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  • What If They Gave A Track Meet And Nobody Came?

    With USATF in a bit of a turmoil, we decided it might be good to give our longest feature ever a bit of a replay, so you'll now find 16pp of PDF available on the front page. Takes a while to download.

    Nice to see things have changed so much, eh?

  • #2
    wrong predictions

    I noticed that coaches felt the NCAA would have indoor regionals soon, and that all scholarships would be eliminated. Thankfully, the predictors were wrong on both accounts. Can anyone clarify how the NCAA allowed 800 athletes into the meet? I'm assuming that schools paid for their own athletes to attend, but how did the meet run with that many athletes?

    Comment


    • #3
      The good news is that you can take 'Gloomy Chart #1" and toss it, because the USA HS participation numbers are very good. About 550,000 boys and 450,000 girls for a cool million overall. Plus performances continue to climb (almost) across the board, even the 30-year moribund distance stats are looking rosy.

      I like the future of USA T&F, PEDs notwithstanding. It'll NEVER be a Tier 1 (or even 2) sport (again?), but the pipeline is open and putting out good stuff. We just need to do a (much) better job of keeping a good chunk of those million interested in the sport after they hang up the spikes.

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      • #4
        Unfortunately, said Gloomy Gus, participation numbers mean little. It's how many studs are turning out that's key, and I'm guessing there are far fewer than ever before; just far more team filler-outers.

        As we've noted before, the event (at all levels of competition) that may have seen the least change through the years is the long jump. Amazing how far back you can go and still find people with marks that would make them relevant today.

        Applying that to high schools, how about this:

        There have been ten 26-footers in prep history: 1 in the '60s, 2 in the '70s, 6 in the '80s and the last one 17 (!) years ago, in '91. Even 25-footers are hard to find these days and the first prep did that in 1949.

        Of course, that event might be a bit of an extreme example because those with 26-foot skills generally translate very wall to football.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by gh
          Of course, that event might be a bit of an extreme example because those with 26-foot skills generally translate very wall to football.
          The real reason is because, and I apologize to all LJ technicians, it's the easiest event (after the 100) to excel in just on natural ability. After 15 years of coaching the event, I can tell you that after just a month of technical training, my HS freshmen are at 90% of their potential (for their current body). To compare, after a month of technical training, PVers are at 5%, TJers at 20%, hurdlers at 30%, HJers at 50%. The numbers are merely illustrative, but you get my gist - a LJer of 1960 is not at much disadvantage, technically speaking, from one today.

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          • #6
            But my point stands...... the good LJ talent is no longer turning out. How true is that across the board?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by gh
              But my point stands...... the good LJ talent is no longer turning out. How true is that across the board?
              You know how cyclical events are. A couple of years ago we thought that the 1970s distance marks represented the apogee of the event, but then suddenly the distance times plunged again and we are in a renaissance. The same will happen with the LJ, especially at the HS level where the football players still jump. Then, when a couple start popping 26-footers, the event will surge, college will get better and the USA pros as well. You know it will happen, but now we just happen to be at a nadir, so we wring our hands. Have faith - American LJing will reBOUND!

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              • #8
                Garry, this great story from the past is exactly what the magazine is missing now. This story illustrates how the magazine can enlighten and inform if only more space and resources are used to do these types of pieces

                Why don't we see stories like this at least once every other issue?

                Please take this as constructive critcism, nothing more: I find the weakest part of T&FN lies with its feature and enterprise reporting. Next time someone from your magazine interviews a star, please give us less technical stuff and more human interest. To be honest, I don't know that much about Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards and all the rest except that they're very fast (or jump high or jump far, etc.).

                To spend three-fourths of an article (or Q$A) on their speed or strength is a waste of space. Hey we get the message: they're good. Now, what else is there about them?

                The reason why most track and field athletes are under the radar in the sports world is partly because no publication bothers to flush out the interesting part of their life. Look at the recent story that ran (elsewhere) on Jelimo and how her $1 million jackpot is causing her all sorts of grief back in her extremely poor homeland. That brings another question: How do those Kenyans and Ethiopians deal with the sudden wealth, and how do they cope with the economic pressures from their families?

                What about a special report on track and field issues every now and then, especially on the youth level, where so many issues (overbearing coaches, pushy parents, PEDs, recruiting, injuries, etc.) go unreported?

                Again, just some constructive criticism. Carry on.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Marlow
                  Originally posted by gh
                  But my point stands...... the good LJ talent is no longer turning out. How true is that across the board?
                  You know how cyclical events are. A couple of years ago we thought that the 1970s distance marks represented the apogee of the event, but then suddenly the distance times plunged again and we are in a renaissance. The same will happen with the LJ, especially at the HS level where the football players still jump. Then, when a couple start popping 26-footers, the event will surge, college will get better and the USA pros as well. You know it will happen, but now we just happen to be at a nadir, so we wring our hands. Have faith - American LJing will reBOUND!
                  a century of dominating the planet and then falling off the radar for two decades is not a cycle; it's a paradigm change, plain and simple. And there's zero reason to think it will change (unfortunately).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gh
                    Originally posted by Marlow
                    Originally posted by gh
                    But my point stands...... the good LJ talent is no longer turning out. How true is that across the board?
                    You know how cyclical events are. A couple of years ago we thought that the 1970s distance marks represented the apogee of the event, but then suddenly the distance times plunged again and we are in a renaissance. The same will happen with the LJ, especially at the HS level where the football players still jump. Then, when a couple start popping 26-footers, the event will surge, college will get better and the USA pros as well. You know it will happen, but now we just happen to be at a nadir, so we wring our hands. Have faith - American LJing will reBOUND!
                    a century of dominating the planet and then falling off the radar for two decades is not a cycle; it's a paradigm change, plain and simple. And there's zero reason to think it will change (unfortunately).
                    WE OWNED the Pole Vault (and 110H) for forever and then lost it and then found it and then lost it and then found it and then . . .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      None of which describes the long jump. Two separate actions, with no repeat, does not constitute a cycle.

