USATF could end masters club scoring (titles at indoor, outdoor nationals) under rule proposal

Elimination of club scoring wouldn't end relay celebrations, but Southwest Sprinters TC would no longer be in running for team title. Photo by Dave Albo

Last January, the WMA Competition Committee issued the world body’s “Rules of Competition 2018-2020.” Buried within, under Scoring, is Rule 151.1: “There shall be no overall Team Championships.” That appears to mean that WMA meets won’t score national teams for the purpose of identifying the top teams. OK fine. But since USATF likes to stay in step with World Masters Athletics, a rule proposal at the Columbus annual meeting this week aims to update USATF rules to end club scoring at masters nationals. (See team results from Maryland indoor nationals and Spokane outdoor nationals.)
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Ruh roh. That won’t win cheers from perennial club powers SoCal Track Club, Atlanta Track Club, Sierra Gold TC and Potomac Valley TC.

“Item 71 – Submitted by Graeme Shirley, Rules Committee Masters” asks that USATF amend Rule 331.2 as follows: “There shall be no overall Team Championships.” Rationale is given as compliance with WMA Rule 151.1.

My prediction: This change won’t happen. Just because it’s on the docket doesn’t meant it’s destined for OK.

Among other things, many delegates are members of clubs — and invested in the tradition to scoring nationals and awarding club titles. Also: An argument can be made that clubs recruit for the sake of national titles, and club growth could be stymied if titles are off the table.

I wrote masters national Chair Rex Harvey, and he replied:

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Graeme [Shirley] did an exhaustive comparison of WMA and USATF Masters rules. There are several items like this that WMA doesn’t do so he wrote up us not doing it. He did it to be complete. We can override and do what the majority wants to do. We can have our own rules that differ from WMA practice, but in my opinion, we must not do anything that disadvantages our athletes. Something like allowing an implement that differs from the WMA spec. Additional implements like the Super Weight are fine, different Weights at different ages than WMA is not OK.

In fact, the word “masters” appears 104 times in the USATF rules proposals, so give them a gander to see if your ox is gored (or groomed).

BTW, the WMA Competition Committee, chaired by Canada’s Brian Keaveney, includes Americans Bill Murray, Sandy Pashkin and Carroll DeWeese.

In the meantime, what’s your view?

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About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at or Story tips always welcome!

10 Comments on "USATF could end masters club scoring (titles at indoor, outdoor nationals) under rule proposal"

  1. There are many proposed rules that impact Nationals; and propsed 5 year versus 10 year relay records.

    Only those that sign up for the convention can vote.

    The proposed rules are near the bottom of webpage at—Calendar/2018/2018-Annual-Meeting/Document-Library.aspx

  2. Is this change for change sake? I belong to a very small club and chasing club titles has never been on my club’s agenda but I realize that this has considerable meaning to a handful of larger clubs as a recruiting tool and bragging rights. Frankly I do not see the point of making this change – unless some just want to stir the pot just to see if it boils over.

  3. Having some kind of carrot at a National meet is nice to have for sure, but for the smaller clubs, as Mary mentioned, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. I would like to see a hybrid of this. East vs West for example. Great teams such as So Cal, So Cal Striders, SW Sprinters, etc. would combine and go head to ahead against the likes of Atlanta TC, Potomac TC, and so on. This would allow the smaller teams to combine with the big teams to come home with some type of National accolade. Just my two cents. I realize, that is not what is on the table here, but maybe it can be considered sometime down the line. Being the past president of a great track club, the thought of combining with another club or clubs from the West Coast at a National meet was always in the back of my mind.

  4. If we all join the biggest club, we can all be national champion!

  5. I sincerely hope that USATF does not eliminate team scoring at USATF Masters Track & Field Championships. I serve as secretary of Potomac Valley Track Club, and I can say that our club’s eligibility for a team championship helped us attract a large percentage of our participants, all paying customers. I believe members of other teams would agree. Team championships bring out the numbers and attract great interest to our sport.

  6. Hannah Phillips | November 29, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Reply

    What makes sense for WMA and international competition does not necessarily do the same for national level competitions with respect to club championship titles. Why do away with them? They absolutely bring in more people and generate interest to clubs and track and field community recruiting for national title swag.
    What USATF might consider is adding a club competition level for smaller clubs so they can have the same recruiting incentives and carrots as the larger clubs.

  7. Instead of eliminating club titles you need to look at the way they are scored. If the participants score doesn’t meet All American Standard than their points should not count. That could help to balance the scores when some teams inflate their roster’s by adding people prior to Nationals.

  8. Michael Walker | November 30, 2018 at 9:05 am | Reply

    There is no Masters Track club in my area so I’m not involved but it seems like the club championship could be a good thing. Anything that brings more people to the meet should be a good thing. I think that the thing to emphasize to the USATF is that it brings in more entrants. Numbers [and money] talk and get the attention of the people at the top.

  9. Item 71 was withdrawn, scorecard shows. So club scoring is safe.

  10. Scoring should stay but the LDR system makes more sense. That is, scoring by 10 year age groups, M40, W40, M50, so on.

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