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Monday, January 22, 2007

Big News -- The Sport Moves Forward

The IAAF announced yesterday that Zurich's Weltklasse Golden League meet will have some major changes in store for 2007. No appearance fees, more prize money, and NO RABBITS. This announcement has set the message boards on fire.

Some reactions...

"yeah, right - there'll be a work-around, I bet. Someone WILL take out the pace, and he'll also finish, albeit behind the field."

"I think if you asked, the majority of athletes would tell you they would rather come 8th at Zurich and run 3:31 than win and run 3:35."

"Zurich is the best track meet in the world. Why change it? Different meets serve different puroses. Zurich compiled the best athletes and the fastest conditions to produce world leading times."

"This is one year. If it degrades the quality of the meet, they'll reverse it."

"I wonder if any of the other big European meets will follow suit. My guess is that nobody will do that until they see how it works in Zurich."

"This will result in some very fun finishes but probably not a lot of fast times."

"Sounds like the organizers have decided to screw the top athletes and keep the money for themselves. So, guys like Asafa and Bekele go from where the top guys are maybe getting $100K in appearance fees, to where less than that is aplit among everyone in their event."

"If the performance money is good enough, enough of top runners will probably show up. Moreover, if the prize money is significantly better for better placings, the competition could be more intense. I guess we're all curious to see how this works out."

"As for "getting real", is it really too much to ask that one lousy meet on the entire European circuit actually be a race?"

In general, a lot of this devolves into arguing about whether fast times are more interesting to watch than close competition. Personally, I go for the latter, and if the powers-that-be want to expand their fan base they better take the sport in that direction. At the very least, this is the best hot-stove league action track fans have had for a while.

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