The Freeze

Our friends in baseball have given Track fans an inadvertent promotion. The Atlanta Braves sponsor a contest called “Beat the Freeze.” It is a race between Nigel Talon, the Freeze, and a fan selected from the stands. They race along the outfield warning track from the left field to the right field foul poles. The distance is about 190 meters.

Gotta Look Sharp

The Freeze dresses in googles and a glacier breeze colored bodysuit that resembles the slushy drink he promotes. This is tantamount to a runner’s endorsement of cookies but I won’t complain. McDonalds is a long time Olympic Sponsor. Money talks.

The Grift

As a sporting gesture, The Freeze spots his opponent about a five second head start. The lead looks insurmountable even against the marginally fit contestants he races. But, one hundred and ninety meter is farther than one realizes. The contestants’ cars probably aren’t parked that far from their seats. Talent and fitness almost always prevails.

Can’t touch this!

One can only imagine the affirmations these guys are pumped with before they toe the line against the Freeze. Friends gotta be in their ears, “Dude you got it. You were the fastest kid in our class at Dodgen Middle School. The Freeze has nothing on you.” 

Could it also be the lights and crowd that lures civilians to race a real athlete? Are they given beer tickets by the Braves promotion team for rehydration after the race but they guzzle beer before the race to summon courage? As Reality TV producers say, “The crazier the better.”

“Freeze you suck. I’ll kick your ass!”

It’s Not a Game

Participants have face planted to the dirt, pulled hamstrings and smelled victory only to have it snatched at the line. Inevitable pain doesn’t deter volunteers from stepping forward to race the Freeze.

Harvard grad Gabby Thomas

The Freeze never ran in the Olympics or other championship meets but he can run. His 10.47 100M and 21.63 200M personal bests are solid times. These marks, however, leave him outside of truly elite racing. The Freeze is definitely not DI. In fact, USA’s 2020 Olympic 200M Bronze medalist, Gabby Thomas, has run faster in the 200M with a PB of 21.61.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on The Freeze. My point is he’s fast but don’t let his show overshadow what’s really fast. It’s like when the football world got excited over DK Metcalf’s amazing run to tackle Budda Baker. The feat even inspired Metcalf to race the real track guys. Surprisingly, DK held his own but he still finished last against the pros.

The fastest runners in the world are the track guys. Enough said.

A foot race is one of the earliest and purest forms of entertainment. Narrative is what makes it special. A race against a fan in the stands or a guy from another sport captures peoples’ attention. It’s not a gimmick. It’s a story. All this is to say, Track and Field needs to tell stories. It’s not all about records.

The NFL’s Parity

The playoffs and the march to the Super Bowl has begun. Fame and glory awaits the winners. In terms of finances, it is amazing to learn a strong playoff run has a minimal impact on a team’s bottom line because the NFL’s business model is based on socialist principles.

Colin Kaepernick

Collective Security

No lie. This is not a story for the Onion.  As the players sacrifice their short-term and long-term health for their contracts and the Lombardi Trophy, the billionaire owners have crafted a business model like central planners. Their plan regulates the distribution of income to guarantee them riches regardless of their teams’ performance on the field.  

The fix is in. Years ago, the owners agreed the league couldn’t survive unless every team shared equally in the spoils. They determined the fans didn’t want to watch lopsided games or cheer for a team going 3-11. They didn’t want a few super teams trouncing the competition year in year out. Parity is what they wanted even though parity is a bad word to capitalists.

It seems once one is RichAF capitalism doesn’t matter. It’s time to work together. So, the collective strength of the NFL props up the lesser franchises. The team with the worst record, not the best record, receives the first pick in the college draft. The weak teams are not scorned. They remain members of their gentlemen’s club.

How Much Is Enough

The NFL TV right keeps cable alive

How is this done? All the “national” revenues generated by the league are placed into one pot that is equally distributed to each club. This not only includes the TV contract which is a monstrous ten year deal worth $321B but also licensing fees along with a portion of each teams’ ticket sales, merchandising, concessions and parking revenues. 

