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Track has a PR Problem


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  • Still too many events involved in track & field for a team format. How do you not have all the events that make up track & field, not participate?
    on the road


    • Originally posted by Ned Ryerson
      As for the Women's High Jump, I think it's a major event in Europe. For one, Europeans tend to dominate it. There was a massive poster of Friedrich dominating the exterior of the Nike store in Berlin. Her stock went up massively after ISTAF and I'm sure her celebrity played a major role in that night being sold out.
      When our flight got into Berlin, while we were looking around to find where we were supposed pick up the car, I noticed a couple fairly posters. One was Bolt and Gay, the other Freidrich and Vlasic. After her IStaF win, Ariane did sell tickets.

      The Germans were very supportive of the native athletes. I just wish they didn't have those damn horn :twisted:


      • TV killed small town baseball because it concentrated the spotlight on big city, big stadium, big event teams. In the US, Track and Field are laughably insignificant; what could a magic game-speed 15 yr old care about a the distance a heavy man throws a stupid iron ball or throws a weird disc or some spear-looking thing. All this crap about publicity and exposure is delusion. Track and field is as dead as cliff diving and polar bear wrestling. Nobody cares and nobody is watching. My recommendation would be to split field events off and couple them with indoor gymnastics (the high jump is an indoor gymnastic event- same with many others). After that, I would spot chasing shrinking media network coverage (remember when lMillrose Wanamaker games were respected dress up media affairs?) and instead would circle the wagons of shrinking resources (have you checked the cross country schedule of your local college? they run two non-overnight travel hotel events and then a conference meet.. that's it. there is no money left) into school and club competition. Trust and allow the sport to thrive from its roots and quit chasing ESPN top down geezer old time Wide World of Sports time machine money.


        • Originally posted by Ned Ryerson
          Originally posted by Halfmiler2
          You could either have indivdual owners or central ownership of the league. Both models have been used in other sports. As for coaches, just as with national teams, a team coach would not be getting involved much with athletes individual training. He or she is merely a team representative at the meets. You could even skip having a "coach" and just name a captain instead.
          What makes it a team, then, if the San Antonio Jets have Tyson Gay (trains in Orlando/Dallas), Bernard Lagat (trains in Tucson), Maryam Jusuf Jamal (trains in St. Moritz) and Tatyana Lebedeva (trains in Russia) as their principle stars? They train in different parts of the world, have different coaches, etc. Everyone knows that Phil Jackson is the coach of the Lakers, and he and the rest of the staff together with the players determine the strategy and everyone on the team is concerned with winning each of the 82 games. I don't see how that's transferable to track. In the NCAA system, athletes routinely sacrifice personal ambitions for the sake of points, right? Running an extra relay or event for the team, and everyone's goal is to score as many points for their team at the Championship. But for pros, they are concerned only about themselves. Getting a lower place in an extra race may help the team for points, but it will hurt them in the end-of-year rankings, which will affect their pay.

          And who decides the competition schedule? What if Gay decides that he's just going to run two 400s prior to nationals, which he'll certainly lose to 400m specialists? Or if the meets on the team schedule aren't offering him as much appearance money as others not on the schedule? Why would I want to be apart of a team that's going to severely limit my income?

          And how many meets? Many of these guys don't usually have more than three serious efforts before the US Championships, then it's off to Europe.

          What about uniforms? All these guys sign contracts which say they must appear in their sponsor's gear at all times with the exception of Olympic, World and Continental/free association championships?
          1. I already suggested a five meet schedule plus a championship meet for teams that make it. The athletes sign a contract to do 5 or 6 meets in their event. Yeah, they wouldn't get the Tyson Gays but they don't get them much now indoors anyway. Most of the athletes who want to do indoors now would agree to the terms. You'd probably get mostly the up and comers and post-collegians trying to earn some money. It's basically that or no indoor circuit at all.

          2. Yeah, the teams would be a loose knit bunch - just like national teams are already.

          3 . I'll bet they could get the shoe companies to add another exception for the team uniforms - especially if there are opportunities for the shoe companies in a new league. Worst case, you let each athlete add a small shoe company logo to his or her uniform.

          4. As for the relay, have a co-ed one (something different) at the end of the meet. Write in the contract of the 400 & 800 meter runners that they double back for a 4x400 at the end of the meet for some extra cash. They double all through their high school and college careers.

          5. You can try to come up with as many excuses as you want against something new but unless something different gets tried, post-collegiate indoor track & field is dead as a spectator sport.


          • 1. How does that work for the multi-event athletes? Indoor pentathlons and heptathlons every week? Or distance runners turning out 3000m and 5000m races at five successive indoor meets? And what's the appeal without stars? The Boston Indoor Games sells itself as one of the top indoor meets around, and people like Defar, Dibaba, Flanagan, Goucher, Willis, Jackson, etc are usually featured. Why would a major sponsor want to invest money in the meet if it's basically an all-comers affair completely lacking in major names that could generate media attention and interest?

            2. That works well enough for the world championships or the Olympics, but we're talking about a two hour meet with 100-200 competitors maximum. Why would a city have any interest invested in a team if they didn't live there at all and didn't compete there? All the MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA teams play half their games at home. That wouldn't work for track.

