Join TFAA today | 2018 TFAA member registration is open

Join TFAA today! REGISTER

Registration is now open for 2018 Track & Field Athletes Association (TFAA) membership. Membership categories encompass individuals who are either professional track & field athletes or dedicated leaders and supporters of the sport such as event directors and coaches. TFAA members play an active role in the future of track & field, road racing and race walking and have a direct impact on the process and the policies that impact track & field athletes. A group discount is available for four or more professional athlete members joining together.  Groups will receive 50% off the 2018 membership.  The group discount expires April 30, 2018.  Email info@trackfieldaa.com for special instructions on securing the group membership discount.

In addition to contributing to the unified voice of track & field athletes and industry influencers who are directly impacting the future of track & field, members receive important benefits that help them improve business conditions, raise performance levels and promote and contribute to the high caliber of national and international professional track & field competitions.

Membership is open to active and retired professional track & field athletes, agents, coaches and athlete alums as well as independent TFAA Board members. For more information about membership categories, please see membership categories below.

Rookie Professional Member

  • Been selected for no more than one national team and
  • Publicly declared professional status within 12 months.

Professional Member*

  • Been competing as a professional athlete for more than 12 months.

Athlete Agent Member

  • Represents at least one professional athlete.

Athlete Alum Member

  • Retired from track & field competition 1-10 years.

Coach Member

  • A coach who is training at least one professional athlete.

Event Director Member

  • An event director who currently conducts track & field competitions for professional athletes or intends to conduct track & field competitions for professional athletes within 12 months.

Independent Member

  • An independent individual elected or appointed to the TFAA Board of Directors or the TFAA Advisory Board.

Supporting Member

  • An athlete alum who retired from track & field competition more than 10 years ago or an individual who supports the mission and goals of TFAA.

To register, click MEMBERSHIP.

The Athlete’s Voice: Tools for the Transition

By Lashinda Demus

As a member of the TFAA board we are constantly seeking out various benefits to provide athletes. When the opportunity to be part of an Ivy League executive business program arose, I immediately became interested. Who would pass up the opportunity of being involved with the highly ranked Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth?!

Being a professional track & field athlete can be very difficult financially if you are not in the top three in the world. Luckily, I’ve been ranked in the top three until these past few years. Before the decline in performance I never took time to think about my transition into the “real world” until I was forced to. This was the perfect launching pad.

Before the decline in performance I never took time to think about my transition into the “real world” until I was forced to.

This special program was aimed specifically at transitioning Olympians and veterans. We all had to apply to be considered, which wasn’t strenuous, but it was straight to the point; either the program felt you were compatible or they didn’t. Fortunately they thought I was. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew what I planned to get out of the program, a glimpse at what MBA coursework looks and feels like as well as to have a great reference for my future endeavors.

The program was two and a half weeks and in class full-time, including Saturdays and Sundays. We received a full scope of running a business form spreadsheet modeling to financial statements to financial analysis. These were the more difficult courses for me; I really wanted to pull my hair out! LOL! But then we moved onto business strategy, branding, operations and negotiations; this was more my speed. We had a lot of group activities where we tested out different strategies and incorporated techniques that we learned about. This was one of my favorite parts because I’m so competitive and wanted to win so badly.

One of the best parts about the program in my opinion was all the guest speakers from various fields as well as the one-on-one coaching. We had prominent leaders in their respected fields there for us to pick their brains and ask as many questions as we could think up. These leaders included Paul Raether, a Tuck graduate and General Partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Robin Hayes, President and CEO of JetBlue, and Olympian Jim Craig, President at Gold Medal Strategies. The even cooler part was that every single speaker opened themselves up to us to reach out anytime outside of the program. I thought that was extremely considerate. For the one-on-one coaching we were partnered with current MBA students that helped with resume building and formats and to answer any questions on business and business school. I even ran by a couple of business ideas for some feedback.

One thing that became apparent to me is that track & field athletes are missing important developmental tools to help with transitioning from sport to the workforce, especially when you want your options to expand further than coaching. There are certain ways to go about transitioning properly and most track & field athletes are either too far away to see the road ahead or don’t even know that it exists. The TFAA is looking forward to providing more opportunities to set all of us on the right path after our athletic careers end.

The Athlete’s Voice: Moving #CleanSport Forward

By Adam Nelson, TFAA President

The past seven days have taken me to DC, Albuquerque and, now, to Florida. The TFAA is committed to pursuing and leading initiatives that enhance the profession of athletics in the United States and beyond. We’re doing this by filling a vital gap, including the athletes’ voice into the broader discussions that impacts and shapes policy affecting your sport & profession.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to give testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to draw attention to the issue surrounding doping in sport. The other witnesses included Michael PhelpsTravis Tygart — USADA, Rob Koehler — WADA, and Dr. Richard Budgett — IOC. Travis and Robert expressed the need to separate doping control from the business of sport, something that Dr. Budgett echoed in his own testimony. Dr. Budgett’s testimony marked a departure from the IOC’s previous position to maintain control, but further clarification suggests that the separation would be limited in scope. We will have to see how all this plays out.

