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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Superfan Daily: Track Fans, Be Heard

When I was young, one of the books that made the biggest impression on me was Horton Hears A Who!. If you don’t know the Dr. Seuss classic, then as far as I’m concerned you weren’t educated as a child.

Horton, an elephant with acute hearing, notices a speck of dust talking to him. It’s actually a tiny planet populated by microscopic Whos. The other jungle animals ridicule Horton, imprison him, and plan to destroy the speck unless they can hear the Whos too. Being told this by Horton, every Who makes as much noise as he or she can, but fail to cross the threshold of hearing…until one young Who discovered not doing his part finally chips in and saves them all from death.

The lesson to take from it is that you never know which person doing their part can get us all over the hump and to where we want to be. As track fans, it’s high time we all made some noise.

The other day Ken Goe spoke for all of us when he wrote the following.

Stephanie Hightower, president/chair of the USATF, issued her state of the sport report yesterday...she restated the USATF mantra, "The athletes are why we are here

I think that mantra encapsulates why the USATF is failing the sport.

Nowhere in her report did Hightower talk about the fans. If track and field ever is going to regain its foothold in the U.S. sports scene, somebody is going to have to care about the people who buy tickets and tune into televised meets.

That isn't going to happen as long as the USATF thinks of itself as an insular organization existing primarily to cater to participants in the sport.

Small example:

The teleconference advancing the USA Cross Country Championships took place last Wednesday, which probably made sense to the athletes and meet organizers.

The problem was, Wednesday was college football signing day.

The USATF could not have picked a day to attempt to publicize one of its national championships that was more guaranteed to marginalize the coverage it would receive from mainstream media outlets.

If the USATF wants to reach beyond its captive audience -- the small, dedicated group of U.S. track and field fans and the websites that serve them -- it's going to have to do better than that.
At the moment, track and field doesn't register in this country. To become relevant beyond Hayward Field, the sport is going to have to reach outside of itself.

Until it cares as much about the fans as it does the athletes, it's going to continue to fade from public consciousness.

I suggest all of you e-mail the article to USATF leadership to make the point heard. Whether you think it will accomplish anything is beside the point. Don’t be the Who that shirks his responsibility!

Here is the text that I sent.

As a USATF member and a track fan, I'd like to make sure that you have seen the following article written by The Oregonian's Ken Goe.
His comments express my feelings on the matter very well. I'd also like to add that USATF would be better served by broadcasting VISA Championship Series events live, or by saving the money and not broadcasting them at all.

Addresses are below. Even if you want to be nasty, please don’t be. Besides a link to Goe’s article and a plea for making fans a priority, you might also add that televised sports events must be live in order to be worth watching. USATF’s habit of tape-delaying coverage is not good for anyone.

Stephanie Hightower (President)
Jack Wickens (Vice Chair)
Bob Hersh (IAAF Rep)
John Chaplin (Men’s T&F Chair)
Sue Humphrey (Women’s T&F Chair)
Brian Brase (Director, Events and Broadcasting)
Glenn Latimer (LDR Chair)
Jim Estes (LDR Programs Manager)

What’s On
The Novinarska latka, the second leg of the Czech High Jump Grand Prix, takes place today in Prague.
Meet website

The Brisbane Track Classic, an Athletics Australia Tour event, takes place on Friday in the Australian city.
Meet website / Schedule / Start lists
AOC preview

Yesterday’s Results
Europa SC High Jump Meeting 2011
Wednesday, Banska Bystrica SVK
Winners: Ivan Ukhov (RUS) 2.39, Antoinetta Di Martino (ITA) 2.04
Athletics Weekly story and results

News Links
Runner's World's Racing News has all the headlines.

The biggest headline: West Ham will get the 2012 London Olympic Stadium and the track will stay put.

Let's Run's week in review.

The new House of Run weekly podcast is up.

USTFCCCA's daily college news roundup.

Notes from the Oregon Track Club's annual meeting.

Ken Goe's daily Oregon track notebook.

Ashton Eaton is USATF's Athlete of the Week.

Paul Merca wonders how many runners will break 4:00 at this weekend's Husky Classic, and several Oregon footballers will run the 60.

Michigan's Frank Shotwell on the most difficult event in track--all of them together!

An interview with Toledo's own Erik Kynard.

Will Australia bid for the 2019 Worlds?

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