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  • On "An Appreciation of Indoor Track and Field"

    Front page article. A bit superficial for those of us who followed track in the early '70s and before. I almost posted a thread recently asking what people are most nostalgic about in track and field, because for me, it would be the days when indoor track meant more than it does today. The despair engendered by the end of Christmas Break was buffered by reading about (if we were lucky enough for the local paper to report the results) the Saskatchewan KC meet, and that could only mean the Sunkist meet wasn't far behind, then the Philadelphia Classic and the SF Examiner Games. The order varied a bit each year, but along would come the Star Maple Leaf meet, the LA Times, and Albuquerque Jaycee. Some weekends would even feature two big meets and one or two lesser ones. (In 1977, Feb 11 saw the Star Maple Leaf in Toronto, Feb 12 the Olympic meet in New York, the USTFF champs in Oklahoma City, the Northeast Ohio K of C meet in Richfield, and the Mason-Dixon Games in Louisville, and Feb 13 the La Presse Invitational in Montreal. Take that, Drake/Penn!) My hometown Mason-Dixon Games often competed with Millrose, but nonetheless this star-eyed kid got to see the likes of Coghlan, Bayi, Walker, Rose, Dixon, Nyambui, Stones, Maxie Parks, Benny Brown, Arnie Robinson, and many others. Still to come were the great Jack In The Box meet, the AAU, and the NCAA. Track was still pretty interesting during January and February. Now, if it wasn't for this Message Board, we'd probably all go crazy this time of year.

    Who's left? Aside from the nationals, only Millrose. Millrose, like some of my 95 year old patients, lamenting the passing of all of their friends before them. "All of them? They've all passed on, except you?" "Yep, doc, it's just me now. I'm the only one left."

  • #2
    Hey, in pulling out a few old issues of TAFNEWS for this, I'm reminded that the Women's Pole Vault may have had it's origin in Louisville, Kentucky (kind of like trying to define the precise origin of baseball). The March 1977 issue lists "Speiker (Va Tech) 8-1/4" as the women's PV winner, and the March 1978 issue closes its Mason-Dixon coverage with, "Speaking of the vault, the meet continued its lonely crusade to instigate the event for women. Raising her own "world record" of 8-1/4 was Virginia Tech's Irene Spieker, with an 8-6 3/4 leap." Maybe Isi and Stuczynski and Dragila can go there for a street comp someday.

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    • #3
      I continue to believe that indoor track more accessible to the fans and if properly marketed would do much better than it has.

      But there needs to be much more emphasis on indoors for HS and college. At the HS level, lose the emphasis on nationals and focus on local meets.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by DrJay
        I'm reminded that the Women's Pole Vault may have had it's origin in Louisville, Kentucky
        Not unless it was before the 1890s, when it was a regular event in the annual competition at Vassar called 'Field Day'.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Dave
          I continue to believe that indoor track more accessible to the fans and if properly marketed would do much better than it has.
          As noted above indoor track was accessible to fans, and was properly marketed and still, like the dinosaurs, it died.

          I still believe the conversion to metric in this country was to track was, like Kennedy's trip to Dallas, a fatal mistake. It's like a whole new sport. I went to my old high school last weekend to watch my niece pole vault and I noticed the 1600 record was 4:19 even though a guy on our team ran 4:16 for a mile back in 1973. Nobody understands metric and they never will.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Conor Dary
            Originally posted by Dave
            I continue to believe that indoor track more accessible to the fans and if properly marketed would do much better than it has.
            As noted above indoor track was accessible to fans, and was properly marketed and still, like the dinosaurs, it died.

            I still believe the conversion to metric in this country was to track was, like Kennedy's trip to Dallas, a fatal mistake. It's like a whole new sport. I went to my old high school last weekend to watch my niece pole vault and I noticed the 1600 record was 4:19 even though a guy on our team ran 4:16 for a mile back in 1973. Nobody understands metric and they never will.
            no question you are correct. Most Americans have no idea if 2.45 is good, but can damned sure appreciate 8' or 6.0 is pretty meaningless, but 19'8" is much more visceral.

