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When Records Don't Matter

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  • When Records Don't Matter

    For several weeks now I've been thinking that the last day in Paris was as about as good a session of track as I can ever remember sitting through. As good say, as that incredible evening in Z├╝rich in '97 when we saw WRs in the 800, steeple and 5K in the span of a couple of hours.

    How can I possibly stack a no-record session up against one like Z had? Competition, my friends, competition. There were 6 track finals in Paris, in the space of about 70 minutes. The difference between gold and silver in those 6 races TOTALLED less than a second (0.97). Three of them were by 0.05 or less. I'll take that over runaway records any day of the week.

    ps--with the era of WRs almost completely behind us, suggest you start coming on board to that way of thinking too or else you're not going to have much to enjoy down the line.

  • #2
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    Gary....I agree with you 100%...it`s the racing thats exciting.....going to the wire. Once in a while I like a runaway but as you said....seeing 4 guys or ladies go to the wire is a thrill.

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    • #3
      Re: When Records Don't Matter

      Although records don't matter as much as they used to, I think we are all disappointed when it becomes a tactical race, in which the 'best' doesn't always win. Times/distances ARE important, which is why the PURSUIT of WR's will always be important (not the attaining of) in big meets.

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      • #4
        Re: When Records Don't Matter

        Now if we can only get the TV people to stop putting the WR's on the screen before (and sometimes during) every race. And the same for both TV and PA announcers who think that part of their job is to cite marks that can't possibly be approached in the meet that they are announcing.

        WR's are very rare, and they should not be the focus of fans' attention except in the rare case where there is a declared intention to attack the WR and that declaration is credible. Otherwise, WR's are irrelevant and shouldn't be on anyone's radar screen. Focusing on WR's detracts from what's really exciting--the competition. If you were in Paris, those races blew you away. But if your attention had been directed to the WR's, before, during and/or after the races, you could have been disappointed by races that were classics. And that should not be.

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        • #5
          Re: When Records Don't Matter

          I have pretty much given up on world records. I havn't been to a major invitational since '87 Weltklasse and only 5 WCs. I try to focus on the competition, but I do keep a PR (Personal Viewing?) list, and some feeling of the quality of a meet are reflected in the adjustments to that list. At St Denis, I had only 5 PVs, but I still think that it was a super meet. Championships do that. Both the LJs were statistically inferior, but with the multiple lead changes, they were all one could ask for in a competition. The distance races were a joy. At the time, the 2nd half of the men's 10K was the fastest 5K I had ever seen (of course, they had a running start), and the women's 10K may have been better. Gary, you are right. World records are a happy occurrance, but not the reason to follow, or enjoy the sport.

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          • #6
            Re: When Records Don't Matter

            If you follow shot, discus or javelin, records can't be the reason to follow the sport cause quite possibly those records will stay forever. I make a bold statement, but I think if Barnes had stayed clean, he still would of broken Timmermans WR. He wouldn't have been banned and with his brilliant technique in the early 90's he quite possibly could of got that big throw out that eluded him during his shortened career. Sure it would not of been 80 feet, but it could of been over 23m clean.

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            • #7
              Re: When Records Don't Matter

              >Although records don't matter as much as they
              >used to, I think we are all disappointed when it
              >becomes a tactical race, in which the 'best'
              >doesn't always win. >>

              At the risk of waxing Clintonian, please define "best." As we have seen time and time again (not to pick on poor Ron Clarke, but what a perfect example), being able to run a WR has absolutely zero correlation with being the best racer at the distance. And given how many WRs (running/jumping/throwing) have been the product of perfect conditions, why should we worship these people over true winners?

              For a current analogy, think of De La Hoya vs. Mosely the other night. DLH outpunches him something like 2-1 (great stats), but in the final analysis, who won?

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              • #8
                Re: When Records Don't Matter

                I agree with all that gh says, BUT who didn't enjoy seeing Ron Clarke in full flight, and had he been able to do that in a major championship, the results would have been other-worldly. If we just wanted great competition, we'd be happy at almost every HS and college meet, but I like world-class best and I much prefer the 'possibility' of a world top 10 mark (which is my criteria for greatness now).

