Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

High school track in trouble too?

Collapse

Unconfigured Ad Widget

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • High school track in trouble too?

    Interesting article from the newspaper of my childhood hometown newspaper. Copyright The Rockdale Reporter, reprinted with permission.

    Is high school track vanishing before our very eyes?


    By Bill Martin

    In its heyday, teams from around the state would flock to the Rockdale Relays—it was the place to be if you wanted to show off what you had and compete against the best of the best.

    In 1961, 42 schools invaded Tiger Field for the fourth running of the Relays, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

    A month ago, six teams participated in the Rockdale Relays, its lowest total in history.

    Now, this is nothing against the venerable old track meet or the people who put it on—it’s just the trend these days.

    The question is, are we losing track of track?

    Dwindling numbers and athletic specialization has gutted high school track teams and track meets all over the state.

    Using texastrack.com as a research tool, and examining over 50 track meets from 2008, there could only be a dozen meets found with double digit participants.

    At the Caldwell Relays a week before the Rockdale Relays, there were only five teams present.

    A lot of the races had just Caldwell athletes in them.

    The Cameron Relays, which was cancelled two weeks ago, was scheduled to have eight teams—including Rockdale.

    The Tigers will travel to Lexington Thursday where they will join 10 other squads, which makes it one of the largest track gatherings in the state.

    Second-year Rockdale track coach Brent Hasselbach explains that track has a lot of competition nowadays.

    “Especially in 3A schools, kids do a lot of different things,” he says. “Whether it is other sports, UIL, BPA, JETS or just time to relax, track has a lot to compete with.”

    Two years ago, the Rockdale track team was gutted by the Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition and had to muddle through its own track meet without 15 key performers.

    The girls were unable to defend their own crown with 39 points, the boys fared much worse with 15 points to place ninth out of 11 teams.

    One is a lonely number

    Track can also be a lonely business.

    “Training for track is difficult and a tough sell,” says Hasselbach. “In order to compete with everything else that a kid wants to do, along with some coaches unwillingness to attend Saturday meets, there has been a trend to move meets to the weekdays.”

    That’s another factor—the timing. While most track meets used to be held on two days, now, most are one day affairs and held on Thursday and Friday.

    The days of preliminaries are gone.

    “Therefore, time constraints limit the number of teams that can attend, Hasselbach said. “As far as the missing kids... they often have more than one event scheduled and are forced to choose.”

    “In an ideal world, the Rockdale Relays would be a Saturday meet with 20 teams attending,” he said. “But the last year we hosted the Rockdale Relays on Saturday it was very difficult to find teams to attend. Since moving the
    meet to Friday however, we have had to turn teams away.  

    “I wish we could have a large meet again, but with a six lane track and only a few hours of daylight, there is only so much you can do.”

    He does have a few ideas however.

    “We try to make it possible for our kids in Rockdale to do everything they want to do,” he said. “ Our track, baseball, and softball programs have worked very hard to allow this to happen. Hopefully this will allow track to grow in Rockdale.”

    Hasselbach says the Tiger track team currently has 50 boys and 48 girls on the roster, which makes them an exception.

    “The kids are there but a lot of them only do one event,” he said. “I am working on changing that attitude. I want them to be competitors. I love the kids that come and beg me to run the mile relay. That is starting to happen but we have a ways to go.”

    Hasselbach says the Rockdale Relays are not a candidate for extinction and should be around for a long time to come.

    Losing track
    Meet Teams
    Caldwell Hornet Relays 5
    Cameron Relays 8
    Heart of Texas Relays 6
    San Angelo Relays 8
    Lampasas Badger Relays 8
    Temple Relays 6
    Bryan Viking Relays 12
    Lexington Relays 11
    Elgin Wildcat Relays 10
    Hutto Relays 8
    Silsbee Relays 6
    Leander Relays 10
    Rio Grande Relays 6
    Jarrell Relays 9
    Pflugerville Panther Relays 9
    Ft. Worth Country Day Inv. 8
    "Run fast and keep turning left."

  • #2
    The numbers don't lie. Outdoor track ranks 2nd(barely behind basketball) in girls participation, and 3rd for boys.

    http://www.nfhs.org/web/2008/09/high_sc ... ation.aspx


    With solid growth across the board.

    http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/3/3_1 ... -cro.shtml
    There are no strings on me

    Comment


    • #3
      With so many more facilities across the state compared to just 20 years ago, there's no need for 30+ schools to congregate at one site. Heck, there's 30-odd synthetic tracks just in Austin since every high school & middle school has one.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: High school track in trouble too?

        Originally posted by trackstar
        Using texastrack.com as a research tool, and examining over 50 track meets from 2008, there could only be a dozen meets found with double digit participants.

        That's a really ridiculous way to measure such a thing. A much more accurate way would be to obtain the results of the NFHS participation survey for several different years. It breaks it down by state.