            They may be doing better now with 5k and 10k runs, but the rest of it is lost.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dave
              Originally posted by Conor Dary
              Originally posted by Dave
              I continue to believe that indoor track more accessible to the fans and if properly marketed would do much better than it has.
              As noted above indoor track was accessible to fans, and was properly marketed and still, like the dinosaurs, it died.

              I still believe the conversion to metric in this country was to track was, like Kennedy's trip to Dallas, a fatal mistake. It's like a whole new sport. I went to my old high school last weekend to watch my niece pole vault and I noticed the 1600 record was 4:19 even though a guy on our team ran 4:16 for a mile back in 1973. Nobody understands metric and they never will.
              no question you are correct. Most Americans have no idea if 2.45 is good, but can damned sure appreciate 8' or 6.0 is pretty meaningless, but 19'8" is much more visceral.

              They may be doing better now with 5k and 10k runs, but the rest of it is lost.
              *sigh* - not this old chestnut again! We expect the rest of the world to learn English - 1000 times more difficult to master than metric - but we aren't willing to invest a little reciprocal effort in the (much more rational) measurement system everyone else uses.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by berkeley
                Originally posted by Dave
                Originally posted by Conor Dary
                Originally posted by Dave
                I continue to believe that indoor track more accessible to the fans and if properly marketed would do much better than it has.
                As noted above indoor track was accessible to fans, and was properly marketed and still, like the dinosaurs, it died.

                I still believe the conversion to metric in this country was to track was, like Kennedy's trip to Dallas, a fatal mistake. It's like a whole new sport. I went to my old high school last weekend to watch my niece pole vault and I noticed the 1600 record was 4:19 even though a guy on our team ran 4:16 for a mile back in 1973. Nobody understands metric and they never will.
                no question you are correct. Most Americans have no idea if 2.45 is good, but can damned sure appreciate 8' or 6.0 is pretty meaningless, but 19'8" is much more visceral.

                They may be doing better now with 5k and 10k runs, but the rest of it is lost.
                *sigh* - not this old chestnut again! We expect the rest of the world to learn English - 1000 times more difficult to master than metric - but we aren't willing to invest a little reciprocal effort in the (much more rational) measurement system everyone else uses.
                It has nothing to do with teaching the rest of the world yardage. On the international scene of course races would be metric. But on the domestic scene. there was too much of a rush away from miles and so forth. You can teach metrics in schools for eternity and Americans still really only understand feet, yards and miles.

                Comment


                • #9
                  French, German, you name it; all are "more rational" than English... should we switch?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gh
                    French, German, you name it; all are "more rational" than English... should we switch?
                    I would prefer esperanto, or even Latin which is what Newton, Liebniz and his contemporaries wrote in. Quo Vadis?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I remember going to the Toronto Star Games in Maple Leaf Gardens in 1974, plus several other years in the 70s. To think that in Toronto, where there is now absolute zero interest in athletics [reflected in local sports coverage and the utter lack of a single important outdoor meet or a single major stadium] - to think that in 1974 that place was packed to the rafters with excess of 16,000 people, well I was living on another planet, that's for sure. Our home Commonwealth 400 queen Yvonne Saunders, fresh off a victory in Christchurch in 51.67, ran a 600 yards world best of 1;18.4 - that time still impresses me to this day, coming on a wood track smaller than the standard 160 yards; I think it was maybe 140 or 145 meters. Francie Larrieu clashed with Commonwealth champ Canadian Glenda Reiser, and shattered the 1500 world record at 4:12.x. And there was Raelene Boyle zipping to a 5.6 in the 50 yard heats, same time as Canadian Marjorie Bailey who she beat in the final. Also Olympic hurdles champ Annelie Ehrhardt demolishing the 50yards hurdles mark with 6.2, and Irena Szewinska running over 300 meters. What a meet on the women's side! Maybe somebody remembers some of the adrenaline on the men's programme from same meet. Who was that guy named Herb who was dubbed "king of the boards"?
                      Does anyone recall a man setting a world indoor high jump record at this meet = I know I saw Dwight Stones jump there.