Riches must await the teams that make the playoffs. Nope. Every team shares equally in all the revenues generated in the playoffs. The home teams of playoff games do, however, keep their concession and parking receipts. Clearly an extra million or two dollars is meaningless if one already has a billion.

Open Secret

Forbes, The Atlantic and other reputable magazines periodically report this story. Deft marketing that wraps the league around the flag keeps the fans from digesting the truth.

The game day pageantry which includes honor guards and the singing of the national anthem links the game to patriotism. In turn, the symbolism connects the game to support of the troops. Militaristic jargon like blitz, bomb, pistol, air attack, shotgun, ground game and formation peppers the broadcast and reinforces the patriotic sensations.

Religion even seeps into the messaging with “Hail Mary” taking on a new meaning thanks to Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer/Navy graduate Roger Staubach. The leap from patriotism to capitalism is not a stretch. Subsequently, the league’s socialistic roots are obfuscated. Thank you for your service Aaron Rodgers. 

Tell a fan that the NFL operates on a socialist business model and the reply is, “You are misinformed. Come on, the players are the strongest, swiftest and most courageous in the land. They’re paid really, really well for their performance. That’s not socialism.” 

Worker Solidarity

Such thinking misses the point. The players are the workers. Of course, they have to fight to get their money. Subsequently, they are represented by the NFLPA, one of the strongest unions (socialistic) in the country. The unity of the players and their commitment to fight for the rights of everyone is why 48% of the NFL’s revenues are allocated to the them.

Moreover, as stated earlier, the owners call the shots. Their interests are protected. The worst team in the league will always get their 1/32nd cut of all the league’s revenues. This is why the Washington Football Team (WFT), one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the league, is still the NFL’s 5th most valuable franchise. In spite of a 142-191 record over the past twenty-one years and lowest attendance of all the league, the WFT is worth $4.2B.

Owner Daniel Snyder of the Washington Football Team. In spite of having the leagues worst attendance, the Washington Football Team is the 5th most valuable NFL franchise at $4.2B

Capitalistic Spain?

Spain, Italy and France are generally labeled as socialistic but their futbol (soccer) is capitalistic. For example, La Liga, Spain’s top soccer division, gives each of the twenty teams an equal allocation of 50% of the television money. The remaining half is divided in two equal parts and distributed based on sporting results over the past five seasons and “social influence”, which includes the number of fans. To the victor goes more spoils.

As with any capitalistic system, the higher the risks, the greater the rewards. In La Liga, the three worst teams are relegated to the Segunda Division. The top two teams in the Segunda Division and the winner of a playoff are promoted to La Liga. This makes for gut wrenching season ending drama for the fans of teams on the verge of relegation or promotion. No tanking or load management for these teams. Every game counts so the integrity of the games is never called into question.

Super Teams

Messi and Renaldo: The Super Players for the Super Teams

The distribution of TV revenues in La Liga ranges from €158M for La Liga Champion and €48.5M for the bottom dweller.  This revenue chasm has made for super teams just as the precinct NFL owners feared. In the past twenty-two years, only five teams have won the La Liga Championship: Barcelona has won ten while Real Madrid has won seven. The success of these Super teams comes at the expense of the rest of the league. Conversely, thirteen different teams have won Super Bowls during the same time span and the league’s profitability and fan interest has never been better. 

This picture makes it easy to conclude maybe Socialism isn’t such a bad word. 

Perhaps, the cooperation among the NFL owners should be more clearly articulated to the public. Could America’s game become a new symbol for America’s capitalism? The point of the matter is capitalism needs a reboot. A look at the NFL could help open conversations to speak more civilly about fiscal policies.


My dad recently moved into an assisted living facility. He battled for three years to maintain his freedom and independence. Sadly, his latest fall finally proved to him at ninety-one he no longer had the judgment or strength to live on his own. His new home right across from Thomas Circle in Washington, D.C. amounts to a nice sized dorm room, ample lounge spaces and a refractory. The real benefit of his new accommodations is the medical attention and care on hand to manage his health and to keep him safe. Once a man, twice a child.  