        The 2007-2008 results are here: http://www.nfhs.org/core/contentmanager ... Survey.pdf


        Just doing some quick googling, I found that in 2005 there were 944,901 participants nationwide in high school outdoor track, in 2006, 973,185, in 2007 988, 361, and in 2008 there were 996,341.

        About 2 more seconds of googling found this page: http://www.nfhs.org/custom/participatio ... fault.aspx

        For more historical comparison:
        2000: 886,096 (480,791 boys)
        1995: 791,031 (430,807 boys)
        1990: 714,494 (405,684 boys)
        1985: 800,007 (455,277 boys)
        1980: 907.474 (524,890 boys)
        1974: 967,189 (667,974 boys)
        1970: 623,139 (623,139 boys)

        Comment


        • #5
          Like I said.... :wink:
          There are no strings on me

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: High school track in trouble too?

            Originally posted by polevaultpower
            2008: 996,341
            1990: 714,494
            1974: 967,189
            most interesting . . . we're at an all-time high and growing, but is it cyclic?

            Comment


            • #7
              I think the starting point for this kind of assessment is with school enrollment figures. The rest of the participation figures would tend to build outward from the enrollments, modified by major changes (like Title IX).

              The U.S. has just seen a peak in 2005, and is now on the decline. The build to that 2005 peak was steady from a low in 1990. The 1990 low was the end of the decline from the previous peak of baby boomers reached in 1977, which followed a long progression from the 1950s and before.

              National High School Enrollment (expressed in thousands, from the National Bureau of the Census):
              2007 17,082
              2006 17,149
              2005 17,354
              2004 16,791
              2003 17,062
              2002 16,374
              2001 16,059
              2000 15,770
              1999 15,916
              1998 15,584
              1997 15,793
              1996 15,309
              1995 14,963
              1994 14,616
              1993 13,989
              1992 13,219
              1991 13,010
              1990 12,719
              1989 12,786
              1988 13,093
              1987 13,647
              1986 13,912
              1985 13,979
              1984 13,777
              1983 14,010
              1982 14,123
              1981 14,642
              1980 14,556
              1979 15,116
              1978 15,475
              1977 15,753
              1976 15,742
              1975 15,683
              1974 15,447
              1973 15,347
              1972 15,169
              1971 15,183
              1970 14,715
              1969 14,553
              1968 14,145
              1967 13,790
              1966 13,364
              1965 12,975
              1964 12,812
              1963 12,438
              1962 11,516
              1961 10,959
              1960 10,249
              1959 9,616
              1958 9,482
              1957 8,956
              1956 8,543
              1955 7,961

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cooter Brown
                With so many more facilities across the state compared to just 20 years ago, there's no need for 30+ schools to congregate at one site. Heck, there's 30-odd synthetic tracks just in Austin since every high school & middle school has one.
                That is shocking, living in Toronto, where no high school I know of has a synthetic track [let alone a middle school], and the only synthetic track within 10 miles of the downtown core just opened last year, at the University of Toronto. Usain Bolt will be gracing the facility June 11. The only other two synthetic tracks of which I am aware are at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke and at York University. No wonder Canada sucks at athletics. And believe me, Toronto is a hell of a lot bigger than Austin - in fact, it is bigger than both Dallas and Houston. What a joke.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: High school track in trouble too?

                  Originally posted by Marlow
                  Originally posted by polevaultpower
                  2008: 996,341
                  1990: 714,494
                  1974: 967,189
                  most interesting . . . we're at an all-time high and growing, but is it cyclic?
                  I am too lazy to look it up, but I am guessing a couple things are at play.
                  -This years graduating HS class is the largest in history. Anyone with a kid applying for college has noticed the increased competition
                  -In 1974, there was minimal participation for girls. So, today, with a larger population base and both boys and girls competing, we have a comparable number with 1974. That feels like decline to me.

                  I am of the opinion that we would do better to get HS (probably college as well) back to dual and three way meets for the majority of the competition. Add a relay or two and then you are off to sectional, regional, and state. It might lower the marks but increase interest in competing by a wider group of people.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by skiboo
                    That is shocking, living in Toronto, where no high school I know of has a synthetic track [let alone a middle school], and the only synthetic track within 10 miles of the downtown core just opened last year, at the University of Toronto. Usain Bolt will be gracing the facility June 11. The only other two synthetic tracks of which I am aware are at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke and at York University. No wonder Canada sucks at athletics. And believe me, Toronto is a hell of a lot bigger than Austin - in fact, it is bigger than both Dallas and Houston. What a joke.
                    Only one of the middle school tracks, that I know of, isn't legit...there wasn't enough room for a 400m track so it's like 280m or something crazy like that. I was told there was an ex-UT track guy that was high up in the Austin ISD athletic administration and about 10 years ago he went on a rampage and built all of these tracks in a very short timespan...like 3 years. Interestingly, the middle schools all have double-ended PV runways but AISD doesn't offer pole vaulting in middle school yet...so hopefully that's on the horizon since all small town middle schools do.

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X