Regardless of the posturing, I truly believe that any changes in policy will fall short of real improvement unless we — the athletes — insert our own voice into this equation. We are the ones who ultimately pay the greatest price for supporting clean sport. We should have a much stronger, independent voice in this conversation. In order to do that, we have to organize our thoughts and our efforts better. We need to educate ourselves on the issue and create our recommendations and solutions.

After the hearing, I took some time to record my thoughts on the day:

  1. Our Government Cares about Fair Play: 16 congressmen and women attended the hearing and several senators made time to meet with Travis, Michael and me during the remainder of our visit to the Capitol. This is a topic that is non-partisan in nature. The question is: How do we — the athletes support it?
  2. The Power of the U.S. Government: The U.S. Government does have limitations to its power. It can only indirectly influence the IOC and WADA through financial support or other lobbying efforts. However, these congressmen and women were very interested in moving the dial in a manner that improves the experience for the clean athlete. I believe that Michael, Travis and I connected with them on an emotional and logical level that we all hope will lead to more action for a clean sport.
  3. Next Steps: This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of this meeting. Without a clear path forward, we will lose the momentum that this powerful ally can create for us. To keep things moving the TFAA is looking at organizing a working group on anti-doping. This group will include athletes, independent experts and others to help identify the best path forward. The TFAA will share the research and findings of this working group with all the stakeholders in our sport.

How Can you Help?

The TFAA is currently working with the USATF-AAC to identify a group of athletes who wish to participate in a letter writing campaign to the congressmen and women serving on the subcommittee on Energy and Commerce that hosted the hearing. We need athletes to strongly support this. Please email us at info@trackfieldaa.com with the heading “OUR VOICE MATTERS” and a TFAA representative will follow up with you.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to meet you or see you on the road!

Marketing, Sports, and Negotiations.

It’s hard to believe it was eight years ago when Nike’s John “Cap” Capriotti delivered one of the most informative presentations I’ve ever heard at any Annual Meeting. Cap speculated that the total platform – referring to the total marketing dollars spent on track and field on athletes, meets, and other events – might be valued at $160 million split between athletes, events, and federations (please remember this number is dated and may not be accurate now).  According to Cap, it wasn’t really important how you allocated those dollars amongst the athletes, events, and federations as it was zero sum game – a loss in one category would be offset by gain in another.   The platform was only worth $160 million.  Changes to the size of the platform could only occur in situations of real growth.

Sports apparel companies are the primary sponsor for track and field athletes in the United States.  Assuming we are in a zero sum game as Cap referenced in his presentation, that means an increase in support to the federation must have a corresponding decrease from either events or athletes or the sport just grew substantially in the US.  That’s why I find it both exciting and disturbing when USATF signs a significant deal with the primary sponsor of over 50% of the athletes.  In the best case scenario the value of track and field in the United States just doubled.  In the worst case scenario for athletes USATF successfully positioned themselves as a more attractive, more investable asset than any individual athlete.  In a zero sum game that means you’ll  see significant reductions in the average contract value and gross number of sponsorships for athletes or a drop in the investment in meets.   If that does happen, that’s a real paradigm shift in the sponsorship model that reflects the ambitions of the federation.  It will have a direct impact on the profession of track and field from the athletes to the agents and to the independent meets outside nationals, olympic trials, other national team events.

It’s too early to tell if it will be a net positive or negative.  Right now, we don’t know what the long term strategic vision is for USATF.   While we are not the NFL, NHL, NBA or MLB, those leagues do believe in sharing the long-term growth plans even when that information is used against them during collective bargaining.  The respective stakeholders of those leagues may fight for bigger pieces of the pie from time to time, but they appear more concerned with growing the size of the pie.   That’s why billionaire owners will eventually concede to reasonable requests from players even if they kick and scream along the way.  But, we aren’t the NFL, NHL, NBA or MLB.  And we certainly don’t have all the information to make an informed decision.  We are different.

We are more akin to golf and tennis and their models should offer us significant guidance going forward.  Those models showed how when athletes decide to work together, they can build a united profession out of a bunch of independent contractors.  Their respective tours were created when athletes agreed to a code of conduct and qualifications program that allowed the marketing side to license a professional tour of events.  These are separate entities from their respective federations, because what’s best for the federation is not always best for the athletes and the tour.  There are too many conflicts of interest to combine the profession with the amateur.  Those conflicts already exist today, hence why USATF offers athletes a commercial contract to sign prior to acceptance to any team.  Those contracts are presented in a “take it or leave it basis” without any one or collective of athletes being allowed to negotiate any terms on that contract.  So, of course, that contract will reflect the best possible terms for USATF to advance its own mission at all costs.  That’s not capitalism.  That’s imperialism.  And the problem with imperialistic regimes is they tend to favor expansionism and exploitation.  The federation knows that most of the time the athlete has to compete in the major championship in order to maximize earnings (or for to make any money at all).  Kind of reads like a quote from “The Art of War.”