The Clean Up

It took me four days to close out my dad’s two bedroom apartment. His mementos were enough to produce an episode of “This Is Your Life.” The task to choose what items to discard, donate or save required me to determine what was truly meaningful to him. The responsibility to curate his life drained me emotionally and physically. What was clear, however, was the most treasured memorabilia my dad saved were from his thirty-three year career as an Air Force Fighter Pilot.  


Flight Log

I found the innocuous, thin black 5” x 7” Pilot Flight Record book among my dad’s important banking records. It is from 1957. The log is an account of each flight he made in his first year of flight training. This was the seemingly mundane documentation of my dad’s realization of his dream to become a fighter pilot. The date, destination, duration and aircraft for every flight he made were meticulously recorded in this book. Each week the entries were “certified true and correct” by his Commander. 

Typically, my dad flew four or five days in a row. On most days, he flew once but occasionally he flew three times in one day. The neat entries appear as simple, perfunctory notations. In reality, each entry represents the arduous work required to expertly handle a multimillion dollar one and a half ton aircraft under the most extreme conditions like an extension of oneself. Takeoffs, landings, barrel rolls, night flights, instruments only flights and countless other maneuvers had to be mastered before a pilot earned his wings. This is the official account of the successful accomplishment of the work required to fly for your country. 

I asked my Dad when I was 8 or 9 why everyone looked so sad. He replied, “War isn’t pretty.”

The flight record holds particular relevance to me because as a world class runner I kept a meticulous training journal. At a glance, my journal takes me back to a time I was young and invincible. A journal may not log the specific details or emotions felt at the time but the mere notations have the power to stir up indelible memories nonetheless. Indeed, the Pilot Flight Record transported my dad back to the tarmac and the purr of his T-34 poised for another flight. Perhaps, he returns to the peacefulness of being 20K feet above the earth engulfed by the hum of his engine and his thoughts or the adrenaline elicited from the execution of his first aileron roll. The book remained in his possession all these years as a clear reminder: He had “demonstrated that he possessed to an unusual degree the ability, initiative, and other leadership qualities so essential to successful performance of duty as an Air Force Officer.”


I did not come across any of my dad’s old report cards, athletic medals or other records of his personal achievements. It seems all else pales in comparison to the journey to become a fighter pilot. Packing up his apartment took longer than I expected because it was impossible not to leaf through the history at my hands. The year books from his time as a flight student and flight instructor offered the clearest visual account of his journey. Each book had a standard group shot of the training class of about thirty young pilots in front of a T-38: The preferred training jet of the era. In addition, each student proudly posed in front of their plane. These normally stoic young men stood for the photographer in dominant poses with their helmets propped on their hip and wide grins on their faces. They exuded pride like a mountaineer who just summited Mt. Everest or an Olympian on the podium. Statistically, their accomplishments are equally exceptional. 


I can’t ignore my father was the only African American in his year books. In 1948, the United States Air Force was the first of the American armed forces to integrate. The Air Force leadership along with the success of the Tuskegee Airmen helped refute studies which claimed blacks were predisposed to lack physical courage and whites would not tolerate them as their supervisors. Fifteen years later, fueled by his contemporaries’ protests like the boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama transportation system for the right to sit in the front of the bus, my dad was an Air Force fighter pilot instructor. He realized the dreams of a movement before it even gained momentum.

Super Suit

In the back of my dad’s clothes closet were probably the two most definitive items of his military career: His Air Force blue dress uniform and the freedom green flight suit he wore in Vietnam. These were his Super Suits worn for the greater good. Silver eagles pinned to the shoulders of the dress uniform identified his final rank as a full colonel. His silver flight wings sat above the six rows of ribbons on his left breast pocket. The ribbons and medals told stories of duties and achievements which he never shared with me in detail. 

For example, I knew my dad was in the Army and fought in the Korean War before he joined the Air Force. I, however, always thought of this stint as a mere prelude to his real military acclaim. Research revealed the Army Infantry award on the left breast coat pocket of my dad’s uniform represented exceptional achievement. The three inch blue enamel rectangular bar, which was superimposed with a Springfield Arsenal Musket, Model 1795 which sat atop an elliptic oak-leaf wreath which symbolized steadfast character, strength, and loyalty told a far deeper story. The badge recognized that as an infantryman he operated under the worst conditions and faced a greater risk of being wounded or killed than any other military occupational specialties. The bearer was a highly-proficient, tough, hard, and aggressive soldier. My father did not do anything halfway.

