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Sports Economist: Trials Hangover for U.S. Track?

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  • Sports Economist: Trials Hangover for U.S. Track?

    http://thesportseconomist.com/2008/08/t ... -track.htm

    "While I have heard many musings about selection or training of relay teams, housing and training of athletes, and even too much pampering of runners, I have not heard any discussion of maybe the most influential force on U.S. track performance at the Olympics -- the U.S. Trials system. As a fan, I love the trials, in some ways more than the Olympics themselves. They are near sacrosanct both because of the popularity and because of the equity of the qualification based on performance system. Yet, any "comprehensive" discussion of ways to improve U.S. that does not genuinely include the Trials falls short."

    ....

  • #2
    Re: Sports Economist: Trials Hangover for U.S. Track?

    The article has a very flawed premise. He says

    a. "I love the trials, in some ways more than the Olympics themselves. They are near sacrosanct both because of the popularity and because of the equity of the qualification based on performance system.

    but then

    b. "any "comprehensive" discussion of ways to improve U.S. that does not genuinely include the Trials falls short."

    Hellooooooo! The Trials would not be what they are if they were not exactly as they are. ANY change would devalue them and they would not be the awesome thing they are. If you tried to pick it any other way, you would suck the spirit out of the 3-past-the-post, do-or-die, I-don't-care-who-you-are-or-what-you've-done-before, ancient Greek drama that they are now. I've got several really good alternative means of picking a team (the easiest and most obvious GREAT one is to just let me pick the team, DUH!!), but any and all of them would dilute the OT and that would break EVERYONE'S heart.

    Comment


    • #3
      One point; Would Dawn Harper make any committee selected team?

      That's what we miss by changing the trials. A peaking performer, who gets their experience in the trials and comes away with Gold or a medal in the Olympics. Our system has been for years praised as what makes great Olympians. They get tried and tested before the Olympics. Keep it as is the Jamacians won't produce another Bolt for decades. While every Olympics we will have three in the finals. (More opportunities to medal.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Sports Economist: Trials Hangover for U.S. Track?

        Originally posted by Marlow
        Hellooooooo! The Trials would not be what they are if they were not exactly as they are. ANY change would devalue them and they would not be the awesome thing they are. If you tried to pick it any other way, you would suck the spirit out of the 3-past-the-post, do-or-die, I-don't-care-who-you-are-or-what-you've-done-before, ancient Greek drama that they are now.
        His main point was for dropping the number of rounds. That can still be done while keeping the 3-past-the-post rule that everybody loves and hates.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Sports Economist: Trials Hangover for U.S. Track?

          Originally posted by sprintblox
          His main point was for dropping the number of rounds. That can still be done while keeping the 3-past-the-post rule that everybody loves and hates.
          fyi - tafnut never lets what an article says influence what he's already decided to post. Actually, on most occasions it appears he's not even read the article he refers to or links.

          Comment


          • #6
            "Realistically, the Trials are not going away, so what might be some reasonable adjustments? A no-heats, single race system would vastly diminish the strain while retaining the drama and competition. How many times does a guy like Tyson Gay need to show that he is the fastest? Limit the 100m, 110m hurdles, 200m, 400m, and 400m hurdles in the Trials to the 8 or 9 top runners based on times in the last year (or so). The top dozen or so 1500m runners and so on. Does it really diminish the trials to eliminate guys whose best times are not under 10.0? The Trials already uses such a single race system for the 10,000m for the very reason I'm forwarding."

            As I and others have noted before the Trials are too bloated. At most two rounds in the sprints, and finals only in the 1500 and above. Have the meet run 4 or 5 days and get it over with.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Sports Economist: Trials Hangover for U.S. Track?

              Originally posted by marknhj
              Originally posted by sprintblox
              His main point was for dropping the number of rounds. That can still be done while keeping the 3-past-the-post rule that everybody loves and hates.
              fyi - tafnut never lets what an article says influence what he's already decided to post. Actually, on most occasions it appears he's not even read the article he refers to or links.
              hellooooooo ( :wink How is
              A no-heats, single race system would vastly diminish the strain while retaining the drama and competition.
              not an OT-experience-changing thing also??!! Only 8 sprinters get to show up for the 100? That would completely negate what the 'beauty' of the Trials are right now.

              Comment


              • #8
                Part of what makes the Trials different from any other year's Nationals is the expanded fields. Otherwise there could not be a week-long meet, and the larger fields add to media exposure by getting more local sports media to talk about their local athletes (which they would not do for any other years' Nationals).

