In sport, the kick is never far away

One of the
stalwarts of athletics in the Americas, Amadeo Francis, recently demitted office as the Vice President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF, and President of the North American, Central American and Caribbean, NACAC, Area Association of the IAAF.

Francis, who was originally from St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, began his career in athletics as a young athlete competing in the hurdles event for Puerto Rico, where he was a university student. He later became the President of the Puerto Rican Athletics Federation and in 1976, became a member of the IAAF Council.

On the IAAF Council, Francis rose to the position of Vice President. Last week, on Wednesday, 22nd August 2007, the delegates to the IAAF Congress effectively delivered the expected and inevitable ‘kick in the face' as he failed to garner even as much as 100 votes from the 198 delegations represented.

After 31-years on the IAAF, Francis got the shock of his life. Despite having been cautioned that it was coming, and that it appears to have had the complicity of the IAAF President, the NACAC Area Representative and the USA Track and Field Federation, USATF, Francis stubbornly contested for both the Vice Presidency and Individual Membership of the IAAF Council, only to be swept away in a tide driven by an amazing amalgam of collusion in international athletics politics.

Francis' experience is one that has become quite common in the field of sport. Some may even suggest that it is common in leadership.

In sport it is always the case that people must know when to leave the leadership role to others and to read the tide of discontent that eventually and inevitably leads to the ‘kick in the face' that seems to send the leaders into oblivion.