Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Avon Track and Field

It's come round again, and many of the same problems that we were talking about a year ago - three years ago - have still not really been resolved.

The numbering and results system - no don't get me started.....

But officials are a different matter. A couple of years ago we made a big fuss about clubs that weren't supplying the required number of officials - or indeed any officials at all. And for a while the situation improved. I made myself very unpopular by claiming that some clubs were relying on officials from other clubs - by which I meant Yate and Bristol - to cover events that their athletes wanted to take part in. I actually used more colourful language than that, so maybe that was all that the trouble was about.

Well, it seems that we're back where we started. I don't know about field events because they happen in another part of the world. But I do know what was going on at the finish. On the track judges' steps there were two officials from Bristol, two from Yate and one from Bath. On our side of the track, there were two timekeepers from Bristol and three from Yate, including me.

No track judges from North Somerset, Gloucester, Forest of Dean or Bitton. No timekeepers from Bath, North Somerset, Gloucester, Forest of Dean or Bitton. Yet all those clubs had athletes running and expecting their times to be recorded.

In most leagues, a club that turns up without the required officials loses points, or doesn't gain them, which is much the same thing. In the Avon League there is no penalty at all. And there are good reasons why a points penalty wouldn't work. Yate finished the match with over a thousand points: Bitton had less than two hundred. What difference would it make to Bitton if they failed to add thirty points for their officials? None at all. Or to Yate if they DID gain thirty points for officials? It is also a fact that there is very little emphasis on winning or losing the match, anyway.

But there are penalties that could be imposed. The league could refuse to accept entries from clubs who provided no officials: ban their athletes, expel them from the league. But where would be the fun in that? The league only exists to give competition to as many young people as we can accommodate.

But there is a sort of halfway house, suggested by Stuart Woodman. If a club fails to provide a field team, a track judge and timekeeper - or any part of that basic contingent - they would be prevented from entering any non-scoring athletes. But that would suggest that the league needs a different scoring and results system in which clubs have to submit their declarations in advance of the meeting - so we're back to that again.

It's not as though there weren't plenty of adults there. It's not difficult to spot the order in which runners finish a race. Or indeed to operate a stopwatch, though that is a bit of knack that can be gained with practice.

Don't get me wrong. I really like the Avon Track and Field and enjoy being an official, either as starter or timekeeper, for those matches. But it does annoy me that other clubs are failing to live up to their side of the bargain.

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As a student I worked in a hotel in Devon. We waiters worked in pairs, sharing a work station, and my partner was an Italian called Giorgio....