What I am really asking is if the coaches, administrators and other folks that could help create fan interest have any incentive to do so. Since coaches in track and field are judged mainly by results at the conference or national level, and hardly any meets have a big crowd, do they really care. A good example of what I consider blatant "not caring" is this years Big 12 meet. It was held in Austin with an excellent facility, nice scoreboard, real-time results and decent announcing. But there were no heat sheets available and no programs with athlete bib numbers. In the shot put there is a great match up between Christian Cantwell and Carl Myerscough. Not having a heat sheet and not knowing the two of them by sight I simply gave up on trying to follow the event. This all sounds like a "small" thing, but in this day and age I find it inexplicable that anyone would "choose" to not have heat sheets available for a conference meet at one of the 3 best conferences in the country.
I was ticked when our local high school city championship didn't have heat sheets. I would have gone ballistic if I'd been at the Big 12 without them.
I really think you're right. No one seems to care, otherwise meets would be organized quite differently. Look at regionals -- as far as I know, they won't be on TV anywhere, even though they're perfect for it. If a similar level of competition wer not televised in any other NCAA sport, the coaches would complain long and loud and not quit until it was changed. Hell, softball was on ESPN last night, and that's a sport whose pro league went belly-up quick.
I organize a small high school invitational every year, and I take everyone's concerns into account; I really believe you can do what's best for coaches, athletes, officials and fans all simultaneously.
All the problems we have with the production of the sport come down to the fact that we always do what we've always done. No one in any leadership role uses their imagination.
Does anyone have experience attending Div II or III meets? Are they any better?
You're right, David! The lack of heat sheets drove me crazy too. They had something sort of like heat sheets on the texassports.com website for the final day, but of course that is of no use to out-of-towners like you who may not have access to the web. And they weren't real heat sheets, either -- just a list of names, but no spaces to write down marks. It could have been much better organized. And how hard would it be to create a simple leader board so that fans across the stadium who get distracted by a race can look over and know what's going on? I'm not talking anything expensive and high-tech -- heck, it can just be like the old-fashioned baseball scoreboards that had to be changed by hand. (That's not just a criticism of UT -- I've never seen boards like that anywhere.) I'm glad the Big 12 finally came to Austin, but I hope they'll try harder next time.
And how about actually getting some fans INTO the stands? If I was in charge of UT track, I would send somebody to as many schools in the area as possible and hand out tickets to every schoolkid that would take them and say "If you bring your parents, you get in free." UT's stadium seats 20,000, and it was nowhere near full. I doubt there were even 5,000.
I've been told that when Bowling Green hosted the Central Collegiate meet in the early 70s, they had to bring in extra seating to accomodate the 3000 fans in attendance. That may not sound like much to you who go to meets at Enourmous State University, but the basketball arena here still only seats 4000 or so. (And they give away tickets to grade-school kids so they can announce a "sellout".) Betchya they had heat sheets (and they had to TYPE them and use a DITTO machine!)
I'm sure a factor in the sad state of affairs is that coaches are the ones expected to run the meets, as if they don't already have enough to do. Football and basketball coaches don't have the same type of responsibilities for their home schedule, but then there's usually no one in the athletic department that knows enough to be able to run a meet besides the track coaches.
It costs money to put a meet on television. The host school isn't likely to pay to buy the time and pay for the producion costs.
Why not? Well look at what the host school gets: the gate, parking and concessions, minor sponsorships if they can sell them, and an enormous stipend of $3500 from the NCAA.
Give away tickets to the meet? Can't be done if the kids are in grades 9-12, unless you're not charging admission to anyone.
Promotions are always much more difficult than they seem. Try giving away tickets to elementary school kids. The schools often don't want them because the cost of the bus and driver, teacher and chaperones can be prohibitively expensive.
>Coaches need to be "promoters"
>as well as the guys who dispense workouts.
Yes, and the Athletic Dept, especially the Soprts Info Staff, must spend more than 1 hour per week working w/ T&F. The sport doesn't make money because no one invests in it. If the schools gave a damn, so would the fans.
>>Coaches need to be "promoters"
>as well as
>the guys who dispense workouts.
Yes, and the
>Athletic Dept, especially the Soprts Info Staff,
>must spend more than 1 hour per week working w/
>T&F. The sport doesn't make money because no one
>invests in it. If the schools gave a damn, so
>would the fans.
I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure. It's kind of a chicken and egg thing...do the AD's not promote T&F because no one cares or does no one care because the AD's don't promote it? I'm afraid that any marketing done by the athletic department would not be terribly fruitful. As Yogi Berra said, if people don't want to come to the ballpark, you can't stop 'em.
I've heard stories from Tennessee fans that the Dogwood Relays (called that b/f Sea Ray boat company picked up sponsorship) had SRO crowds and that there was excitement and electricity at the meets. "Like a football game," one fan told me. You wonder what has happened. But when even Oregon's crowds are not what they used to be, something is wrong.
I think there are two factors that are important -- getting the word out and keeping the meet concise, which is tough in college. The Boston Indoor Games, when it started in 1997 didn't even sell out (although Dave Dopek pulled off a great upset of Calvin Davis). Now Reggie Lewis is packed, I mean really packed almost to the point that the fire department better not show up to take a peek. In the last few years, the meet organizers (Wetmore ?) have bombarded the general public for 1-2 months up to the meet. They put ads in all the subways (encourging folks to take the subway to Reggie) and all of the free daily quick-read subway newspapers (the Boston Metro), as well as occasional ads in the regular papers. Everyone knows when its happening. Also, its not a very long meet (2-3 hours). This keeps the interest of the fans. How collegiate meets can accomplish this I'm not sure yet, but these two issues I think are important to giving it a shot.