The flight suit could have been easily overlooked. It is a jumpsuit akin to a workout uniform. Gold oak leafs adorn the shoulders. They denote my dad’s rank at the time as Major. His name, all in capital letters was stitched above his left breast pocket. I gather any other information on the uniform would breach a pilot’s requirement to only reveal his name, rank and serial number if he was captured. This item of clothing was only worn in the theater of war. It is similar to the uniforms worn by great athletes as they accumulated their memorable statistics and championships which are eventually donated to Canton or Cooperstown.


My dad took me to big time track meets like most fathers take their kids to professional football or baseball games. This showed me the sport wasn’t just something that popped up every four years in the Olympics. We shared a penchant to move through time and space differently than most others.

I can thank my dad for helping me find running as my passion. In turn, at the top of my bedroom closet in a Nike USA National Team bag is my kit from the indoor world championships and a few other old uniforms I wore in the course of winning six USA National 800M track championships during my career. Ironically, my dad never realized these may have been my Super Suits. We spent more time talking about our differences than our similarities.

New Home

Everything in the 1500 sq ft. apartment condensed to a 5’ x 7’ storage bin. His new room was furnished with an adjustable bed since his frailty made it hard to sleep comfortably in a regular bed. I brought him his Eames chair so he could enjoy the view of Thomas Circle from his balcony. In addition, we displayed his T-38 and F-4 model planes which were the ones he primarily flew during his career. I also brought him a farewell plaque literally made from a board. The squadron he commanded in Vietnam gave it to him. Family pictures, a few of the yearbooks and other knick knacks also made the cut. His caregiver and a couple neighbors picked up some furniture which would always remind them of their friend. The rest was thrown out or donated. I had to. The doctors told me dad would never again live on his own. 

Only a few months ago when I discussed with my dad he needed to think about more help from his caregiver he snapped at me, “I can take care of myself like I did when I was fourteen after my dad died. . . Like I did when I risked my butt everyday in Vietnam.” He suffers from vascular dementia which comprises the prefrontal lobe. His short and long term memory were more less in tack. His dementia is primarily expressed by a lack of judgement and poor reasoning. 


One of my dad’s doctors asked to speak with me after one of my visits. She wanted to know the man behind the man under her care. His slouched posture confused her. The problem could be physical if he is too weak to hold himself up or neurological if the brain can’t relay the message to the body to sit up straight. My dad is a conundrum. He is in a cognitive decline but he battles on. He is lucid. He reads the paper and retains information. His personality is amplified not muted. He may be diminished but I fully recognize the man in front of me. As I watched my father age, I’ve come to realize you die the way you lived. Maybe soldiers don’t just fade away. I know one who remained defiant of time and space his entire life.

I am Human

A story for my blog about Medina Spirit’s positive drug test at the Kentucky Derby sat unfinished among my Google docs. My goal was to illustrate how track and field’s drug testing protocol is the most comprehensive of all sports. The Sha’Carri Richardson bombshell brings this issue to the front pages and provides me serious motivation to complete this post. 

The opening of the post remains pertinent . . . 

At least it was a horse this time.

Frankly, I gave a sigh of relief when I learned it was not a track athlete but the horse, Medina Spirit, embroiled in the latest drug scandal. The track and field community is a little touchy in the face of positive tests for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). We just can’t handle another black eye in the middle of our Olympic build-up to Tokyo.

Then again, Sha’Carri Richardson isn’t just another athlete.

I Believe I Can Fly

Sha’Carri Richardon is brassy. This makes her a polarizing athlete. Nevertheless, she bluntly speaks the truth which is why public sentiment has overwhelmingly come down on her side after Friday’s announcement of her positive drug test for THC (marijuana). launched a petition in support of Richardson which has so far received over 500,000 signatures. The petition requests the International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to reinstate Richardson to the 100M in the Tokyo Olympic Games. In addition, Congressional Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin worked with the Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties to formally ask USADA to lift Richardson’s suspension. It’s not just Tweeters and Instagram kids supporting Richardson. It’s a movement. 

