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Why aren't more track & field athletes also fans?

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  • Why aren't more track & field athletes also fans?

    Judging by some of the recent posts about catching the t&f "virus", nearly everyone on this board has some past experience competing in t&f. So how come more athletes and former athletes don't become fans of the sport?

    My own theory is that it's such an individualistic and egocentric sport that the track & field athlete is only interested in his/her own career. Other theories?

  • #2
    Re: Why aren't more track & field athletes also fans?

    Do you define a fan of the SPORT as being one who has time or interest in this board???? The way some athletes are treated and sometimes trashed on this board. I think it is best that they train and compete and let us wannabe's gossip...

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    • #3
      Re: Why aren't more track & field athletes also fans?

      Amen. Different worlds. (Spectators, PARTICIPANTS)

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      • #4
        Re: Why aren't more track & field athletes also fans?

        I have a friend in the USA with a 3.38,65 1,500m PR (1996 Hengelo) a 1.47 800m and a 3.58 mile best. He has all kinds of stats about every elite USA middle distance runner from 1994-2003. He loves the sport and follows all events enthusiastically. Reminds me of Kurt Schilling from USA baseballs Arizona team.

        You guys also have a Gabe Jennings who once stated that the only event he thought existed in athletics was the 1,500m until he watched an entire track meet in college.

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        • #5
          Good point

          I have found that unlike baseball and football, young runners of high school age particularly in my area, have no interest in the history of their sport or who is doing what..where,
          When I was growing up as a baseball player in junior high and elementary, I could name the entire New York Yankees line up..I still can name the 64 Yankees line up.
          Young distance runners have no knowledge base of their sport and frankly (generally speaking) are not interested.
          As a matter of fact, when you bring up the subject of this, most of the running "guru's" laugh at the thought that there is a knowledge deficit concerning young runners as to the characters and history which gives our sport so much soul (of course I am talking about distance running specifically here)

          Not one runner on our high school team where I am an assistant coach, had ever heard of Jim Ryun, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter or Buddy Edelen.

          Most had heard of Pre, but weren't sure of the particulars, only that it had some relationship with what they were doing.

          The know-it all's who pooh-pooh what I believe is s sever deficiency in the sport, always talk about Daniels books, Noakes books and all these physiological coach books as the way to go.

          But I say this is pointless untill these kids understand where their sport has been and who took it there,,as was pointed out in the documentary about "The Blues" recently,
          "IT'S THE ROOTS THAT MAKE THE FRUITS"

          And most young distance runners have no idea of the sports roots.

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          • #6
            Re: Good point

            >Not one runner on our high school team where I am an assistant coach, had ever heard of Jim Ryun, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter or Buddy Edelen.<

            Have they ever heard of Lyndon Johnson or Gerald Ford? How about John Updike, Artur Rubinstein, Helen Hayes or Jackson Pollock? How many of them read a serious newspaper every day? What do these kids know (or care) about anything that happened before they were born?

            Don't get me started about kids these days. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but the ignorance of so many young people today and, worse, their indifference to this ignorance and its consequences to them and to society, are very depressing.

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            • #7
              Re: Good point

              I think you'll find that no matter what the sport, the majority of the fans--particularly the hard-core ones--were not particularly successful athletes. Track is little different than any other sport in this regard.

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              • #8
                Re: Good point

                "Don't get me started about kids these days. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but the ignorance of so many young people today and, worse, their indifference to this ignorance and its consequences to them and to society, are very depressing."

                This is great stuff. It is EXACTLY what EVERY SINGLE generation says about the next. This is almost word for word what many (most!) adults in the 50's and 60's were saying about us.

