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  • "Hockey On Verge Of Collapse?"

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5124297/

    What does this have to do with track? As I read the story (by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, who writes up a storm), I was wondering, sadly, if you could replace "hockey" with "track" here:

    <<..."Major" is a vague but invaluable distinction conferred in the public mind. Some sports, some events, are major. Some aren't. There's no election, no referendum. Nobody calls to tell you on the day you move from one category to the other. But, over time, it happens. And for years hockey has been slipping back toward "minor." In its most recent TV contract, the NHL accepted terms that were comparable to the Arena Football League.

    Once a major sport falls back into the pack of wannabes, it never recovers. Once, prize fighting and horse racing were huge national sports, far bigger than hockey has ever dreamed of being. Does hockey understand that if it shrinks in popularity as much as boxing and horse racing that it will not just be small, it will almost be invisible? Can you say, bowling? Actually, that would be an insult to bowling with its large participant base...>

  • #2
    Re:

    i think the fact that he doesnt even mention track shows exactly where it stands =)

    Comment


    • #3
      Re:

      I've only been reading this board for a few weeks now and often people bemoan the fate of our sport. To be honest, I really don't care if the average coach potato watches the coverage on NBC and gets into it. The fan base that we have in track, and I mean the real fan, the sit in the stands and get cooked by the sun to watch the prelims in the shot put fans, are fantastic and thrilled with the sport. There is something about the simple battle against the guy or girl next to you or gravity of the clock that really stirs something in us. You can't tackle someone in track, the only way to beat them is to make yourself hurt more. That's what it's all about! Has anyone else noticed that the average baseball fan couldn't give a crap if players are on drugs but the average track fan is mortified that a track athlete is?

      As for TV coverage, it might be time to embrace the fact that there is nothing you can do to track to make a lardass care. The ability to run 4:07 pace for 3.1 miles or 400 meters with barriers in under 47 seconds is just so far beyond the ability of the average TV watcher to comprehend that they will never tune in, no matter how many stupid human interest stories or asinine USA vs the World showcases are on. The better bet is to put on quality meets that appeal to the base of fans that already loves track and would rather see the two 400H races at the Home Depot meet than more recapping of the BALCO deal or other wastes of time. OLN's coverage of cycling is a good example. They have fantastic announcers (you think it's hard filling the space between races? Ask Phil Ligget how hard it is to keep a 200Km bike race interesting, yet somehow he pulls it off) I would kill to have OLN cover a bunch of meets with the same care and ability as they do pro cycling. Could you imagine if they had a "meet of the week" like they have "race of the week?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Re:

        boswell is a baseball geek...

        as to sports ebbing and flowing within cultures, need we recollect the history of the nfl or nba to comprehend to ever changing evolution of sport within cultures...

        I do suspect the face of sport continues to change over the generations...

        need we examine nascar or the growing appeal of soccer, eys soccer, just look at the uinder 30 crowd and examine it's appeal...

        t&f has a major lack of presence in the media.

        That's problem #1...

        Some how getting t&f on TV is a significant step.

        How is this going to happen, well, with the proliferation of cable, some day, ALL t&f will be accessible.

        Then linking this accessibility to a younger generation will be critical.

        Just recall the mantra, all existence is change.

        then await the day t&f is king.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Re:

          As for TV coverage, it
          >might be time to embrace the fact that there is nothing you can do to track to
          >make a lardass care. The ability to run 4:07 pace for 3.1 miles or 400 meters
          >with barriers in under 47 seconds is just so far beyond the ability of the
          >average TV watcher to comprehend that they will never tune in,

          i don't know.. it's no more beyond their ability than what the athletes in the NBA and NFL can do. and just as many people were involved in track in their younger days as were involved in basketball and football.. i don't think this really has anything to do with it.

          there's another thread somewhere in which this was deeply gone through.. i agreed with the folks that said it seems that team sports are just more appealing to the average person. there are a million other factors for the disparities but this seems to be the case.

          for some reason, in the olympics, solo sports that people could care less about in other years, suddenly cause lots of excitement (swimming, gymnastics, t&f, figure skating) - and i can only think it has to do with people considering themselves on the same 'team' as those athletes from their respective countries, and the typical us vs them attitude shining through..

          Comment


          • #6
            "Hockey On Verge Of Collapse?"

            >I've only been reading this board for a few weeks now and often people bemoan
            >the fate of our sport. >>

            I think that's because a goodly number of people on the board are old enough to remember when track had far greater status than it once did. I/we would be quite content with minor-sport status if we thought that we had reached the end of the descent, but we have not.

