I agree that the trials are awesome, but I still can't get past the argument as to why should the USA (or Japan) get this special treatment...
It's not special treatment. I knew a few people would say that.
1) The reality is both countries picked their Trials races LONG before the IAAF changed the rules. Japan's race is going to be run in a hot as hell mess on purpose to imitate the . Suguro Osako got hurt and dropped out of Tokyo. So if a 2:06 guy gets third in the Japanese Trials, you don't think he should go to the Olymipcs? By having to hit the standard, you are also messin gup the Trials races which in my mind should be tactical to imitate the Olympics.
2) The IAAF ranking system WAY undervalues the quality of the US and Japanese championships. They would be valued the same as the Ghana national championships which is a joke. We are getting unspecial treatment. The reality is it's much harder to finish top 3 at the US Trials than it is to finish top 10 once in a 2 year period in a world marathon major. The US and Japanese Trials should clearly be valued as the equivalent of a gold label race.
I understand this logic, but I'm confused about the outcry. The IAAF stiffened the A standard. It's now 2:11:30 from 2:19:00 (at the 2016 Olympics). I think we can agree 2:19 is an absolute joke for an Olympic qualifying standard. And I would argue 2:11:30 is fair. So, my argument is the Olympic Trials have NOT changed at all. All that changed is the A standards have stiffened up.
Over the years there have been several athletes who placed top 3 at the track and field Trials and have been left off the team or had to chase the standard in the weeks between the Trials and Olympics or they would have been left off the team. So, if your argument is the new rules changed the Olympic Trials, then that does not reconcile with history where athletes have been left off the team (or had to chase a time) after placing top 3 at the Trials. There is not change.
I know the marathon is unique in that you can't run a marathon every week to chase the standard, but there is ample time and plenty of fast races in the qualifying window to hit the standard. In other words, guys like Jared Ward, Rupp, and any of our top runners don't need to fine tune their training to run 2:11 on a fast course. They should be able to wake up, go to London or Berlin and jog 2:11:10 and come home and keep training.