Double Standard

So, Medina Spirit seamlessly trotted off to the second stage of the Triple Crown but Sha’Carri Richardson is out of the Olympics. WTF?

The drug testing system for horse racing is not under federal oversight.” This means each state implements and enforces its own rules.” This is why Medina Spirit’s positive test in Kentucky had no bearing on the horse racing at the Preakness in Maryland.

The Charlatan Trainer

FILE – In this Wednesday, May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Baffert has been suspended for 15 days by the Arkansas Racing Commission after two of his horses tested positive for a banned substance. The commission says in a ruling that the suspension runs from Aug. 1  to Aug. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Consequently, Bob Baffert (Medina Spirit’s trainer) remains a revered trainer even though horses he has trained have racked up twenty-nine drug violations over his career.  Seventy-four horses have also died in his care in his home state of California since 2000. Clearly, the equine industry values winning over integrity.

On the other hand, the track and field drug testing system is centralized and robustly supported. WADA lays down the law for all athletes who wish to compete in the Olympics. USADA oversees WADA’s agenda in the United States. In other words, the track world tirelessly works to weed out dopers. 

Citius, Altius and Fortius

This stance is the foundation of the OlympicGames.  Young athletes may not consciously know the “Olympic Values” but they are embedded in their journey. Joy of effort, fair play, respect for others; pursuit of excellence; and balance between body, will and mind is at the core of the statement, ”I am an Olympian.”

Horse racing is majestic but the business is murky. The business model heavily relies on stud fees not race winnings to reach profitability. Race tracks survive on gambling revenue. It is no wonder a man like Baffert is among its mist. 


When Baffert emerged from the muck of the stables to defend his team against the drug charges he claimed he was, “Totally shocked . . . This is a pretty serious accusation. We’re going to get to the bottom of it. We didn’t do it.” 

Days later once Baffert saw he could not skirt the charges he claimed the anti-fungal ointment Otomax applied to Medina Spirit was unknowingly tainted with the banned anti-inflammatory betamethasone. Finally, he blurted on Fox News, “ We live in a different world now, this America is different. It was like a “cancel-culture kind of a thing.”

Truth to Power

Conversely, Sha’Carri Richardson appeared on the Today Show the morning the news of her positive drug test broke.  She appeared with minimal makeup, for her, backed in a corner between a door and a wall. Her bravado was softened but her candor remained, “I want to take responsibility for my actions . . . I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do. . . I apologize if I let you guys down, and I did.” The interviewer, Samantha Guthrie, was almost driven to tears by Richardson’s raw honesty.

This was as much an Olympic moment for Richardson as her 100M victory less than two weeks earlier.

Failed Promises

The institutions that govern us are merely a reflection of their leadership. In spite of the brilliant aspirational message championed by the IOC, it has let us down on numerous global issues of importance. It ignored anti-Semitism in Germany identified by a 1934 United States fact finding mission. In turn, Germany retained their bid to hold the 1936 Olympics Games which turned into an Adolf Hitler propaganda campaign. The governing body’s sexism limited opportunities for women for years. For example, “concerns for women’s health” kept the marathon and 10K meters run out of the Olympics until the 1984 Games. 


Ironically, USA Track and Field, the sports governing body, may be correct in their cryptic, seemingly tone deaf statement in regards to the failed drug test: Athlete health and well-being continue to be USAT&F’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future. 

Sometimes people who are hurting will self-sabotage. People aren’t brands. They are only humans. The weight of a nation on the shoulders of a 5’1 “little girl” from Dallas who everyone underestimated is daunting. Richardson’s desire to return better than ever is more difficult than we realize.

I’m pulling for her. 

Super Bad

Ding Dong the Super League is dead. It is a story for the ages how twelve European futbol super powers sought to form their own renegade league (per the Super League press release) ”to help futbol at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world.” How could such altruism collapse in only forty-eight hours? 

Unlikely Allies

Frankly, a plan hatched between American hedge fund moguls, Russian oligarchs, European industrialists and Gulf royals was destined to fail. The Axis alliance of WWII made more sense than these guys getting together. This story of “egos and intrigue, avarice and ambition, secret meetings and private lunches, international finance and internecine strife” could only end in an epic collapse.