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                • #9
                  Re: Good point

                  The reason is that the majority of the coaches that get these people through HS (& college) have no sense of the history of the sport themselves. Many take the T&F job for extra cash, read a few books & call themselves experts while they pine for the football season to return so they can go back to the sport they like and know. These coaches have no involvement outside of their little fiefdom, and pass this disinterest on to all of their athletes.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Good point

                    Track and field needs more fighting like Hockey. There is not enough violence for US spectators.
                    Howabout a Javelin joust

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                    • #11
                      What happens

                      is that many of the young runners that I coach, have nothing to identify with, like I had Mickey mantle, Roger Maris or Joe Pepitone to identify with when i was young and playing baseball.
                      I'll never forget before one practice, two of my guys were all excited about getting practice over with so they could go to Bloomington and meet Bracey White? (or something like that) of IU's basketball team!!
                      Several cross guys run because they or their parents wanted them to do "something"...and they couldn't do anything with a ball.
                      I am certain that if the basketball coach walked up to our small squad of cross country runners and said "I need basketball players" there would be a mass defection.
                      Because the immediate thought that would come to these young minds are visions of "Michael Jordan, Lebron James....
                      When they try to conjure up some sort of inspiration which would motivate them to be better distance runners...they just draw a blank!

                      Forget teaching these guys about mitochondria, HRM's, VO2 and all that stuff...
                      First teach them who Ryun was, Zatopek, Lindgren, Landy, Clarke, Walker, Halberg...

                      Then maybe something would click. We have no young fans, because none of them knows who we are and were.

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                      • #12
                        Re: What happens

                        And when the USA 4x1 wins and tries to celebrate, we smack them down for 'conduct unbecoming.' There are fewer personalities in T&F because we criticize the ones who ARE different - Gabe, Drummond! We need a little more tolerance of the eccentricities in our sport.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Good point

                          "I think you'll find that no matter what the sport, the majority of the fans--particularly the hard-core ones--were not particularly successful athletes. Track is little different than any other sport in this regard."

                          Garry, the point is kind of like stating the obvious, no? Since every sport has fans that hugely outnumber the number of successful athletes, it's bound to be the case. Otherwise a 10.05 would be commonplace and we'd see endless rounds of qualifying for the Olympics starting 2 years before.

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                          • #14
                            Re: What happens

                            Boy, do I agree with Spirit of Lindgren. There IS a great need for a genuine historical understanding of the sport. One of the problems is that t&f is so easily reduced to numbers, with the simplistic implication that numbers = quality. If faster is "obviously" better, why think about a 3:59 miler, a 29:00 10,000 guy, or a 26'8" long jumper when today's records are so far superior? When removed from their historical context, the numbers blind us to the greatness of the leading stars of past eras. In truth, it could be argued that we have much MORE to learn from a 3:59 or 3:51 miler than we do from today's run-of-the-mill 3:47 guys.

                            As a historian and college-level teacher, I can attest to the genuinely dismal cultural/historical knowledge of the current generation. (There are exceptions, of course; I'm talking in generalities.) "We" might have been similarly ignorant 30 years ago, but somehow I doubt it. At least, I think, we had a general respect for history and a sense that it MATTERED. Now, I feel, relatively few young people are genuinely curious about history and consider it a significant part of their lives. Perversely, we're now seeing an inverse relationship between the sheer quntity of "info" available out there and the actual knowledge of today's young. To turn Mies van der Rohe on his head, More is Less.

                            I try to evangelize in the classroom, but I just don't know how much sinks in...

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                            • #15
                              Re: What happens

                              my observation is, the current educational system is more interested in having kids negotiate feeling states than learn how to problem solve.

                              I do stat programming, and we have 11 staff doing related work...it's interesting to see the cultural and educational backgrounds of my associates

                              I'm and Army brat, and was fortunate to go to Army schools overseas. I have a brother who works here to.

                              Also, a guy who's Vietnamese, woman from Poland and Russia..another from germany and a guy from canada and another from argentina...

                              so basically 8 of the 11 are products of educational systems outside the USA proper.

                              In interviewing, it's incredible the overall lack of quality produced within the USA educational system.

                              The 11 are basically technical folk. Project managers and related staff are well educated, articulate folk too.

                              But you'd be surprised the lack of depth of critical problem solving skills. There's a minority of project manager types who have excellent problem solving skills, but they tend to be older than 30.

                              It's incredible the overall quality of critical thinking of those under 30. There are a couple out of about 15 who have good to excellent ability, but the majority are really not too good.

                              It's lile in 6th grade when you had those math word problems...some could do them and many couldn't...

                              well, now, it's a very small minority who can do them..

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