            We're still in freefall, and we fear for the horrid "splat!" that potentially awaits us.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re:

              I think that for the most part the participation level in our sport is good. But I know that even at a meet I sometimes have a hard time getting some of the kids I coach to actually watch the meet. Young peoples attention spans are short these days, so we have to do somethng to grab them. Don't take this the wrong way Garry but lycra spandex and the brevity of uniforms has helped this sport. Look at womens tennis. Look at what they get away with wearing (but Greg Rusedski couldn't wera a sleeveless shirt at the US Open last year).

              I fondly remember going to the four indoor meets in Madison Square Garden and running into packs of athletes from other teams in the Tri-state area, who were there to see the big names. Now they can't even sell out the Millrose Games!

              One thing that is essential at ANY meet is a great on-field announcer, and this should go for high school meets too. People sitting inthe stands at a meet often have no clue where to look. Down here there is someone with a "mike" walking around all day calling attention to what's happening where. These kinds of things help.

              Also I think when a meet is going to be on Tv we have to hype the individual match-ups so people tune in to see Mo race Monty for example or ather key atch-ups rather than just turning hte meet on and not knowing what's coming up.
              Just some ideas.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Re:

                >I think that for the most part the participation level in our sport is good.
                >But I know that even at a meet I sometimes have a hard time getting some of
                >the kids I coach to actually watch the meet. Young peoples attention spans
                >are short these days, so we have to do somethng to grab them. Don't take this
                >the wrong way Garry but lycra spandex and the brevity of uniforms has helped
                >this sport.>>

                I would say that for every gawker that women in spandex have attracted, two longtime fans have been turned away by guys flaunting their packages in the same kind of outfits.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Re:

                  >As for TV coverage, it
                  >might be time to embrace the fact that there is
                  >re is nothing you can do to track to
                  >make a lardass care. The ability to run
                  >4:07 pace for 3.1 miles or 400 meters
                  >with barriers in under 47 seconds is
                  >just so far beyond the ability of the
                  >average TV watcher to comprehend that
                  >they will never tune in,

                  i don't know.. it's no more beyond their ability
                  >than what the athletes in the NBA and NFL can do. and just as many people were
                  >involved in track in their younger days as were involved in basketball and
                  >football.. i don't think this really has anything to do with it.>>

                  Hitting a jump shot or scoring a touchdown doesn't hurt (necessarily). Running 4:07 per mile for 3.1 miles does.

                  there's
                  >another thread somewhere in which this was deeply gone through.. i agreed with
                  >the folks that said it seems that team sports are just more appealing to the
                  >average person. there are a million other factors for the disparities but this
                  >seems to be the case.

                  for some reason, in the olympics, solo sports that
                  >people could care less about in other years, suddenly cause lots of excitement
                  >(swimming, gymnastics, t&f, figure skating) - and i can only think it has to do
                  >with people considering themselves on the same 'team' as those athletes from
                  >their respective countries, and the typical us vs them attitude shining
                  >through..>>

                  A lot of this is the 'someone to root for' factor. Most sports fans like team sports (in the US). No matter how many players change teams the ones on our team are still ours. That's why the Olympics are popular. The Athletes are on 'our' team. What percentage of Americans root for an athlete of another nation when there is legit competion between an American and a non American. It's probably less than 5% and those probably consist of the most hard core fans of that particular sport.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Re:

                    <The Athletes are on 'our' team.>

                    Yep. Your guy is a goon, mine is an enforcer.
                    "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                    by Thomas Henry Huxley

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Re:

                      The notion that the NHL is "on the verge" is nutty. They are going to get a new CBA that will put their financial house in order. Their players can be well off, but not rich. A 35mil. hard cap is logical. It's a niche sport: they will never have a big TV contract. But it's popular, and in most major cities in N.America.
                      Now the NBA...they have problems. And I'm not just talking about the tatoos.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Re:

                        >I think that for the most part the participation level in our sport is good.
                        >But I know that even at a meet I sometimes have a hard time getting some of
                        >the kids I coach to actually watch the meet. Young peoples attention spans
                        >are short these days, so we have to do somethng to grab them. Don't take this
                        >the wrong way Garry but lycra spandex and the brevity of uniforms has helped
                        >this sport. Look at womens tennis. Look at what they get away with wearing
                        >(but Greg Rusedski couldn't wera a sleeveless shirt at the US Open last
                        >year).

                        I fondly remember going to the four indoor meets in Madison Square
                        >Garden and running into packs of athletes from other teams in the Tri-state
                        >area, who were there to see the big names. Now they can't even sell out the
                        >Millrose Games!

                        One thing that is essential at ANY meet is a great on-field
                        >announcer, and this should go for high school meets too. People sitting inthe
                        >stands at a meet often have no clue where to look. Down here there is someone
                        >with a "mike" walking around all day calling attention to what's happening
                        >where. These kinds of things help.

                        Also I think when a meet is going to be
                        >on Tv we have to hype the individual match-ups so people tune in to see Mo
                        >race Monty for example or ather key atch-ups rather than just turning hte meet
                        >on and not knowing what's coming up.
                        Just some ideas.


                        At the NCAA DIII meet, on the second day when I wasn't competing, I got my first chance to in awhile to actually sit and enjoy a meet from the stands. Being a big track fan, I was enthralled watching every event from the Long Jump to the Javelin to the 3k steeplechase. However, I couldn't help but notice the other three legs of our relay becoming increasingly disinterested - to the point of two of them going to the on-campus library to check their email.

                        What is there to do? The other three legs consider track their second sport (football, soccer, and soccer) and I suppose it doesn't hold the same place in their hearts as it does for me. On the other hand, track was my fourth love when it comes to sports, so who knows.

                        Nik Bonaddio
                        Carnegie Mellon University

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Re:

                          I think part of the problem is the way track's presented on TV. It's presented for couch potatoes who don't know anything about track and the anouncers anounce to these people. Watch any other sporting event on TV and the announcer's are anouncing for the fans of the sport. It doesn't matter if it's a major sport like baseball or a minor sport like bowling or figure skating or something like that. The announcer's aren't sitting there dumbing down the sport like they do in track. It's just rediculous. In Golf they are breaking down Tiger Woods swing, while in track our announcer's are trying to get some average joe to comprehend how long 1,500meters is. Can you even imagine a golf anouncer for some PGA event saying "This hole is about 3 and a half football fields long." It's absurd.

                          Just a little side note from my experience. I got to watch the midwest regional final day and track meets just drag on too much for the fan. I think meets need to go off in about 2:30 for a fan to sit through them. I mean it was great watching track, but the long breaks in between action just kill the sport ( I know it serves it's purpose in letting people who double rest in some meets, but not all). Also, I got to see my complete first triple jumo competition from start to finish and must say that it was quiet entertaining.
                          http://www.ScienceofRunning.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Future

                            I don't share gh's pessimism for one simple reason: our HS participation numbers are so much stronger than any other second tier sport. We will survive more or less intact for the foreseeable future.

                            I think that the advent of the internet age of sports entertainment (webcasts, etc.) will be to our advantage, since we are so widely spread out. As long as so many adolescents participate, we will have a constantly renewable resource that, once we get our act together, we will be able to tap into to regenerate our interest levels.

                            The sky is not falling, but there is a real sense of urgency that we right the ship soon.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Re:

                              In Golf they are breaking
                              >down Tiger Woods swing, while in track our announcer's are trying to get some
                              >average joe to comprehend how long 1,500meters is. Can you even imagine a golf
                              >anouncer for some PGA event saying "This hole is about 3 and a half football
                              >fields long." It's absurd.

                              I completely agree with you, though I think some people (obviously the producers included) feel that whats happening onscreen is not clear enough to a large enough percentage of people who might pass by it, that they can just get into a jargon or minutiae filled broadcast. I think they dumb it down to try to bring in more fans, but it makes the programs really insulting to the fans, i agree. It's a hard balance to achieve. The fact that people always use 'football field' as a unit of measure, is disturbing, and i guess it shows how thoroughly the sport is ingrained into our culture.

                              >Just a little side note from my experience. I
                              >got to watch the midwest regional final day and track meets just drag on too
                              >much for the fan. I think meets need to go off in about 2:30 for a fan to sit
                              >through them.

                              I totally agree. some large meets with multiple divisions and lots of heats and all that go on absolutely forever. Someone else pointed out that a floor announcer keeping information and analysis coming throughout the meet is of the utmost importance. A lot of large meets i've seen, there's so much stuff going on, and nothing to tie it together, that it really just seems like some kind of strange 'athletic factory' that you're observing from the stands. That's not fun at all for a spectator. Back when trackmeets.com/i2sports actually had track meets and not just hockey and commencement addresses, I watched some. But when it's one giant several hour long video file with no chapter playlist or editing out of the huge breaks, its impossible to maneuver around..

                              i don't know what answer will make everyone happy though..

                              your 4:01 at pre was a fun race to watch! the commentating/analysis wasnt too bad on nbc except the botching of the splits (saying the rabbits have to 'pick it up' to hit 1:53 800m after a 59 second first lap) and botching finishing times, etc..

                              Comment

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