In spite of its challenges, the futbol moguls, eventually known as the Dirty Dozen, pressed on. They made their fortunes through the defiance of obstacles and risk. They believed the union of the world’s best futbol teams into one league was their destiny.


Walter Isaacson described the mind set which leads billionaires to attempt the seemingly impossible in his biography on Steve Jobs. Isaacson noted, “Jobs lived in an alternative universe. He saw reality as malleable. He could convince anyone of practically anything.” Jobs’ colleagues and business associates called this trait the “reality distortion field”. 

A vivid example of the reality distortion field mind trick played out in Apple’s procurement of the elegant and substantive glass that encases the iPhone. Corning had not manufactured the Gorilla glass for years. Nevertheless, Jobs placed an order for all the Gorilla glass Corning could produce. 

Corning’s CEO, Wendell Weeks, politely told Jobs the order could not be filled. He maintained, “A false sense of confidence could not overcome engineering challenges.” Undaunted, Jobs blankly stared at Weeks and replied, “Don’t be afraid. . . Yes, you can do it. Get your mind around it. You can do it.” Corning made their first shipment of the coveted Gorilla glass in six months. 

The Dirty Dozen

Clearly, the Dirty Dozen believed the more reality distortionist the better. They believed they knew what was best for futbol and no one else needed to weigh in on the strategy. Follow our lead and all will be fine.

Their plan failed because they could not answer one simple question: How much is a gallon of milk?

Know your Customer

This is what Roy Logan asked his Generals as he embarked on his hostile takeover of PGN in the HBO hit series Succession. Logan became enraged when no one could tell him how much a gallon of milk cost. His son answered his question with a question, “Who gives a shit?” Another unfortunate target replied, “Um, like, I mean regular milk?”  

Sports fans view their teams with a touch of childlike innocence. They may drink excessively during a game. They may curse the players more coarsely than their pet dog. Sports, however, provide their fans with a place of order, fairness, accountability and hope. Teams are a truth in the life of their supporters. The fans know how much a gallon of milk costs. They will tell the Emperor he has no clothes on.  

A Shot in the Ocean

It rained the day I received my first Covid19 vaccination. I was happy but not overjoyed. I respect the virus but I don’t fear it. So far, my adherence to the CDC guidelines to wear a mask, social distance and wash my hands have kept me free of the virus.  

One person’s shot is anticlimactic anyway. We will not best the plague until millions of people are vaccinated. My inoculation would just be a shot in the ocean.

I was more excited that I would receive my inoculation at the 168th St Armory. You see, the Armory is home to one of the few world class indoor track facilities in the United States. My track and field community had stepped up and joined the fight against Covid19.

Sports venues around the country have been repurposed as Covid19 vaccine and test centers. In New York City, the Bronx has Yankee Stadium. Citi Field represents Queens. Washington Heights has the 168th St. Armory.

The Armory

It is fitting the Armory offered its space for a medical mission to serve its community. The man who restored the Armory from the decline much of NYC experienced in the 1970’s and 1980’s was the late Doctor Norbert Sander. He was an internist on City Island. Dr. Sander took pride in the American Records set at the meets hosted at the Armory. He also supported the City Track program the Armory sponsored to promote fitness and healthy living for the neighborhood Washington Heights kids. 

Pennants almost two stories high jet out from the Armory’s facade. They tell part of the story behind the three story red brick building which spans nearly an entire city block.

A blue banner with the Armory’s winged foot logo adorns the building. The logos of their sponsors New Balance and the New York Road Runner, host of the NYC Marathon hang beside it. These pennants identify the building for visitors and the teams that arrive to compete. They might as well be hieroglyphics to the thousands of people who daily pass by.

I felt at home as I approached the 169th Street service entrance to the Armory. I had entered the building through this entrance countless times to see the world class meets annually held in the building. On this day, I came to protect my health and the health of others.

No Queue

A friendly woman greeted me to confirm my appointment. She placed a purple dot sticker on my black rain jacket to indicate I was there for my first shot. Next, I was sent down the track to a check-in table at the top of the first turn. 

