Each March, the International Olympic Committee announces the make-up of its various committees. The 2011 list contains two notable newcomers, and for those who are looking to see tangible signs in relations between the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee the IOC 2011 commissions list offers evidence that the USOC's go-slow approach to building bridges may be proving fruitful.
There on page 27 of the 30-page document: Larry Probst, a new member of the IOC's international relations committee. Probst is of course chairman of the USOC's board of directors.
And there on page 11: Scott Blackmun, the USOC's chief executive officer, has joined the IOC's marketing commission -- which, given the financial tensions that have strained the relationship over the years between the two entities, is relevant, indeed.
The USOC's strategy since Chicago's unceremonious first-round Oct. 2, 2009, exit in the 2016 Summer Games vote, won by Rio de Janeiro, has been classic Dale Carnegie -- win friends and influence people, the emphasis now on the "winning friends" part. The "influence people" part can come later, whenever that might be. The thing now for the USOC is to again assert itself as a partner in good standing in the movement, to do the right thing without having to be in the bid game.
The announcement Friday doesn't mark the end of the road. Hardly. But it does show the USOC is heading in the right direction. To put it simply and plainly, the commission list makes for IOC recognition of the USOC's efforts all these past months.