                      Nor do your 110H and PV examples hold water.... there's a big difference between a cycle and random activity.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by "gh
                        a century of dominating the planet and then falling off the radar for two decades is not a cycle; it's a paradigm change, plain and simple. And there's zero reason to think it will change (unfortunately).
                        Think gh is confusing HS results with international results. Phillips dominated world as recently as 2005, and Pate, Stringfellow, and Johnson have supplied depth to the world scene this millenium. So we haven't been falling off the radar for 20 years, maybe just 3. We're not as deep as before, and we don't have 27-28 footers like Walder and Starks who couldn't make our teams. But the level of LJ performances worldwide has fallen, too, as Marlow pointed out. Garry is correct, however, in pointing out that HS marks have fallen. But, playing devil's advocate, of the all-time HS top-10, the 26 footers (Dion Bentley, Sheddric Fields, Carl Lewis, Charles Smith, James Stallworth, Ken Duncan, Todd Trimble, Jerry Proctor, Joe Richardson, Johnny Cleveland), only Lewis had a notable (x infinity) international career. Proctor and Stallworth had reasonably decent years after HS, and the rest were never really heard from again. If you look at top 25, you'll see the same pattern. Point is high school studs in LJ have always been mostly guys with lots of natural talent who either never had the grades to get to college or else the discipline to succeed outside of the college scene. It may well be the event with the least analagous results from HS to the international scene, at least in the events where U.S. is competitive internationally.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jim Rorick
                          Think gh is confusing HS results with international results. . . But the level of LJ performances worldwide has fallen, too, as Marlow pointed out. Garry is correct, however, in pointing out that HS marks have fallen
                          I think the waters have been sufficiently muddied for me to restate my thesis:

                          T&F event performances run in cycles. Finnish and British distance; eastern Euro Jav and Hammer, Scandinavian jumping, etc. The USA is no different. We used to dominate the sprints, then we didn't, then we did, now we don't. Same for hurdles, same for jumps, same for SP/DT/Dec. We're in an uptick in the mSP right now (this year's OG notwithstanding). Just a couple of years ago the 200 was all ours. The LJ is indeed an American dominated event. Right now, not so much. But . . . we will dominate it again in the mid-range future . . . for awhile . . . then not again. Same with hurdles, sprints, other jumps (yes, even HJ and TJ). By dominance I mean that the USA will be considered #1 in the event. I do not see that happening ever again in the distances, so those events can be the exception to the Marlow Rule:

                          It is the nature of American T&F that we shall excel in most events in a cyclical nature, such that one event may seem down and out (gh's stance on LJ), but it will eventually auto-correct to be #1 again.

                          I draw your attention to the fact that everyone had given up on Ami mHTers, yet look at the junior results last year and see not 1, but 2 near the top.

                          As for rumors of the demise of certain USA events, they are exaggerated - this too shall pass . . .

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                          • #14
                            And I'll restate my thesis from the top, since it was the first one that got corrupted. Marlow says that huge HS participation numbers mean there's no problem. My position is a suspicion that the numbers are illusory because the caliber of people turning out has fallen. And while I can't come up with good numbers for other events easily, the men's LJ quality has fallen off by a stunning amount. At the HS level. That's all I was saying. And it's not a "cycle" of any sort. It's a harsh downturn, by any measure. And that should be a cause for monstrous concern.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gh
                              And I'll restate my thesis from the top, since it was the first one that got corrupted. Marlow says that huge HS participation numbers mean there's no problem. My position is a suspicion that the numbers are illusory because the caliber of people turning out has fallen. And while I can't come up with good numbers for other events easily, the men's LJ quality has fallen off by a stunning amount. At the HS level. That's all I was saying. And it's not a "cycle" of any sort. It's a harsh downturn, by any measure. And that should be a cause for monstrous concern.
                              I buy all of that except I really don't think that the 'caliber of people' has changed at all. Granted that AFTER HS, great tracksters are giving up T&F in college because of the financial allure of other sports, but the numbers are good, and genetics hasn't changed, so we're looking at 'other factors' to account for the LJ's current plight. These other factors could even be random chance. Looking at the all-time bLJ list (top 30 performers), we see the following

                              00s - 2
                              90s - 6
                              80s - 12
                              70s - 7
                              60s - 2

                              What a nice neat bell curve centered in the 80s. Sure looks dire, doesn't it? But if we had looked at the 2-mile numbers just a couple of years ago, we would have seen the curve centered in the 70s (!), but now there is indeed a great resurgence.

                              The Long Jump will come back 'soon'. It's just the nature of the T&F Beast.

                              oh, and to address mLJ at the Ami elite level - once we get a few great HS LJers again and the current trend is reversed, you will see a 'trickle-up' effect ( :wink: ) in college and then the elites.

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