t find the original article on US athlete earning s but here is a reference to an interesting report

    “According to 2012 articles in trackandfieldathleteassociation.org, while about 20 percent of T&F athletes ranked in the top 10 in their events in the U.S. make more than $50,0000 annually, approximately 50 percent of them make less than $15,000 year, including sponsorship, prize money and grants.

    One article from the same source suggests an All-American NCAA DI middle distance runner upon graduation, with an agent, may get a contract totaling $28,000, with another $4,000 stipend to cover both travel and medical expenses. Out of that will go approximately 15% to the agent, $11,000 for work-related expenses such as travel, and $9,000-$10,000 for living expenses. Then, as an independent contractor, he/she will also have to pay taxes on the salary and “free” gear that also makes up part of the contract”.

    #82316
    Profile photo of stevek26
    SteveK26
    Participant

    Good research, as ever, Soviet.
    I’m happy to bow to your greater knowledge of athletics funding.

    But it doesn’t affect my core feeling that I was much happier watching athletics (home and abroad) in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s and even 90’s, than I do now. The way the sport has been driven forward is alien to me. Christ, give me one Ed Moses over an entire field of posing, hyper-egoed. posturing sprinters any day.
    Give me one Irena Szewinska in preference to any US W400 runners from the last decade.
    Give me Colin Jackson v Allen Johnson in preference to Semenya v Dibaba.
    Give me Alberto Juantorena or Joachim Cruz in preference to David Rudisha every time.
    And please on a domestic front give me one Lillian Board or David Hemery or Daley Thompson against a whole army of current British sprinters (Dasher excepted).

    Do you get my drift? Entertainment value. Personalities. Characters. Who would you go to see? Would you prefer to see a world record shaven by a few hundredths by some nondescript American or would you prefer to be at the Crystal Palace watching ‘Bootsie Bedford’ gutsing out another front-running 10,000?

    Steve.

    #82320
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    Good research, as ever, Soviet.
    I’m happy to bow to your greater knowledge of athletics funding.

    But it doesn’t affect my core feeling that I was much happier watching athletics (home and abroad) in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s and even 90’s, than I do now. The way the sport has been driven forward is alien to me. Christ, give me one Ed Moses over an entire field of posing, hyper-egoed. posturing sprinters any day.
    Give me one Irena Szewinska in preference to any US W400 runners from the last decade.
    Give me Colin Jackson v Allen Johnson in preference to Semenya v Dibaba.
    Give me Alberto Juantorena or Joachim Cruz in preference to David Rudisha every time.
    And please on a domestic front give me one Lillian Board or David Hemery or Daley Thompson against a whole army of current British sprinters (Dasher excepted).

    Do you get my drift? Entertainment value. Personalities. Characters. Who would you go to see? Would you prefer to see a world record shaven by a few hundredths by some nondescript American or would you prefer to be at the Crystal Palace watching ‘Bootsie Bedford’ gutsing out another front-running 10,000?

    Steve.

    Not only do I get your drift, Steve, I agree with every single point. Even the preference of Juantorena over Rudisha – although that’s a close call. There was far more entertainment value in those days than now. Far better personalities. That’s why there was more money in the sport. ;-)

    Almost every time I defend the current sport against the past, I make the point that all may favourites are athletes of yesteryear. I try to take a balanced view though and not forget the rampant drug taking and corruption, avoidance of head to head competition, selection controversies, unpleasant characters, etc, etc.

    Also I try not to look at past favourites uncritically. To take two examples you mention:
    1) Jackson. Actually – he had no meaningful rivalry with Alan Johnson. Johnson totally owned him. From 1995 onwards, Jackson was often a source of huge frustration to fans, frequently underperforming. Imagine what Philipo would say if a modern sprinter chose to go shopping instead of attending a Commonwealth Games, as Jackson did in 1998.
    2) Bedford. My second favourite of all-time. Also written off by most at the time as a massive choker who could only run fast times when there was no competition. That’s not entirely fair when you look at his injury record but I remember the way my Dad used to dismiss him as a failure. How many medals did he win (I learned from several posters on the Muir topic that medals are all that matter)? NONE.

    #82323
    Profile photo of dpickup
    dpickup
    Participant

    When did all this ‘post moment of victory’ posing/crowd fawning … stuff begin? 1954 Chatawy certainly didn’t do it after beating Kuts in the last 20m and taking his 5000 WR off him too. 1960 Elliott didn’t after totally crucifying the OLY 1500 field and getting a WR. 1995 I loved how Edwards quietly stepped out of the pit after his 18.29.

    Some pet hates
    – Mo with his head deal (but ok with Bolt deal!)
    – Coe & others jabbing nd jabbing a forefinger to the crowd after winning
    – jumpers urging crowds to clap before they jump
    – frantic jumping around displays by an athlete after they’ve won
    – athletes kneeling and praying after the race

    Personalities, surely a case of taste: never keen on Ken Dodd for instance but like Jack Dee. Admire Helen Mirren but just don’t feel right about Meryl Streep. No time for Liz Taylor and that voice, but oh, oh Jeanne Moreau. David Beckham was fine playing football but not talking to a camera, while Steve Hendry multiple world champ is superb swapping to technical commentator …

    #82324
    Profile photo of sovietvest
    sovietvest
    Participant

    I really hate that kneeling and praying. plus thanking God for victory in post-race interviews. If a God existed he wouldn’t give a toss which one of his children – whom I’m told he loves equally – won. By thanking God, what an athlete is really saying is “Thank you for choosing me to win”. That’s not an act of humility but quite the opposite – it’s declaring yourself a Chosen One and the height of arrogance.

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