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RunBlogRun Interview with Max Siegel
Max Siegel, CEO, USA Track & Field, Seven Questions from RBR
by Larry Eder
Max Siegel has been CEO of USA Track & Field since May 1, 2012. A seasoned sports and music marketing executive, Max possesses the unique skills needed to move USA Track & Field into a more visible position in the global world of sports and sports entertainment.
2012 was a whirlwind year for Max (actually, six months). An Olympic Games where the US medal haul was 29 track & field medals, including medals in all 4 relays and a 4 x 100m womens relay world record gave the US lots of positive media.
We reached out to Max Siegel yesterday with seven questions, and thanks to Max and Jill Geer, communications director, we received them back by the end of the day. As you can read, Max Siegel does not want USA Track & Field to sit on its laurels. Siegel realizes that the sport will grow only if he can identify the strengths of the sport and communicate them to potential partners. Max Siegel is focused on that endeavor at this time, and we wish him much success.
RBR, # 1. Indoor season is starting off well, with some great performances, your comments on AR from Duane Solomon, Galen Rupps fast mile and Mary Cain’s AR?
Max Siegel: On the elite site, people like Duane and Galen have shown there has been no “Olympic hangover.” Both had major career breakthroughs in London and their early performances show that they have gotten right back to work. Mary Cain’s performances have been spectacular. The margins that she’s beating these old records by is unpredcendented.
RBR, # 2. With 29 Olympic medals, and the variety of medals US won in London, with youth and veterans, how do you see our chances for the Worlds in 2013?
Max Siegel: Our medal goals are always consistent. Mid-20s is a very, very solid performance. Anything above that is very possible if we hit on all cylinders. The number of fourth-place finishes we had in London showed what is possible.
RBR, # 3. You spoke eloquently at the USATF Convention about the sport and your goals for our sport. Where does our sport go now, post-Olympics?
Max Siegel: Since London, we have been focusing on establishing a new business model for the sport, how we control costs and spend and invest money. We are now pushing on the partnership and marketing sides of our business, on everything from sponsorship to membership, and have some exciting announcements coming in the next few months.
RBR, # 4. What is the key theme you want to get across to marketers about the value of track & field?
Max Siegel: I have always been very clear on where our sport’s value lies: We are the only sport that is literally accessible to everyone. A corporate partner can reach any demographic through track and field, and we provide a unique platform to reach those consumers. We are a sport that has athletes who inspire everyone from little kids in the suburbs, to inner-city children to recent immigrants, and everyone in between. We spent the last six months getting a better handle on our own assets and inventory and how we can package and present those assets to potential partners. Companies aren’t looking for brand affinity anymore - at least, not only brand affinity. They are looking for what you can deliver to them and how you can provide a return on their investment. That’s what our proposals are focusing on.
RBR, # 5. What would you tell young parents who are looking for sports to get their children involved with? Why track & field?
Max Siegel: I was not a track athlete growing up but appreciated the sport as a fan. Once I got involved in the Olympic space as an adult, I was personally and truly inspired by the amazing role models our athletes are. Any kid in America can find a role model who “speaks” to them in track and field. More than other sports, it fosters self-esteem and character building, because it is so inclusive an accessible. And it is a great sport to excel in, as people like Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt and Sanya Richards prove every day. It is a sport to participate and be involved in regardless of ability level.
RBR, # 6. What is your favorite memory from London 2012?
Max Siegel: I think my favorite memory is shared by a lot of American fans of track and field - watching the women’s 4x100 relay smash the world record. Especially with all the publicly fueled drama about relays in recent years, to see Tianna, Allyson, Bianca and Carmelita do something completely unexpected and with such ease and grace was amazing.
RBR, # 7. If you could do any event in track & field, which one would you want to excel at?
Max Siegel: I was a baseball player when I was younger, so I would have to say javelin.
Editor’s Note: Max Siegel received a baseball scholarship from Notre Dame, but was injured before his freshman season and was unable to play baseball anymore.