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“The Youth Athletics Committee has decided that it is in the best interest of USATF’s youth athletes to allow direct advancement into the 2016 USATF Hershey Youth Indoor Championships being conducted at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Athletic Complex without the Zonal Qualifier advancement requirement (with the exception of the Northeast and Host Zones). This decision is being made for calendar year 2016 only.”
 
Are you in the Northeast Zone?  If you are in one these associations, yes you are:
 
·         Adirondack
·         Connecticut
·         Long Island
·         Maine
·         New York #
·         Mid Atlantic
·         New England
·         New Jersey
·         Niagara
·         Three Rivers 
 
What does this mean and how will this affect your athlete?
 
This new rule allows for all registered USATF athletes that are outside of the Northeast zone and the host zone (which is New York), to compete at indoor nationals without having to qualify for the event.  In the zonal (qualifying meet for nationals) only the top six athletes can advance to compete at indoor nationals. 
 
Let’s take a practical example to analyze this.  Athlete A from the Northeast zone wants to participate in indoor nationals.  The athlete typically runs a competitive time for the 400 in their age group, which is typically 60 seconds.  At the ‘zonal (qualifying meet), said Athlete A, runs a 59, places 7th and just misses the mark and does not advance to indoor nationals.
 
Meanwhile, you have Athlete B, in the same age group, that resides outside of the Northeast region, that has in recent events run 65 or even higher in the 400, because of the ‘new rule’,  will be given a red carpet pass to advance directly to indoor nationals.
 
Will Athlete B go to the podium at nationals?  They may or they may not, however the important factor is they will have opportunity to try, while Athlete A will not!
 
This rule is, without question, unfair and as a result, this rule should be immediately amended to either eliminate all qualifiers or to implement the requirement for all athletes to participate in a qualifying event in order to advance to nationals, which was the routine rule, prior to the event being held in NY.
 
This rule was just implemented this week and there has been no formal announcement, however it was quietly posted on the USATF website.
 
What can you do?
 
Make all of your fellow coaches and parents aware of this unfair change and encourage them to send letters demanding for a change.  While you may have an athlete that undoubtedly would qualify despite the new rule, we still need you to campaign for the many athletes that are going to be unfairly affected by this rule, as many will be.  The rule in nutshell allows for some to be handed a free pass to the big stage while clearly stating that others have to work to get there noting that 'it is in the best interests of USATF's youth athletes"!  
 
Why not set a qualifying standard as an alternative if there is a worry about over crowding, rather than creating an unfair practice.  
 
The directory for all USATF Youth contacts is here: