Sir Walter Miler, Flotrack Throwdown redefine fan-friendly track & field
“Where we can't compete in prize purse, we make up for in southern hospitality. We want fans and athletes to interact with no pretense.”- Pat Price
By Kevin Liao, Sporting News
Participation in high school track and field is at an all-time high, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
In 2013-14, track & field trailed just football in total number of prep athletes, totaling 1.06 million participants for the school year.
Track’s mainstream popularity, however, has failed to keep pace.
While stars like Jim Ryun and Bruce Jenner once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and were plastered on the front of Wheaties boxes, the sport has fallen from the consciousness of most American sports fans over the years.
One common critique of track is the structure of competitions, which stress participation over fan-friendliness.
Due to the sheer volume of competitors, high school and college meets can last the entirety of the day. Family members of competitors have an incentive to sit through hours of races while waiting for loved ones to compete, but it’s hard to expect even die-hard fans to go through such a grueling experience.
"Traditional track meets are also too long for the TL;DR generation," said Pat Price, race director of Sir Walter Miler. "Unless you're a Diamond League meet with major sponsor backing, it's hard to entertain people for more than a few hours."
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