Today is the opener of track and field’s Diamond League, which will be the best competition we have in this non-Olympic, non-World Championship year. (Watch on Universal Sports at noon ET.)
I’m excited, and I know most of you aren’t.
I think part of the problem is that we don’t really know what qualifies as a “good” performance. We see that someone ran the 100-meter hurdles in 12.62 seconds. That doesn’t capture the imagination.
So I’m experimenting with a chart that will help you figure out what’s what. You’ll see the world records (some of them set in an era of sketchy or nonexistent drug testing), the best performance of the 10th-best performer of all time, the U.S. record, the best performance of 2013, the best performance of the 5th-best performer of 2013, and the best performance of 2014 (through May 7).
Then you’ll see what the complex IAAF scoring tables, set by statistical analysis way above my mathematical abilities, tell you are elite-level performances — the 1,300- and 1,200-point levels. In several disciplines, no one has ever reached the 1,300-point level. But in most disciplines, a 1,200-point performance is needed to win.
Then I tossed in the worst time (or distance or height) of the winning Diamond League performances from 2013. Take those with a grain of salt. Every now and then, you get a sprint into a headwind, a field event in driving rain, or a “tactical” distance race in which everyone goes slowly (by their standards) and figures they’ll win with a big kick at the end.
But those Diamond League marks can sometimes tell you we’re about to see things rev up in a big way. See those events in which the best performance of 2014 (so far) is worse than the worst winning performance of last year’s Diamond League? Yeah. Time to go faster, higher, farther.