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                • #9
                  Re: When Records Don't Matter

                  >Now if we can only get the TV people to stop
                  >putting the WR's on the screen before (and
                  >sometimes during) every race. And the same for
                  >both TV and PA announcers who think that part of
                  >their job is to cite marks that can't possibly be
                  >approached in the meet that they are
                  >announcing.

                  Recently I've noticed US coverage mentions the world leader. They didn't use to do this, so they're getting better. If they could ignore the WR/AR and simply list the World and American leaders plus maybe the meet record then they could give casual observers a frame of reference without over-hyping records. There's no reason they can't do this in the age of information.

                  Someone else mentioned WRs in the throwing events. Women's events are even more extreme. Aside from the marathon, I don't think there's been a women's WR since 1993 (except for the new events of HT, PV and JT). Take out the Chinese and you're looking at a record book even older than that. If WRs were the only thing that mattered, women's track would be totally useless. (But don't start that argument again!)

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                  • #10
                    Re: When Records Don't Matter

                    The problem with world records (on the track at least) is that you have to watch the race and the clock. If the competition is good enough - like the Paris distance races, or the '96 10,000 or the '92 5000, or...(the list is almost endless) that's all that counts. As the editorof the WR progessions book you'd think I'd be more excited about WRs but it's great races or competitions in the field which stand out as memorable

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                    • #11
                      Re: When Records Don't Matter

                      <For a current analogy, think of De La Hoya vs. Mosely the other night. DLH outpunches him something like 2-1 (great stats), but in the final analysis, who won?>

                      That's what is so great about T&F as opposed to boxing, gymnastics, figure skating and other subjectively judged sports. Citius, Altius, Fortius. Love you, guys.
                      "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                      by Thomas Henry Huxley

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                      • #12
                        Re: When Records Don't Matter

                        To each their own... Records are by no means everything that matters, but I feel people here attach too much significance to close finishes. Very often (and no, I'm not suggesting it's a general rule - I could give many examples myself), even at the world stage, the finish is close simply because nobody manages to do anything outstanding. For me, it's generally the landslide victories that make me stand up and say 'wow'. I will take any world/Olympic final with Michael Johnson in it over the Paris 100 final. Or Marion Jones's victory at 100 in Sydney - she set no record in that race, but it was a run that really made my jaw drop.
                        Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne...

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                        • #13
                          Re: When Records Don't Matter

                          Either the records get overhauled, which I can't see happening any time soon, or at some time technology makes advances which favour detection in a big way, over cheating. Although I wouldn't bet against either scenario, neither would I be comfortable putting much money on either of them. So imagine the not terribly improbable case of 50 years from now, with the sport still saddled with a bunch of really really really old records. An entirely different generation of fans, officials and athletes. At some point I think something will give but it may take a long time.

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                          • #14
                            Re: When Records Don't Matter

                            Just like any sport, the competition varies on the day. Football: sometimes it's a defensive battle, sometimes a high-scoring game; baseball: a pitcher's duel, or a slugfest. Fans love both. As a track fan, I'd hope to enjoy both world record-races with one person way out front, and great close races.
                            I'm less pessimistic about world records in the future. These things tend to go in waves. Who could have predicted the current crop of distance records. Maybe I'm naive, but I still have a hard time believing Haile or El G are druggies (please, let's not debate this). The narrowing and end of human advancement has been forecase for some time, and we haven't seen it yet. Not addressing women's records here.

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                            • #15
                              Re: When Records Don't Matter

                              There's no world records in horse racing, and, from my observation, the average horse racing fan doesn't think much about times. Could t & f come to this ? Sure there's competition, and it is about speed, but I like to know how good a winner is compared to past years winners etc.,.

                              The difficulty seems to be that records won't be matched because (I'm assuming) drug testing is now better. J Squire early mentioned that "world leaders" are now being reported. Maybe this could go a step further with "best time since mm/dd/yyyy" or "best time in xxx years" being reported.

                              Horse racing lacks this and is rather boring because it is about winning prizemoney and not much else. Bit like tennis and golf, where you can't watch an event without reporters rattling off the prizemoney earnings. When wealth or winnings become the main criteria used to assess a sportsman, you might as well give up and start watching the Fortune 500 or Richest 100 lists instead.

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