                In terms of choosing a team, I think the four-day USATF meet might do a better job for the reasons the writer stated. In terms of creating much-needed domestic media exposure, the current Trials setup is the best.

                I've got an idea for an Oly team pre-selection system, but it's very tough. Any current World Record holder or defending World Champ gets on the team in that event if they've already won another event at the Trials. That would have kept Gay from getting hurt this year, and back in '00 it would have kept MJ and Mo Greene from cramping out in the 200.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Conor Dary
                  "....
                  As I and others have noted before the Trials are too bloated. At most two rounds in the sprints, and finals only in the 1500 and above. Have the meet run 4 or 5 days and get it over with.
                  Two huge problems with doing that.

                  1. You take away a huge revenue chunk for USATF.

                  2. (and this is the biggie) you at best halve the amount of positive ink/air that the sport will get domestically and at worst you do far more than halve it because it goes from being a magical experience that captures imaginations to just another track meet.

                  For the overall health of the sport (yes, I'm ignoring the atheltes and the fans here), the "bloated" OT is a godsend.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    For the sprints 100/200 might work with some tracks for 400:

                    Three heats of 9 each, seeded by entry times, adjusted for wind using JRM, including marks in the 2.0 - 3.x range. The top two from each Heat make the Final. The next 18 are seeded into two repechage heats (as in rowing, a last-chance qualifying heat), the winners from each heat and the next fastest also make the 9-lane final. Day 1 has the heat and, later, the repechage heats. Day 2 has the Final (for the 400, more time spacing, of course).

                    This goes only TWO rounds. With three rounds, you could use the repechage heats and add a whole preliminary round which would seed the second round.

                    This is a slightly outside-the-box thinking.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You can go repechage, or as the Soviets did more than once w/ Borzov in their nationals/trials (and as some big invites do if they have 100 heats), you simply seed a few of the top people along to begin with. March Madness's "play-in game" kind of thing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gh
                        Originally posted by Conor Dary
                        "....
                        As I and others have noted before the Trials are too bloated. At most two rounds in the sprints, and finals only in the 1500 and above. Have the meet run 4 or 5 days and get it over with.
                        Two huge problems with doing that.

                        1. You take away a huge revenue chunk for USATF.

                        2. (and this is the biggie) you at best halve the amount of positive ink/air that the sport will get domestically and at worst you do far more than halve it because it goes from being a magical experience that captures imaginations to just another track meet.

                        For the overall health of the sport (yes, I'm ignoring the atheltes and the fans here), the "bloated" OT is a godsend.
                        Yes, yes, we have heard this before and I knew it was coming.

                        As for point two where is all this positive ink/air? In Chicago, even with Phil Hersh covering it (who by the way, wrote the meet was too long and bloated, and could easily be 5 days) it was just a small story each day in the Tribune and that was it. The tv coverage, late at night, was boring for the most part for the few nights I stayed up to watch. The only real news that came out of the trials was Gouchergate and Tyson getting injured. Wow.
                        If you really want positive long lasing ink, your people have to win. Frank Shorter helped boost running back 1972 because he won.

                        As for point one, yes it is a big moneymaker, but that seems a bit shortsighted. Having your stars injured or competing like crap when it counts is hardly a sponsor's dream.

                        Why does it have to be in Hayward Field? I for one would love to go to the trials again, but not when you have to pay for a accommodations for 10 nights, which by the way doesn't help USATF coffers.

                        To me the problem is USATF has found this cash cow and no matter what it does to the sport, well that is the way it is.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There seems to be a dichotomy between current rounds and 'finals' only. In most cases, one round could be cut out with some trimming of the fields but without wholesale pruning. I think that the SC would need rounds, but the 5000 might be feasible with a tougher, but not draconian, standard. Semis would work for the 1500 if they used a waterfall start with 15 or so in the final. The 800 is trickier, but but they run doubles in lanes routinely in GL meets, so it still might be feasible to cut down to two rounds, with a dozen in heats and 9 in the final (there are 9-lane tracks and for the OTs it might be a reasonable requirement. The 400 might be three heats of 9, taking the top 3 in each for a 9-lane final.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Did anyone outside the top 16 seasonal performers made the US Oly team?

                            The field events have only two qualifying flights, top twelve or automatic qualifiers to the finals.

                            Why can't the running events be limited to top 16 (or 18 ) seasonal performances so the first heat is a semi-final, top four each or top four plus fastest fifth place to final. .

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I like the trials the way they are, imperfections and all. There will always be a situation exposing a flaw, regardless of the system.
                              "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                              by Thomas Henry Huxley

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