Empty Bleachers 2: Putting Ideas Into Action

Empty Bleachers 2: Putting Ideas Into Action
There is little doubt that the Southern California (aka CIF Southern Section) High School Division Finals at Mt SAC on Saturday will draw a far larger crowd than the USATF High Performance Meet at Oxy on Friday. Track and field in the month of May in southern California has been dominated for decades by the nail-biting three rounds of competition between League meets and the California State Meet Prelims/Finals.

The first round kicked off last Saturday with the Division Prelims spread across four sites. The second round continues on Saturday at Mt SAC with all four divisions at one site. The third round follows six days later with the Masters Meet (in which athletes from all divisions compete against each other for state qualifying spots) at Cerritos College in Norwalk. Over the years some of the details have changed but the basic format has remained the same for more than two decades.

This series of meets provides a perfect opportunity to showcase elite athletes and attract new fans by either integrating the Masters Meet into a meet for the elite athletes or holding a meet for the elite athletes at the same venue the day following the Division Finals. Marketing and promotion would easily reach thousands of fans via inserts into meet programs, PA announcements, and banners at the Division Prelims and FInals. There are obvious advantages to holding a single combined meet, but there are also interesting advantages in holding the meets on back-to-back days. Holding an elite meet the day following Division Finals could provide a variety of exposure opportunities for elite athletes, including presenting awards, autograph signings, etc. Discounts could be given to athletes competing the day before and/or to anyone attending the meet the previous day.

Perhaps this has been attempted before, but it should be tried again. The USATF/Oxy High Performance meet is an obvious starting candidate with its start-studded elite fields and compact time format. If successful, this format could be spread to other states/regions.

I offer the community these questions:
  • How would you refine this idea to make it better?
  • What would it take to make it happen?
  • Can we get elite athletes and USATF behind this idea or a better alternative?
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