Track & field: I’m not dead!

The BBC weighs in on the “Is track & field dying in the US?” question.

I’m a little biased because Jill Geer, the USA Track and Field spokeperson quoted herein, is one of my all-time coolest co-workers (Knight Ridder Tribune days). But she’s absolutely right that the empirical data simply don’t point toward death.

Perhaps someone will regale me of tales of yore when the entire country stopped what it was doing to watch the Drake Relays. More likely is that we have some overromanticized sense that our Olympic champions of the past were giant figures in the years in between Games.

Actually, track and field didn’t even have a world championship until 1983, soon after the sport officially went pro. (Remember Jim Thorpe and the track and field medals he lost because he dabbled in pro baseball? I don’t think today’s track and field athletes have it worse.)

Sure, track and field — like other Olympic sports — is better ingrained in Europe than it is in North America. But the USA has two meets in the top-tier Diamond League, same as the UK.

And American athletes are doing pretty well. Just look at how many men and women have already met Olympic qualifying criteria. (And only three athletes per event can go. Trials will be intense.)


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