Posted January 9, 2002


Responses to Ross Dunton's 2001 masters survey

By Ken Stone

In 2001, webmaster and masters coach Ross Dunton of Tennessee posted a questionnaire online dealing with several important issues in masters track.  Below are the results from his last compilation of answers.  

Following are the responses from 113 athletes to my "masters t&f/athletics" survey. Some athletes did not respond to all of the questions, so the numbers do not always add up to 105. 

24 YES, 86 NO

32 YES, 77 NO

8 YES, 91 NO

5 YES, 14 NO


61 YES, 45 NO







71 YES, 23 NO


66 YES, 26 NO


62 YES, 29 NO


64 YES, 26 NO


43 YES, 21 NO

Responses to the question: What do you believe could/should be done to encourage more people to compete in masters t&f/athletics? 

Membership & entry fees should be tax deductible as they will lower the medical expenditure of government if more seniors are fit and healthy.

publicity, exposure, support small local meets

assign PR responsibilities to one individual in each association - work the media

Better availability of coaching and practice venues. Given that, more local meets and publicity (useless to raise interest if you can't find a place to practice)

Feature stories about the regular folk not just world beaters

More local clubs to help people train and travel together.

better communication and availability of venues for competing

They have to see that the average person with grandchildren, full time jobs, and limited time schedules can still compete without being an elite athlete and have lots of fun doing it. 

provide more competition on the local level plus clinics

More publicity

get the word out that Masters Track exist.....Established people in the world of Maters Track & Field just assume anyone interested knows about them.....NOT TRUE

Get more publicity by association with the elite program.

get the word out. I'll venture that a lot of people aren't even aware that there are masters track meets

Encourage younger T&F athletes to compete in MTF - thus reducing age requirement. I don't think you need you need some kind of big independent advertising thing. I think incorporating the organizations that already service
mid-older folks can work. Keep the general publics awareness up about the benefits of exercise. Help the open/post college athlete transition to masters track by having clubs that have all ages competing...more like the European format.

More publicity.

Combine very short running events (i.e. 400m through 1 mile) into road race events as secondary events.

Meets should analyze their competitors. They should group athletes by expertise so as not to embarrass new or less talented athletes. There could be exhibition (or noncompetitive) events in every meet to encourage experimentation and a change to try track and field in a less threatening atmosphere. Promotion through
organizations such as AARP would be a natural, also perhaps through other "senior oriented" organizations. We must get to the point where we can afford to pay professionals to grow our sport through effective marketing. We cannot continue to have our sport run by volunteers who are "caretakers" instead of "builders".

Promote the rank and file master's T&F athletes, not focusing on just the "world class" or over 95 age set. This gives a distorted view of the typical man and woman who participate. 

Publicity, more meets in more places.

Need more public awareness; more masters competitions within open t&f meets and features with more masters athletes in media/magazines; also local news reports on local athletes for grass roots development; Local/regional road races are popular & successful--they support charities/non-profit organizations and welcome participation by people at all levels of abilities & fitness; Work toward broader audience, i.e. appeal of healthy, fit mature athlete is a natural for people in their 50's, 60's and up--yet there are only golfers and gardeners (yawn) shown. Develop a strategic plan for marketing to potential participants and sponsors. Hire a
marketing consultant and track growth/improvement.

get the word out that it exists, like road races.

more recruitment on an individual basis

We should look at related sports to see how they attract more people. Usually, it by benefiting others with a charitable purpose (which helps attract volunteer and sponsors) and by providing a "fun" experience. Also, the events should be more oriented to how people actually live now - e.g. corporate and regional relay teams instead of the single "rugged individual" competitor.

Need to get a better way to publicize events, especially across regions. WWW is good, but other media (TV, radio, newspapers) would be helpful. If people read some stories about masters t&f athletes, some might be encouraged to come out of "retirement" to compete again.

Target coaches athletic directors that have the facilities, they should be the impetus for the advancement of alumni and masters track.

More publicity in mainstream media. It is difficult to find meets initially unless you know people or where to look--even if you know where to look, sometimes it is difficult to find information on meets.

more publicity in local media

More masters meets with more promotion.

