Quick run up to someone at the shopping center and ask them to name three current track stars.
That’s what we thought.
Rich Pereleman for UniversalSports.com ran an incredible story about fixing track and field. Which is interesting because track is struggling to maintain against stiff competition from Mixed Material Arts, Extreme Games, and another other form of entertainment for that matter.
“Track & field, even in the Olympic year, is simply irrelevant as a spectator sport in the United States. The "regular season" for elite U.S. track & field athletes, in the United States, is an unremarkable series of three invitational meets called the "Visa Championship Series." In 2008, this included the May 18 adidas Track Classic in Carson, California (attendance about 2,000); the May 31 Reebok Grand Prix in New York (sell-out of 6,490) and the high-quality Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon (a legit attraction that sold out at 14,221). That’s it: three meets. The last meet in the "series" was the Olympic Trials from June 27-July 6."
The downward trend of the sport in the U.S. can tied to doping and lack of a leadership in the sport.
There is a laundry list of things that track and field must-do to improve, but becoming relevant again has to be at the top of the list.
By that I mean the sport must woven into the social fabric as it once was in this country. Gone are the days prior to 2001; my how we long for the brilliance of Carl Lewis; the incredible domination by Michael Johnson; the unpredictable antics of Maurice Greene.
Before the Olympic Trials most of the country would have been hard pressed to name fastest U.S. athlete for the past year: Tyson Gay.
Track meets have to be running in the U.S. during the summer months in order to make any ground. Many of the current track athletes lack the proper exposure. The fact is that the Adidas Classic, Prefontaine, and the Reebook GP have absolutely no media buzz.
Under new CEO Doug Logan the sport’s governing body has taken to social marketing, and that is certainly a start.
Every professional sport except track works at winning over the current and future generations. There is an opportunity with the Beijing Olympics, progress made with the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon and the star power of Usain Bolt to build momentum for the sport in this country.
Every four years we have this same conversation. Do you think this year will be any different?
By Jay Hicks.