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When Records Don't Matter

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    For whatever it's worth, I agree with Powell above. It's not quite as simple as saying we're for "competition" rather than "records." Records are few & far between. That's precisely why they're remarkable and, quite frankly, anyone that pretends they don't care about seeing records is lying. (It's a sour grapes thing: we rarely see them in the U.S. so, obviously, they can't really be worth seeing.)

    The real issue here isn't about records alone, but the QUALITY of the performance in question. Winning a race is no big deal: every race has a winner. And close finishes, by themselves, are not necessarily that significant: in a race of 8 equally mediocre athletes, it will be a close 8-way finish. So what? I rarely get excited about jog-and-kick races of any kind--and I've seen tons of them. What's most important is that athletes are tested over the FULL distance, not some frantic last fragment of it. Thus, for example, a race like the '84 Oly 5000 rates very high even though it didn't produce a WR: it was fast and intense from the start, everyone in it was tested to their limit. On another thread, someone praised the '83 WC 5000 for being exciting--but in my book, there's absolutely no comparison.

    And, like Powell, I'm thrilled by individual demonstrations of excellence in races that aren't "competitive" in any way. I wouldn't trade my attendance at the '95 Zurich meet for anything, for example.

    True competition at the highest level is a rare and wonderful thing. Competition in lazy or historically inconsequential races is simply business as usual.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    >On betting at meets. There is often low level
    >wagering on various things. I won a euro at St
    >Denys on a placing in the women's marathon. I
    >was really amazed at my 1st commonwealth games at
    >the amount of money changing hands during the
    >sprints, mostly by Caribbean spectators. I
    >understand that fortunes were made (and lost)
    >when Crawford won the 100 at Montreal.

    When the Ohio HS meet was in Ohio Stadium, there was a section where money changed hands on every race. The most entertaining one of the group was a hugely fat man from Dayton who everyone called "Scoreboard" (maybe because he was the size of one). I'm sure the show has gone on, but I don't know where they meet up anymore now that the site has changed.

    My junior year in HS there was a rumor that the fathers of the two top sprinters in town put up $500 on our city championship 100 final. (BTW, my teammate, a future 2x Big East champ, won over the other guy, the defending Ohio champ and a future Heisman finalist.)

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    On betting at meets. There is often low level wagering on various things. I won a euro at St Denys on a placing in the women's marathon. I was really amazed at my 1st commonwealth games at the amount of money changing hands during the sprints, mostly by Caribbean spectators. I understand that fortunes were made (and lost) when Crawford won the 100 at Montreal.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    Oppps!
    I meant I believe the "A" would do better.

    Also, as has been seen in the past, promoting an event with celebrities screws up Joe Q. Public when someone else wins it. "Huh? I watched because they said one of these other two guys were supposed to win...?"

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    Garry is exactly correct. Head to head competition is the best thing about this sport...it's the reason I can go from watching an international 1500m. race under 3:35 to a collegiate race at 3:45 to a high school race above 4:30 and have the same level of enjoyment IF the races are competitive.
    Field events aside here, no fast time trial beats 2+ people battling it out down the stretch.
    This is what Masback/USATF should be selling to the public, first and foremost--a competitive event, and secondly the "celebrities" contesting it.
    Consider, what ad would better get Joe Q. Public's butt into a seat:
    A.- "The Mile...the classic contest of man vs. man...over four laps with breaking the 4-minute barrier as a possible reward...who will be this season's US Mile champion?...it's the Nationals!...see which athlete will come out on top this Saturday in the Beano/US Track & Field Championship!"
    B.- "Gabe Jennings...free spirit runner with a zen approach to his life and his sport...Jason Lunn...his former teammate at Stanford and now arch rival for the US title in the Mile...it's the Nationals!...see these two former allies clash this Saturday at the Beano/US Track & Field Championship!"

    Yes, I put "Mile" there on purpose. Hint, hint.
    I think "B" would work better, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Leave a comment:


  • trackstar
    replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    >How can I
    >possibly stack a no-record session up against one
    >like Z had? Competition, my friends, competition.

    Garry, it almost sounds like you're saying, "Who cares if the times were slow -- the races were close." Forgive me, I realize that's not exactly what you meant, but I think someone who didn't actually watch the WCs could interpret it that way. And that would be completely wrong -- the reason I loved these WCs so much is that not only were the races close, but many of them were FAST, albeit not world records. Sure, the sprints lagged a bit, but let's look at that last day in Paris:

    Catherine Ndereba, marathon, 2:23, championship record
    men's 5K: six sub-13s, including a championship record 12:52.
    women's 1500: Tomashova, 3:58, championship record
    women's 4x4: United States, 3:22, world leader

    and off the track: women's high jump, Cloete, 2.06, world leader.

    And of course, before that last day, the women almost ran a sub-30 in the 10K and the men ran a sub-27 with that stunning sub-13 last half.

    The competitive, close races were great, but let's not sell the times/marks short.

    >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.

    I completely agree, and offer an analogy: What if fans of other sports walked away from record-less competitions feeling they had seen a mediocre competition? What, that Baltimore Raven running back (can't remember the name) didn't break 290 yards again this week? What a rip-off! Hey, no one in that NBA game scored 100 points? Give me my money back!

    It's time for track fans to get real. Records are supposed to be exceptional, not expected. And the likes of Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, and Marion Jones are once-in-a-generation athletes, not once-a-week.

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  • The Flash
    replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    Someone brought up on another thread how "miserable" the WC's were, because of the lack of WR or fast times (particularly the 200). And while the times in the 200 were slow, it is ALL about the competition. It's a race...to see who can be the best in that particular race. Don't get me wrong, fast times are exciting, and WR's are now a few-and-far-between pleasure, but the feel of watching some of the world's best "duke it out" to decide who is the best is some of the best sports action around.

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  • Powell
    replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    There was some betting going on in Munich during the European Champs last year, too.

    Leave a comment:


  • tandfman
    replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    No, but for some major events like the OG, you can bet on certain events in London.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pego
    replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    This never occurred to me. Can you bet on T&F races in Vegas? Not that I would want to, I am sufficiently humbled by my results in T&FN prediction pools.

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  • huh?
    replied
    Re: When Records Don't Matter

    >Horse racing . . .is rather boring because it is about winning prizemoney and not much else.<

    It's not about prize money at all. It's about betting. If there were no betting, nobody would go to the races and there wouldn't be much prize money.

    Leave a comment:


  • BlueCurve
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • miler manque
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • michael lewis
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Powell
    replied
    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.

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