More publicity, more marketing

bringing the TV

At local meets let anybody run, any age. In sparsely populated areas, work with High Schools and colleges. We've worked with our University to have some events

provide lists of times and locations for informal group workouts by State. This would allow athletes to meet each other, and ease into competition with good preparation.

I would encourage people to try it, probably best done at all-comers meets. The first time at an all-comers meet (or any meet) can be daunting.

Expose it more in senior homes and events, magazines, etc

My answer is two fold, which answers the next question- One, encourage more people to compete in the masters and two, raise money for high school and college programs. The problem with master in my area there is now where to practice the skill events like High jumping and pole vaulting. Also there is no coaching is
available. What should be done is the local track team offer a master season. It would work like this: The season would be during near or at end of high school track where for 1 month twice a week the coaches would have practice with the standards and other equipment that not available to the public. Also coaches could coach the masters that want it at practice. The season would end with a meet on a weekend. For example a potential master may want to throw the javelin but he is not going to go out and buy one. Now if he participate in a season and after a month and meet he may enjoy it and buy one. The Master would have pay the local track team to participate in the season

better marketing-awareness of programs

Much more publicity, Use certified, modern tracks, Use certified officials and pay them.

sorry; no ideas

More awareness and publications on the subject. More advertising. More meets.

Higher quality competitions (i.e., some elite races with entry standards and prize money). Public interest in track needs "stars." At present there is no reason for a Steve Scott to show up at a masters race--and he doesn't. I don't either unless there are no open meets at the time. 

More promotion and advertising and in the UK integration into the established club structure, may be all clubs should have a vets section who compete against each other. Possibly sections ages 30+ and not 35 an 40

Many people have no idea masters track and field exists at all. There needs to be much more publicity at the local, regional, and national levels. Our local group has gotten good publicity from Cleveland area newspapers when we have been able to put out press releases, but it is difficult to find the time to compile statistics, write
releases and get them out to the press in a timely manner. It also seems to me that if beach volleyball, the "X" games, and little league baseball are worthy of national news coverage and sponsorship, masters track and field should be getting a decent amount of air time. It's all a matter of selling it to the networks. At the national
level, we could really use some good public relations people and media consultants.

A change leadership in TN USATF

Training group that meet on a regular basis. Basic clinics that are fun and educational.

Provide a better club system

Training facilities. It's very difficult to find places to train, especially for field events.

More publicity from the national office and from local associations. Better Web sites from national and world associations.

More news about masters (individuals, teams and competition) in the media.

More people would compete if there was some type of monetary rewards

A PR person in each association. Prize money from a few key sponsors. Expand sub-masters "class" to anyone over 19 no longer having collegiate eligibility.

More exposure by USATF (more emphasis on their Masters web page and links to and the Yahoo group).

Advertise more........don't make it such a secret

Have national clubs so that people who live out of areas can have camaraderie, have relays, and be with like minded people. Good competition and exposure. Many elite athletes do not compete in Masters competitions when able to unless there is good exposure or $. Too often they will quit competing if there is no motivation to keep an elite mind-set. I think this is tragic, as there are some awesome athletes who take their training and racing seriously and do not have the support of T&F to keep on at the masters level. The sport is losing out and I
think this could be a great way to get more focus on the sport and possibly some sponsorship. There are a lot of 40 and over people out there who spend $. In Europe veterans are serious and yet have a great time. People can belong to a club on the opposite side of the country even if they have a club next door. They are free to choose!!!

Not many people know about it. Maybe promote at and with road races, or even stage a meet in conjunction with a road race. Road racing and track and field should work together, not compete with one another.

1. Drop the age to 30 for m/w
2. Drop the entrance fee and size of medals
3. Support summer all-comers meets

Presence and sponsorship in more nationally ranked meets. IE. Mt Sac Relays always has a highlighted Masters 100 and 200. The crowd loves to see us old guys run and the masters athletes look forward to running against the nations or regionals best. It helps to promote the sport and the value of staying fit as one matures.

I don't know. Somehow we need to be better at letting the public know that masters track is out there. Most people don't even know that we exist.

Finding the right publicity vehicles might help

More newspaper and TV coverage to inspire the more mature athlete. My participation has inspired several people to either exercise more or start training for competition.

Make it clear that this is NOT "Howard Cosell sports". No money, no media, no problems. Sportsmanship flourishes in the absence of "coverage".

