Two weeks ago, our CC regional rep, who does a fantastic job, sent along the new legislation for us to look over. After confirming with him that indeed this would eliminate non-college athletes from competing in college meets (Think Stanford, TX Relays, Florida Relays, or almost any meet really), I sent the info to the TFAA to get the word out because as someone who coaches 5 post-collegiate athletes in addition to my college coaching duties, this would effectively kill sub-elite racing, destroy the field events, and hamper all but maybe the top 10 in the U.S. in their events.
track coaches and also the NCAA. There is a trend towards trying to make track
like “other sports.” That trend includes emphasizing scoring every single meet.
It makes sense to the non-track orientated person that every sport is scored.
So why shouldn’t track be the same?
perhaps a yearning for back in the day when dual meets reigned supreme. Us
young folk are regaled with stories of Oregon vs. UCLA or whatever other
historic team you want to talk about. We hear about the glory days and about
how people showed up to watch track.
two premises before finishing off with the rule changes.
a strong push to score all meets. As I mentioned above, it’s partly due to the
fact of this “every sport should have a score” notion.
exciting. Racing does. We have built in winners and losers within each
event. The process of racing and the
drama and competition that ensues is what makes our sport exciting. It’s what we have to sell.
NCAA track championships on TV, there would be a HEAVY bias towards following
the team score. They’d try and create this drama about how the team score
mattered. What happened is that they’d take the 2-3 teams that we’re in
contention and highlight the events that team had individuals in….and they’d
skip the rest.
track fans. Throughout the years, you have races completely skipped that were
amazing individual matchups, and you had
individual performances completely neglected because so and so from school X
scored 2 points in 7th place to boost their team…
track exciting, competition, racing, were neglected. And people got pissed. You didn’t satisfy the hard core fans who wanted to see the races. The “casual” fan never bought in (or else ratings would have improved…).
sport. When coming to a meet or watching
one on TV, people don’t tune in to see how the team is doing. People tune in to see specific races or
stumbles across the NCAA championships, he’s looking for the distance events,
then really doesn’t care much about anything else unless it’s a very big name.
The same goes for a throws athlete/fan, or a sprint athlete/fan.
and hockey game all on the same channel at the same time and rotating between
them every 5 minutes. VERY FEW people are there for all three. They might not
mind the other 1 or 2, but they are usually more passionate about one. That’s
what happens in our sport.
learned to love watching the technique, strength, and power of the various
events, but my passion will always be running. I enjoy watching the 200m or the
long jump, but I get fired up watching a good mile.That’s the reality of our sport. It’s
several individual sports wrapped in one. Team scoring doesn’t make it an
exciting team sport. All it does is potentially make the last race more
exciting for those directly involved at a championship meet. At a regular meet,
no one pays attention enough to know who the heck is winning. Try scoring
Stanford and see who cares.
tell you at all who won, got last, or anything in between and neither could
anyone on our squad, and they are invested in it.
they do work?
Arkansas, where both teams can field a pretty well rounded full track team.
Then you get actual competition in each event. And while all of the distance
races are likely tactical, and the times will likely be slower, it can at least
track team. The reality is that,
especially on the men’s side, the vast majority of schools can’t host a full
team. With 12.6 and 18 scholarships total to spread across many more events,
almost every team in the country has their weak spot. You can almost blame the demise of dual meets
on the NCAA scholarship limits.
dominating certain events. The races are bland and boring. The kids don’t
really care, because unless it’s a big time rivalry, it’s not that exciting for
a kid to go race a tactical slow meet against other teammates.
are better at certain events than others so it adds strategy. Until you
consider that you are watching two teams race, and that it really isn’t
exciting seeing one school time trial against themselves. It makes the
individual races bland. In the end, the individual races are what count. The
team score is a bonus.
they work in very specific instances? Yes. But the reality is for the vast
majority of teams, they don’t. They’re boring and dull. Why? Because when you
stick 6 guys on a track in a 3k and the abilities vary by a bit, it just
results in crappy racing.
think that the team score makes it exciting because they know what it’s like to
have a team battling for first at conference or at nationals. They know how the
excitement builds and how fun it is to go to the wire and pull off the win in
that unless you are involved in that. Let’s be honest, in order to see if our
actual team is in the race, it requires someone over the 2-3 days of that meet
updating the projections and calculated score throughout. Only the coaches or
hardcore math nerds know what the heck is going on until we get down close to
the 4×400. The casual fan has no idea.
The team score doesn’t matter until the end. It may make the 4×400 more
exciting at the end in a close meet, but the 4×400 is already one of the most
exciting events, so does it really help that much?
exciting for coaches because they are invested in that. Most “fans” aren’t. No
one cares if you won a team dual meet really, most likely not even your own
individual athletes on that team. What makes track exciting is selling the
races as matchups. We might portray it as a team sport, and it might have a
slight team concept, but the reality is when 3 guys can go to NCAAs and
potentially win an NCAA team championship, is it really a team championship?
storylines. Racing is exciting. Competition is exciting. Trying to do math to
figure out who is in the projected lead, is not. What we need to do is focus on
getting people invested into races.
meet, does anyone really talk about the team champion? My experience is besides
the athletes on that team, nope. What people come away talking about are the
matchups and the races that went down. Sometimes the team battle adds some
intrigue, but it’s filler. HS runners from around the state (at least in TX)
come watch the state meet because they want to see how the best in different
regions stack up. They want to see how so and so from their hometown matches up
against another cities best. There’s a connection. They go for the individual
from college meets, we’re hurting the sport. It’s not going to make college
meets more exciting because for the majority of the meets, no one cares about
the team score anyways. All college athletes do is add the one component that
makes track exciting: competition. And the vast majority of the time, it adds
to the competition. In the distance races especially (and field as well I
think) we would see a large drop in performance times at various meets as the
college athletes no longer have people to go after and chase. They no longer
have non-college rabbits to help them out. They no longer have the connection
to the post collegiate world. World
silver medalist Murielle Ahoure competed at our indoor meet and it gave me a
chance to point out a pro competing. My volunteer assistant, Jackie Areson
competed at our collegiate meets, which gave our guys and girls a chance to see
times at local meets they never would have.
no club system in the U.S. You would be killing sub-elite post-collegiate
racing. You would kill racing
opportunities for all the elite athletes who already struggle to get into “pro”
races, yet still run US qualifying marks. And above all, you’d kill anyones
chance at continuing this sport once done with school. Why stick around if you can’t compete?
1,100m I clicked of 60sec 400 pace to help a group of local college kids to get
their qualifying mark without having to fly out to Stanford. At that same meet,
my assistant coach raced the steeplechase unattached, ended up winning, and
pushing some college athletes at a small meet to some pretty solid times. In
the same meet, some good local 800 and 5k runners who were post collegiate showed
up and pushed the times down to some pretty respectable marks. It turned a
small local college meet into a pretty exciting meet for all those
involved. Not to mention my college
athletes got to see what their coaches could still do. The point is, none of
that could happen under the new rules. And that’s just sad.
conference rep and make it known that you oppose these rules changes.