Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Saints and Shysters...

That's just a taste of the accusations flying back and forth on MLive, as the first "big" high school meet of the year has come and gone, and the results are nowhere to be found. Are directors of these sorts of meets saints or shysters? Personally, I think everyone has a little of both in them. I try to remind myself that virtually everyone on earth means well. It's in the execution of stuff that we sometimes fall apart.

I have to admit I chuckled when a director defended his high meet entry fees by saying the money went to a variety of costs including advertising. The same director took out an ad on the Michtrack website last year... and never paid.

As anxious as we all are to get going with indoor track--heck, it's cold out there!!--remember that the MITS circuit will be there for our high schoolers, just like it has been for 30 years.

Newcomers might not know the philosophy behind the circuit, but it's worthwhile to remember, especially in light of the current ruckus. There has always been indoor track in Michigan, virtually as long as there has been track, period. In fact, since the 1920s, there have been proposals for the MHSAA to sponsor indoor track. The organization has said no, and will continue to say no, until it finds a way to create widespread opportunity for participation on a cost-effective basis... or to make a buck off it. What did I say about saints and shysters? All depends upon your perspective.

In the 1970s, Charlie Janke, the then-Jackson coach, teamed up with a variety of other MITCA coaches and formed the circuit. Charlie's philosophy was plain and pure, and still rules the circuit today: it's all for the kids; it's never about the money. Keep entry fees as low as possible. No official gets paid much more than gas money. Don't blow money on awards and advertising. The awards the kids will get later, if they work hard enough. The purpose of the meets was to provide opportunity to compete. Period. The kids needed a place to sharpen up before the outdoor season.

Much has changed since then. Charlie Janke has retired. MITCA no longer organizes. That has fallen to the MITS organization, which is composed of one man--Mike Jurasek, and his family. And I can personally vouch for his sainthood status, because he has stayed true to Charlie's ideals: it's all about the kids, it's never about the money.

Support the MITS circuit all you can. Talk to athletes in Indiana and Ohio--other states that wish they had what we are blessed with. And in this winter season, when you encounter a meet in Michigan that is not associated with the MITS circuit, ask yourself (and them) why. There is no cost involved with being a MITS meet. A director just has to agree to the philosophy. It's all for the kids, it's never about the money.

No comments: