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Has Track & Field ever had it so good?

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  • Has Track & Field ever had it so good?

    I'm reading the front-page article that begins

    Has sport ever had it so good?
    The doomsayers may believe different, but sport is a more prominent part of our culture than ever, and fears of its decline are vastly exaggerated.
    and I think we could replace the word 'sport' with 'T&F".

    1. We can watch many meets live now.
    2. We have instant results in many cases.
    3. The prize money is better than ever.
    4. There is better coaching, equipment, technical expertise, facilities, support - from top to bottom.
    5. We are more connected than ever before, sharing experiences about the sport.
    6. There are more scandals now, but that's mostly due to better communications and investigations.
    7. We can access vast reservoirs of info about the sport instantly.

    I'm sure there are other reasons.

    We mourn the 'good old days' of the 60s when T&F was covered better by the large media and the sporting public followed the sport more closely, but I actually like being the one of the few die-hard fans of our sport. We also liked it when the USA dominated the Olympics, but I like it better now having to fight for every medal.

    Plus . . . with the equity in women's T&F, we have twice as much to enjoy as ever before.

    Out cup may be seen as 90% empty, but that 10% that it's full, is D-Lish.

    Sincerely,

    Polly Anna Tafnut

  • #2
    Originally posted by Atticus View Post
    I'm reading the front-page article that begins


    and I think we could replace the word 'sport' with 'T&F".

    1. We can watch many meets live now.
    2. We have instant results in many cases.
    3. The prize money is better than ever.
    4. There is better coaching, equipment, technical expertise, facilities, support - from top to bottom.
    5. We are more connected than ever before, sharing experiences about the sport.
    6. There are more scandals now, but that's mostly due to better communications and investigations.
    7. We can access vast reservoirs of info about the sport instantly.

    I'm sure there are other reasons.

    We mourn the 'good old days' of the 60s when T&F was covered better by the large media and the sporting public followed the sport more closely, but I actually like being the one of the few die-hard fans of our sport. We also liked it when the USA dominated the Olympics, but I like it better now having to fight for every medal.

    Plus . . . with the equity in women's T&F, we have twice as much to enjoy as ever before.

    Out cup may be seen as 90% empty, but that 10% that it's full, is D-Lish.

    Sincerely,

    Polly Anna Tafnut
    All valid points, but there was much more T&F to follow in the 60s and 70s.

    Comment


    • #3
      A good perspective Atticus. Thank you for it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Dave View Post
        All valid points, but there was much more T&F to follow in the 60s and 70s.
        Certainly the elite USA indoor circuit was more . . . evident?

        I miss meets like these (e.g., 1973)

        Philadelphia Classic
        LA Sunkist
        SF Examiner
        Albq JayCee
        Ore Inv
        Toronto Maple-Leaf
        Cleveland KC
        Seattle Inv
        LA Times
        Mason-Dixon
        Astrodome
        Oakland Inv
        US Olympic Inv
        San Diego

        because it was a moveable feast and the stars went head-to-head often.
        But . . . today there are plenty of opportunities for the pros to compete, but they're smarter today, adhering to periodization schedules to optimize the outdoor campaign.
        Today's Diamond League is an improvement on the old Grand Prix circuit and there are plenty of meets between the DLs to keep our attention. Where we ARE lacking is in the build-up to the PG/WC when everyone seems to go into a 6-week hiatus. Also, the meets after the OG/WC suffer more than they used to.

        All-in-all, I much prefer this modern age of internet video/results coverage to the old "go-to-the-library-every-week-to-read-the-LA-Times-agate" days.

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree with Atticus. My father ran in Mississippi in the 40s, I ran in Texas in the 80s and while there was more national media coverage, we spent most of our time waiting for TandFN to come to know what happened in the rest of the country/world. Now, my son competes (TN for HS, now Stanford) and we can not only follow every one of his meets, but, all of his friends, and then share the links and live feeds/video with our family and friends spread across the country. Makes it easy for a novice to follow our sport and feel connected like they know something. I believe it is allowing the possibility of a resurgence. At these next olympics social media will allow people to follow athletes into the future as has never been possible before. We may see a follow through different after Rio.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yes in the U.S. track is doing alright on the high school and college level. But above that it seems to me more like hanging by a thread. Even with Nike support it's difficult to make a living by it. And when Uncle Phil joins Bowerman in that Hayward Field in the sky...well who knows what will happen.

            And in Europe it is just shadow of what it once was. In Britain there is Mo Farah, but almost everyone else is completely dependent on Lottery funds. But being dependent on David Cameron, or whichever party is in power is not my idea of a solid base of support.

            And on the Continent, on the men's side at least, is almost dead. There are a few stars, the French pole vaulter, but football grabs all the top athletes now. European distance running, once great, is for the most part gone.

            Zurich was once a great meet but it is hardly worth crossing the street to go to now.

            The East Africans are pretty much gravitating to the marathon where all the money.

            Anyways I could go on...but as I said the high schools and college programs seem to thriving for now, which is good so there is some hope.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you include all 4 segments of "T&F" (or "Athletics"), then it's a year-round sport.
              (The "4 segments" I speak of are INdoor T&F, OUTdoor T&F--which I at least see as distinct & separate seasons!!--Roads, and XC.)

              Spring
              OUTdoor T&F in US (duals, conferences, Penn, Drake, Texas, Florida Mt SAC, spring marathons (Boston, London, Rotterdam, etc), Gotzis, first few DL's, NCAA, NBN, etc

              Summer
              most of the DL's, big regional Championships (Euros, Pan Am, Commonwealth), the OG or WC's, WJC (also WY, Jr Oly, etc), all-comers meets, lots of smaller European meets, some important road races

              Fall
              Cross Country in the US (HS & College), fall marathons (Berlin, NYC, Chicago, Fukuoka), beginning of "Down Under" summer season (Australia, NZ), early US INdoor action

              Winter
              INdoor T&F (smaller, but still potent, if you add Euro, etc meets to US/Canadian meets), Dubai marathon, some early OUTdoor action (especially in Florida, Texas, and California)

              Not to mention all the arguments that go on about AOY choices, T&FN Annual Rankings, IAAF & USATF & Bowerman awards!
              Plus the "unexpected"----news of deaths, drug scandals, Pro signings by teens, marriages, divorces, pregnancies (& babies born!!), injuries--plus any nonsense that Let's Run allows on their MB!!

              See?
              Year-round!
              Last edited by aaronk; 12-30-2015, 01:42 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Totally agree with Atticus and disagree with cubehead.

                On the subject of financial support, it's wrong to say that athletes are less well off financially than they were in prior eras. The second tier struggle, yes, but they always have. The top tier are way better off than ever, but their expectations are also a lot higher, driven by the money that the top players in other professional sports make. Among many in the second tier, there's an attitude that "we deserve to make a living from this because we work so hard". While I sympathize and I would love it if they could have a secure living, that's just not how the world works. It's a market driven system.

                Track is just as popular in Europe as it ever was. The main difference is the dominance of African athletes in the distances. In Britain, it's on a high, with Jess Ennis, KJT, Rutherford and others getting just as much airplay as Farah. In the summer, newspapers have multiple articles on track every day (though admittedly many of them are in some way PED-related).

                It is less popular with the general public in the US, but I like Atticus' point that "I actually like being the one of the few die-hard fans of our sport". That doesn't detract from my enjoyment of it. I do miss Jenner, Sunkist, Modesto Relays and other quality California meets, but on the other hand I have great quality live (or at least a few hours old) video of every meet in the world.
                Last edited by berkeley; 12-30-2015, 05:38 PM.

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