            3. Absolutely not. What is adidas paying Tyson Gay for if not to advertise their product and achieve a level of assoication between excellence and the brand? It's in the contracts of every one of these guys that they will never been seen in a competitor's gear except in the context of being a part of a national team at an Olympic, World, Area/free association championships. Penn has been an exception given its history but that's where it ends. Why on earth would a company agree to remove that stipulation? Do you honestly see Puma telling Ricky Simms, "for Usain's renewal, we're going to drop the requirement that he wear our equipment at all times so feel free to sign some other agreement that puts him in a Nike or adidas uniform." This is a key difference between track and the team sports. Only a handful of guys in the major team sports in America make more money from shoe contracts than do the very best guys in track because they're almost always limited to just footwear, with everything else from their ankles on up being covered in the team gear. The players don't mind this because the make 10 to 50 times as much from their contract with the team. Do you honestly see that happening? Where sponsorships, ticket sales and tv rights rival those of the NFL?

            4. Why would I sign on to that? There are very good 800m runners who struggle to run 47 seconds and you want to stick them on a 4x400m? Why would Sanya Richards agree to effictively double the number of races she's going to run in a given season? You talk about mandating all the stiuplations as if they have no choice in the matter. But I wouldn't agree to anything that in any way diminishes my own autonomy and my own ability to pick up endorsements and set my own competition schedule. What happens when the names you have scheduled to compete in all these races say they can't because they have a sore hamstring or a cold and don't want to jeopardise the rest of the season and say "and here's a note from my personal physisican"?

            5. I am explaining why I believe your proposal is flawed and impractical. Track can survive and do very well in the United States and the rest of the world but it won't be done by trying to copy the NCAA season.


            • T&F lifeboat strategy can be sliced anywhichway with shrinking money deals among top down shoe contract athletes and US city meet promoters. Sad truth is that jump roping, rodeo, and chainsaw log running races are more media interesting than the shot put or track hurdle races. I think outdated football field tracks would draw more interest with teaspoon balanced egg races than the high hurdles. I wish I had enough Ned/Halfmiler optimism to be interested in corporate-meet promoter savior strategies. In the present form, track and field is running a memorial sad nobody cares death lap.


              • I already said there would have to be a taxi squad for substitutes for injured athletes. But , Ned, if you don't want to even give a league a try, then come up with a better idea because the indoor USA circuit is going to die with the status quo. We need to be innovative.


                • Can you see any reason why someone would give up earning power and the ability to set their own schedule? This isn't basketball where Kobe Bryant can't do anything outside of the context of a team. He needs four teammates and five opponents to win games and set records. Bolt doesn't need any of that, except for the relay which is an afterthought anyway.

                  A league is incompatible with track and field. A series, however, is workable and my hope is that the Diamond League ends up being a big step forward. They've already announced that three or four competitions between Bolt, Gay and Powell are "assured." That's a draw right there, nevermind the rest of the schedule.


                  • IMHO, it appears to me that Swensen has had way too much time on his hands over the years. I mean, who in their right mind has time to watch track and field when you are occupied with cliff diving, polar bear wrestling, jump roping, rodeo, chainsaw log running races and teaspoon balanced egg races?


                    • Originally posted by Speedfirst

                      We see where the majority of the meets are held now, back in the 60's, 70's and 80's the U.S. held the lion share of meets. ....

                      uhhh.... no they didn't.


                      • 2 comments on the thread so far:

                        - first, to those advocating the legalization of PEDs you're absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong. track needs to continue fighting PEDs and leading the way. most people do not want to watch a freak show, nor do corporations want to be associated with such a thing.

                        - contrary to a lot of fatalism on the current state of track, there is actually evidence that the sport is in fact gaining some popularity back; having a bit of a resurgence. bolt is a big part of this, of course.

                        - ideas about leagues and teams and such aren't necessary. keep improving the format of existing meets.

                        - focus on staging U.S. competitions in higher quality stadiums; most venues for track meets in the U.S. are abysmal compared to those in Europe.

                        - USATF should set a goal of hosting the World Championships: this requires building a good stadium first - it must be in a major city.

                        - finally, market the sport around head to head competition - not records. hyping records sets everyone up for dissapointment. everyone loves good competition.


                        • Originally posted by 110hedgeNYC
                          - USATF should set a goal of hosting the World Championships: this requires building a good stadium first - it must be in a major city.....
                          USATF has such a goal already. This was part of Doug Logan's closing speech at the Convention last fall:

                          <<...We will not be taken seriously in the corridors if the IAAF until we host an outdoor World Championship competition on our shores. Therefore, we pledge to find both a venue and financing and will successfully bid on the outdoor World Championships for 2015....>>

                          If Chicago gets the 2016 Oly bid, it may well happen. If Chicago does not get the bid, the U.S. won't host the WC until some American city does.

                          Unfortunately, those two factors are inextricably linked at this point. IMHO, that is.


                          • I love track, but the reality is that it's a minor sport.

                            It probably sits above rowing, definitely above curling, more fun than field hockey, but takes longer.

                            Its ahead of archery, behind cycling - though they have issues, maybe behind swimming, might have a smaller following than bowling.

                            It is what it is.

                            Thank goodness for the Olympics or it might fall to the level of bass fishing.