The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sports Without Beer

Earlier today on Twitter, friend of the blog Martin Bingisser asked why the IAAF bans athletes from having ads for beer.  This got me thinking in much broader terms about what domestic track is missing.

Homer Simpson once said "I never realized how boring baseball is without beer".  All major league sports in America rely on beer sales and sponsorship to a great degree, at least in part to create a party-type "we're not really here for the game" atmosphere for people who don't care about what happens on the field.  Without beer, it's hard to imagine these sports being truly "major".  And minor league sports simply could not exist in their current form without beer.

USATF, however, does not tap into this.  It's not because they haven't thought of it.  It's because their hands are tied.  Nearly all track competitions in the USA are held in college facilities, and so they don't have the licenses or means to sell alchohol.  Some of the few non-campus facilties that host major events are the same way, such as Icahn Stadium and the Albuquerque convention center.  Only Madison Square Garden has the type of vendor setup that is part of every other major sporting event.

There are work-arounds.  The 2008 Olympic Trials sold beer in the immediately-outside-the-stadium festival area, and I can't imagine they didn't do the same for the temporary luxury boxes set up at the top of the backstretch.  But it takes a lot of effort, and as such it would be hard for USATF to make it worth a company's money to get them as an official beer sponsor.

Even for non-alcohol sales, most track facilities don't have food and drink sales like real major sports do, where you rarely have to walk more than 100 feet to stuff your face.    And I've only seen one domestic track facilitywith refreshment salespeople walking through the stands--at Ohio Northern University's tiny 500-seat sports center.

What's On Today
The Meeting Lille Metropole, an EAA Premium meet, takes place in the French city of Villenueve D'Ascq.  Of course, the headliner is Christophe Lemaitre.  And it being in France, they will not give you an English version at the meet website.

Track on TV
Diamond League Zurich rerun, noon on Universal Sports


Martin said...

Exactly my point. The sport is missing out on a huge potential source of revenue (and a way to make the fan experience more enjoyable).

The Track & Field Superfan said...

There's precedent for IAAF championship events to have beer sponsorship; Labatt did so for the 2001 Worlds in Edmonton. Others may have too but I just don't know. But it's way under-utilized.