More coverage. And more sponsors.

Greater exposure, more publicity, and sponsors. There are a lot of corporation making money off of the Master athlete/aging population how about getting them to sponsor an event and then get them to publicize it through the product

Not sure this should be an objective

Get more cross-over from road racers. Thousands run 5K on roads, maybe 4 in a local masters track meet.

Responses to the question: What proposal would you make to help raise more money to fund t&f/athletics?

Government grants - spending some money now will save them a lot of money later in medical care later not much, unless we get more former stars to compete, more PR (per above), skillful marketing to corporate sponsors by real experts at USATF level.

Require public (tax-supported) HS and colleges to allow the public to use their facilities (not exactly what you asked). I don't think lack of money is the principal problem so much as that it is used inefficiently (tons of money spent on HS and college teams to no real purpose as often the coaching expertise is lacking, and an extreme lack of opportunities for anyone not a HS or college student

I'm not sure more money is needed.

Often, it is the "very good" athlete, not the elite athlete who pursues Masters competition. Many athletes "give up" their T&F careers after high school to dedicate themselves to college, family, business etc. Bringing these folks back into the fold could be done through grass roots efforts at the local level, but awareness via national magazines and sponsorship would help. Of course, names from the sport are also a good draw. With publicity for an event and a "clinic" given by a renowned athlete could bolster attendance as well as bring in folks to the
clinic who might not otherwise attend. Bottom line is communication

The only think I can think of right now would be to charge more for entry fees. I will give this some more thought and email you if I think of something.

I've done this for years -- set up a trust fund

Don't have one.

Seek Major corporate sponsorship of individuals, relay teams, club teams, etc.

I have made one by forming integrated elite/masters clubs which would attract a broader range of sponsors such as is true for the Senior Sports people.

Expanding the age range could attract sponsorships due to a wider audience.

I don't know

Raffle for track equipment.

Hire professional marketing/promotion people to get this thing organized and on the move. We must get USATF to decide once and for all--do they want us, or don't they. If they want us, they'll start funding separate marketing person/people for the Masters division. If they don't want us, they should cut off our meager budget
and let us make it on our own. Personally, I believe this is the direction we should phase into within the next 3 years.

I think T&F should be self-supporting through our own contributions.

As much as I don't like big companies, perhaps we can get sponsors. Maybe under the auspices of Surgeon General or some other appropriate national agency, perhaps we can lobby for financial support on the basis of the physical and mental benefits provided by sports in general and/or Master Sports.

Secure sponsors with events; have proceeds (however small at first) help support charities/non-profit and publicize this; masters who cannot attend can still contribute to support the event and charity; Hire development staff with corporate experience to help plan and manage events.


continue to support the surcharges at national meets for masters

I've previously volunteered to start a non-profit to attract small sums from individuals; but that got no interest as many must think t&f can win the lottery and the other difficulty is that USAT&F has a large debt & is still losing money so they don't favor any competition for funds - perhaps that why the "planned giving program" has been slow to start (I suspect relatives & sharp lawyers will dissuade most people from leaving a large chunk of money to T&F).

I hate to say this, but I think corporate sponsorship is the best way to infuse a lot of money into the sport. I don't want to see masters t&f become commercialized, but I think corporate sponsorship would be most effective. 

Perhaps a long-term contract would work. Perhaps a regularly featured program on espn or espn2 similar to Saucony's Running and Racing might also help.

Calendar with masters track and field athletes

The sport needs more television coverage and better promotion of the sport and athletes at the local and national levels. With all the cable sports channels, certainly there is time and space for masters track and field if there is time and sponsors available to televise beach volleyball and the X games. Television contracts and
sponsorship would bring money.

Sponsorship from aging related products and services.

Money is going to be tighter for awhile now. I wish I could think of something wonderful to raise $ for T & F, I hope you get some real bright brainers answering this.

Much more marketing done by recognized athletic companies, stage more meets and races as fund-raiser events (such as the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco) Stage workshops/clinics, etc. as fund-raisers to involve more large companies as sponsors

Raise rates, but that discourages participation. Some times State USA T&F org. should permit participation without a membership, get them started.