My walk along the homestretch of the track reminded me of the races I had seen at the Armory. Most recently, Donavan Brazier, Ajee Wilson and Elinor Purrier set American Records along this very spot in the previous year’s Millrose Games. I could feel their power.

Donavan Brazier win the 2020 Millrose Games 800M to set the American Record in 1:44.22

Taking Care of Business

Workers buzzed around the infield of the track as they took care of their business. They seemed oblivious to the surroundings. As I chatted with my check-in worker I stated,  “You know this building is like Madison Square Garden for Track and Field? Do you know how many Olympians and great athletes have competed on this track?” She blankly looked at me and replied, “I don’t know how anyone can run?” She handed me my appointment and vaccination cards. Then she waved me to the infield where I would receive my priceless vaccination. 

I wanted to shake some sense into the woman and give her a tour of her workplace. Literally, thirty feet away from us was the USA Track and Field Museum. The red spikes Jim Hines wore in the 1968 Olympics to win the 100M and set the World Record were around the corner. She had no clue. Maybe Dorthy’s ruby red shoes at the Smithsonian would have been of more interest.

Every four years track and field captivates the world at the Olympics. In between the Games, the sport goes on but few take note.

Dr. Norb Sander

Dr. Saunder resurrected the Armory for the athletes. He raced at the Armory as a student at Fordham Prep. He continued to compete there when he attended Fordham University. This was in the late 50s and early 60s. At this time, lines on a wooden floor demarcated the track. A victory wasn’t a right of passage. Survival from a fall was. 

In one legendary battle, Sander fell into the furniture and the spectators in an attempt to hold off a couple strong runners on the very first turn of a race. He proudly recounted

Dr. Norb Sander and Susan Waterfall with the
kids from City Track

“Besides the splinters, I had floor burns. I was as red as a beet. My skin looked like it had gone through a meat grinder.” 

Floor burns aside, Sander wanted as many kids as possible to experience the joy and fulfillment he derived from his running days. The Armory was his shrine, his holy place. A revitalized Armory would be his proxy.

All hands are on deck to fight Covid19. The Armory Vaccination site embodies this characterization. 

A track person would compare the precision of the experience to the operation of the Penn Relays. Almost immediately, a nurse waved me to his station to receive my shot. 

Which Arm?

The nurse warned of side effects, asked about health concerns and gave me my shot. My second inoculation would be in three weeks. The appointment was scheduled on a computer. It was also marked on my vaccination card which I put in my wallet.

I had to wait fifteen minutes before I could leave in order to make sure I didn’t suffer any side effects. 

A yellow sticker with my departure time of 12:08 was placed on my jacket along with a two inch wide red and white circular sticker. It read, I”VE BEEN VACCINATED. Also printed on the sticker was a red circle with a slash. Inside the symbol was COVID19.

Hard Times

As I sat on the infield, I reminisced about the history of the Armory. In 1982, a homeless shelter was stationed in the expansive building.  As the homelessness crisis overwhelmed the city, cots popped up in the Armory like mushrooms.  

People now feared for their safety when they entered the building. Dr. Sander noted, “Every window was broken. All the plumbing was broken. Hermits were found living in the corners.” 

Bishop Loughlin High School held a meet in the Armory for thirty-one years. It was the largest high school track meet in the country. It drew 4000 competitors from 300 schools in a ten state region. The 1984 edition was the last because of the deterioration of the Armory.

The pandemic has cast a similar blight on our country. Ironically, the vaccination center at the Armory is light at the end of the tunnel. 

I Can See the Tape

Sticker Tree

12:08 arrived before I knew it. I left the building and headed east on 168th Street towards Broadway to take the 1 train home. A few steps up the street I noticed hundreds of people placed their yellow, purple, and fuchsia stickers on the pipes in front of a building.

A mosaic of hope formed on the pipes. The site reminded me of a driving force for all serious runners: Excellence does not happen immediately. One step at a time. Consistent hard work will prevail. 

Every day the sticker tree grows like bamboo. Anyone who wants a vaccination can get it. The ocean will fill. Dr. Sander and the Armory played their part in the mission.