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My Thoughts on Track

Matt Hoekstra 2 years ago

It seems that Track and Field has reached the point in which it needs to change in order to survive. Right now US track and field is a relatively high point in terms of performance and yet no one really cares outside of the couple weeks this summer. The fact of matter is that track is too hard to follow, too tedious to watch, and is not easy to be a fan of. What I mean by this is that with meets all over the world every weekend and meets that are either so long due to the massive amounts of heats or you have to get up/stay up to watch some meet half way around the earth, being a hardcore track fan is a tough task. In addition it is hard to be a fan because your favorite athlete, unlike sports like NASCAR aren’t predictable as far as when they will actually compete and there is nothing keeping athletes from dropping out of meets if they please.
Successful sports are so because they generate a fan base, the main way to do this is to evoke regional pride and a sense of attachment to the sport. This comes in the form of teams. Teams are perfect because they are dependant on the individuals that comprise them, the Los Angles Lakers will still have fans regardless if Kobe announces his retirement tomorrow. Professional track and field needs teams. This is a wild idea that will probably never be feasible, but I believe it be necessary if we are ever to compete with sports like football, soccer, or basketball. These teams would be co-ed (the only professional sports of its kind) and they would compete against other teams similarly to the way that tri and dual meets work. Imagine a season in which teams have weekly dual meets against other teams and wins and losses count against their overall record and allow for them to qualify for a playoff format to decide a “super bowl” of track. (Just Imagine Eugene Track club and Denver track club dueling it out for title). Obviously the current format of track meet would be a little too long for the average American viewer so only a selected number of events would be competed in per week, these would be chosen either by the teams themselves or by random the week before. Teams would be capped to say 50 individuals, 25 guys and 25 girls. If each event were to be contested between 5 athletes from each team then teams would have to strategize on the best way for them to field a winning team with only 25 athletes. There would be a draft in which teams would select the best college athletes to sign with professional clubs (instead of just shoe sponsors, which they could still do, just imagine the Lagat’s signature Nike track spikes). The professional track season would take place around the same time as the current NCAA outdoor season allowing for the athletes to still compete in the world championships and Olympics. Hopefully the Olympics wouldn’t be the only time that people car about track and track athletes would have to work so hard to make money. I have no idea how this change would take place in the US but all I know if track is slowly disappearing at the professional and college level and something drastic needs to happen. 

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