The emphasis should be on a website that any athlete can input info regarding time and location of group workouts (2 or more) that any other athlete could access. Like meet schedules exist on websites now. Also, an athlete could input that they are looking for others to work out with in a particular area. The opportunity for an
occasional group workout will produce better athletes, more entries, and better performances.

It needs to be promoted first, then you can go out and ask for funds. By way of a newsletter asking first for donations.

tough question

Donations from city governments.

Look at top-tier road races like Carlsbad. Higher quality competition brings more sponsorship money 

Sponsorship deals promotional activities linking to sources of money - lottery funding links to health promotion etc

Television sponsorship brings in money to other sports--why not masters track and field? Publicity, in turn, brings people to meets who buy merchandise and pay entry fees. A decent program. Nor a last minute event with registration forms. TN USAFT is the most mismanaged program I have ever experienced. A 10 year old child could do a better job of management. TN USATF is an embarrassment!!!

None. It should be done by people who are ready to ditch the money at this level.

Integrate masters clubs with open/elite clubs to broaden the demographics used to attract sponsors.

Start some type of nonprofit business, similar to what Paul Newman did, with his Newman's Own brand. It won't be easy, and I don't know what product to sell, but maybe someone could brain storm.

Go to well-known rich masters (or former masters athletes), such as ex-L.A. Times Publisher Otis Chandler, and ASK for an endowment.

First, motivate the athletes to contribute to promotion of the sport. Second, go out and get sponsors, but sponsors expect to see numbers. We need to raise the awareness to build up our numbers.

sponsorship or increased fees

Marketing Masters athletes as "healthy lifestyle" images for corporate PR/advertising.

Develop sponsorships, more elite attitude, bigger club competitions

See above. Working in tandem with road race could raise awareness, which would result in more sponsorship opportunities.

Sell tickets to nude masters Olympics

Advertising Sponsorship through major corporations.

Exposure, exposure, exposure.

Finding sponsors seems to be the way to provide the most support for time invested

More sponsorship with major sporting good companies.

Ask for optional contributions to an "Athletes' Fund" at every event registration. Use it to fund travel for less affluent competitors. What else do you need money for?

Sponsors from large companies.

does it need more funding? why?

Responses to the question: To make WMA and/or your national association more effective, what changes do you propose?

at the national level, I would focus on the masters committee and fundraising, marketing and promotion. I would get more people involved in committee work who have special talents and interest, e.g. fundraising, marketing. 

We may need to hire professionals on an incentive contract.

The national assoc. is run by a few who usually do not represent the majority of members on issues. All members should have an opportunity to vote without attending the national meeting. The meetings during the indoor and outdoor championships should be held when the athletes are not competing. Make the national organization athlete friendly, since that is suppose to be why it exists. The birthday rule should be changed so that your age reflects your first day of competition not the first day of the meet.

Perhaps publish a typical periodized training program for each event, eg, 100 metres etc. I have been buying books and copying bit and pieces etc trying to get a reasonably definitive program together but the information is so fragmented and most books are aimed at either elite young athletes or seniors who want a brisk walk in the park but nothing for the elite / serious veteran athlete. I am already on your mailing list, thank you.

no idea

Don't have any

When I was competing I got very upset at how poorly throwers were often treated at meets (i.e. we had to throw from rings and cages which were not 'up to code', sometimes our venues were completely separate). The crowning glory was when two national meets were held at Michigan State which had no hammer circle/cage at all! I don't know if this is still happening since I haven't competed for several years. So I guess the suggestion is to treat all the athletes seriously and give them accurate information about the quality of the venue--we do pay our own way and use our own vacation time to get there, after all.

I would also like to see more emphasis on meeting standards of achievement rather than giving medals just for showing up (in many events and age groups winning marks at the national level are embarrassingly poor) but I know I am in the minority on this.

I don't know that much about the present state of affairs with these associations. I have no particular complaints about their current work.

To be more strict on those that use drugs. I would be willing to pay more for entry fees if I knew the money would go towards tighter drug controls. Make the people that use drugs pay a lot of money to get back into competition.

Do not have answer

More opportunity for input from individuals..

The representation and budgeting should reflect the proportion of masters to elite in the membership. This is particularly true in the USA.

Increase interaction between MTF athletes and the respective officials

Direct voting for members. Letting members bring issues to bear on the National conventions in a more direct and simple way. Making changes in the drug testing rules to reflect age/gender differences that should also reflect level of competition

More current, up-to-date literature.