                      In later years at same meet I saw Evelyn Ashford, Carl Lewis, Irena Szewinska, Chandra Cheeseborough, Brenda Morehead, Jeannette Bolden, Angela Taylor, Angela Bailey Stephanie Hightower, Jane Frederick, Debbie Brill and many others, it was truly an outstanding place to drop in for a night of great world-class athletics.

                      The idea of something similar happening here now seems absurd. Those were the days.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [quote=Conor Dary]
                        Originally posted by berkeley
                        Originally posted by Dave
                        Originally posted by "Conor Dary":wcwneqvj
                        Originally posted by Dave
                        I continue to believe that indoor track more accessible to the fans and if properly marketed would do much better than it has.
                        As noted above indoor track was accessible to fans, and was properly marketed and still, like the dinosaurs, it died.

                        I still believe the conversion to metric in this country was to track was, like Kennedy's trip to Dallas, a fatal mistake. It's like a whole new sport. I went to my old high school last weekend to watch my niece pole vault and I noticed the 1600 record was 4:19 even though a guy on our team ran 4:16 for a mile back in 1973. Nobody understands metric and they never will.
                        no question you are correct. Most Americans have no idea if 2.45 is good, but can damned sure appreciate 8' or 6.0 is pretty meaningless, but 19'8" is much more visceral.

                        They may be doing better now with 5k and 10k runs, but the rest of it is lost.
                        *sigh* - not this old chestnut again! We expect the rest of the world to learn English - 1000 times more difficult to master than metric - but we aren't willing to invest a little reciprocal effort in the (much more rational) measurement system everyone else uses.
                        It has nothing to do with teaching the rest of the world yardage. On the international scene of course races would be metric. But on the domestic scene. there was too much of a rush away from miles and so forth. You can teach metrics in schools for eternity and Americans still really only understand feet, yards and miles.[/quote:wcwneqvj]

                        I agree it takes time, but certainly not eternity. The Brits (and Aussies, etc.) switched only a generation ago, why not Americans ? Most Brits are still familiar with Imperial measurements, but also with metric. As long as this is perpetuated, promising young American athletes will always have trouble figuring out where their performances stand with respect to the rest of the world.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gh
                          French, German, you name it; all are "more rational" than English... should we switch?
                          Are they ? I'm not sure gender for common nouns, multiple words strung together into one, non-pronunciation of many consonants, etc., makes them more rational than English. We certainly have a lot of irregular verbs and idiosyncratic pronunciations ... but IMHO, the notion of rationality isn't that relevant to a discussion of the merits of languages. The fact is, English has increasingly become the global lingua franca (if you'll excuse the expression), for economic and other reasons, while metric has increasingly become the common currency in the sphere of measurement. We should accept that and move forward. The fact that it is more rational (given the universal use of decimal numbers) is a bonus. It's easier to teach than the reverse would be.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by berkeley
                            *sigh* - not this old chestnut again! We expect the rest of the world to learn English - 1000 times more difficult to master than metric - but we aren't willing to invest a little reciprocal effort in the (much more rational) measurement system everyone else uses.
                            It has nothing to do with the intrinsic "logic" of metric. People learn a new language if, and only if, there is sufficient reason to do so--you know, like helping them earn a living, or get thru school. The average American has precisely NO genuine reason to exert any effort at all in unlearning imperial in order to learn metric. And since track switched itself to that "foreign language," it has willingly let that great, "average" public audience drift away...never to be seen again...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't think it makes a dime's worth of difference whether the measurements are in feet, meters, cubits or hands--most average adults can't visualize a 27' long jump or 18' pole vault anyway. It was the death of the indoor 160y board tracks, and the circuit that follwed them to every corner of the country, that killed local press coverage of track.

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