Whatever money is brought into WMA and/or USATF should be given back to the officials and other volunteers who make our sport happen. The athletes should also be provided with "limited" assistance in the form of better communication, better meets (this will happen when the officials/volunteers are given some compensation and more recognition (a paid national publicity chair--maybe the promotion chair?). In any event, all the dues, etc. should not be going back into "care taking" (i.e. administrative staffs).

No ideas at present

Better communication and responsiveness. The officers of these organizations need to be made aware that their organization exists to serve us, and without us, they would have no function and use.

not enough experience to evaluate

better attendance at the conventions, especially for those who live close by.

Attending one national convention brought home the point that any change will be difficult as the 57+ regional associations run the organization - so everything needs to be worked through a regional association - they have the overwhelming majority of votes with 57 reps to 8-10 Master's officials + 20 or so athletes.

I don't have any bright ideas here. Perhaps an on-line forum sponsored by them would be helpful to get a good dialogue going.

Organize and facilitate the relationship with colleges and school coaches and facilities try to centralize games. Cut prices to enter, hold on as few days as possible hold in small town.

More publicity. many masters athletes do not know the extensive schedule (marathon, XC besides T & F) that are offered. Although I (and a woman I started coaching) are the only masters track athletes in this area, Central Oregon, as editor of our local club newsletter, I take every opportunity to publicize WMA and all masters T & F meets -- which are all 2 1/2 to 3 hrs drive for us. I am hoping to encourage more women to participate.

to involve more large companies as sponsors

Send information about the National Track & Field program to senior citizen all over America. Maybe through AARP.

People need to stop complaining and be positive.

Pay the association officers.

sorry; no ideas

Don't have any at this time.

More professional staff. Track needs to dump its amateur "old boy network."

more consideration for masters athletes

recruitment of younger professionals to bring their knowledge and expertise into the arena 

as above, recruitment of younger professionals to bring their knowledge and expertise into the arena

Getting some public relations people on board who do sports promotion and have a love for track and field. They need to change leadership and get someone who can lead and manage.

Decentralize the organisation. There's nothing more depressing to know that a bunch of people living hundreds/thousands of km is deciding for everybody.
I have submitted a proposal describing this. It is being considered.

Direct online and mail votes on critical issues. Direct voting for executive committee members rather than only at a national convention. Better Web sites -- sharing much more information on issues, agendas and other concerns.

I liked WAVA. I'm not so sure about WMA. Maybe we should start over from scratch!

Work with NSGA and their extensive contacts and know-how in developing sponsors. Shift some of USATF budget from elite/Olympic athletes to masters.

treat athletes more like elite athletes, and not just as weekend racers

Put competent runners in charge, people who will serve member needs over political agendas. Just keep pumping the information out in a timely manner.

Open up relays at the Nationals. The relay competition as it is, is a joke. Allow National Clubs to compete. 

Many associations and regions are sparsely populated with masters athletes. Unlike the East and West Coast many of these people rarely get the opportunity to compete in relays due to lack of athletes in their age groups. Allowing National clubs will open up opportunities for these athletes and make competition more exciting.

the current associations are doing a fine job.

Schedule the meets at the end of summer/autumn. During the summer months of August it just too hot. It becomes more of a survival competition. You are consumed with beating the heat.

There is a saying that, "The reason battles in academia are so fierce is that the stakes are so low." This is doubly true for MTF. Why do some people act as if they were defending valuable turf? The only reason we are here is to have fun and see how well we can do. There is no money in MTF. There is no glory in MTF. There is not fame in MTF. All the petty bureaucrats and would-be dictators should go elsewhere -- like to Hell.

greater interaction at the local level with the association. More inter association or regional rivalries. For example: New Jersey challenges Long Island to a meet each year, one year in NY one in NJ and at this meet points are scored for those from LI and points for NJ the one with the most 1st place points at the end of the
meet wins the "state cup" for that year. Ohio and Pennsylvania could do it or WVA and VA or NE, NYC and Long Island or Boston and NYC etc. 

Help with stronger focus at regional and association level. That will lead to growth at national level. better communications from leadership. Involvement of more people. Ignite a fire under participants to get involved rather than wait to be served.

Ross Dunton