Typical reaction from wealthy programs that don't realize how privileged they are. You take one step to level the playing field between teams in big and small programs, and the SEC howls like they won't still win the NCAA.
Maybe if regionals had taken place a few years ago, there still would be more competition from the mid-major programs, instead of the massive cuts we've seen. I've never heard that Tennessee might eliminate their men's track program -- I think schools in the MAC (the ones left, that is) have a lot more to complain about.
It's about time that someone shows the complaints about regionals as what they are: a tug-of-war between the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots won the war of numbers and got regionals put in place, but the haves get all the press.
I'm going to Ohio State this weekend to see a great meet. The fans aren't bitching, only those who are in a situation where they actually have to beat people to get to the NCAA.
>The fans aren't bitching, only those who
>are in a situation where they actually have to
>beat people to get to the NCAA.
The fans aren't bitching because, sadly, there aren't many. Track & field is hardly a blip on the radar screen in American sports, and no one cares any more about it just because the NCAA added a silly meet.
The NCAA did not add the meet. The coaches' association made the decision -- it was not forced upon us by outsiders. And if there are no track fans left, why are we here?
I'm looking forward to a good meet this week, where team scores will be kept between some of the best teams from the SEC, Big 10, and MAC. I'll get to see the best distance runners from Eastern Michigan and Arkansas go at it (Desilets v Lincoln, Cheboiywo v Cragg).
No offense to the Tennessee program, but the one year I went to the Sea Ray Relays I was bored to death. Sure, there was a windy 19.8 in the 200, but it was one of a dozen or so heats, so who could follow the action?
I've been looking forward to this regional meet for months. I can't remember the last time I could say the same thing about a collegiate meet other than NCAA's.
The story in the Knoxville paper talked about how it was costing the Vols something like an extra $20,000 to add in the Regionals. I wonder how much they saved in travel expenses this year not worrying about sending athletes hither, thither and yon in search of automatic Qs?
I highly doubt that any of the powerhouses went out of their way to send their second-raters to out-of-the-way meets just to get one of those easy Regional qualifiers like they used to do for the Nationals. Any athlete who is likely to score for them at Nationals is going to get a Regional Q the minute they fall out of bed.
\>The fans aren't
>bitching because, sadly, there aren't many. Track
>& field is hardly a blip on the radar screen in
>American sports, and no one cares any more about
>it just because the NCAA added a silly meet.
While I'm hard-pressed to argue with you (attendance was pathetic at the Big 12 Championships here in Austin last week), I will say that I personally am certainly eager to attend a Regional. Midwest is at Texas A&M next year, and I'm definitely going. If it's within 100 miles, I'm there.
Well, the biggest complaints about regionals seem to be 1) it's one more high-level competition for athletes and 2) it's another expensive road trip which strains the budget. These are problems that individual teams can solve by eliminating one road trip to a big invitational (such as the Sea Ray Relays). The writer was implying that fans would be a lot happier if they did.
>I agree completely. Every other sport has
>playoffs; are we too good for that?
Well, there is one sport that doesn't have a playoff...do I need to mention which one? The regional concept is a good thing. Worried about the expense of traveling to the meet? Well, eliminate travel to a big invitational away meet, and you're even (or ahead, because you're likely to take fewer athletes to region than to an invitational). Fans love head to head competition. As a spectator, one thing at meets I hate is watching heat after heat after heat of certain events not knowing who's in first, or any other position. Give me a race with a trip to nats on the line...greatness.
>Well, the biggest complaints about regionals seem
>to be 1) it's one more high-level competition for
>athletes and 2) it's another expensive road trip
>which strains the budget. These are problems
>that individual teams can solve by eliminating
>one road trip to a big invitational (such as the
>Sea Ray Relays). The writer was implying that
>fans would be a lot happier if they did.
Which fans would be happier? Fans in Knoxville wouldn't be happier if teams had to choose b/t regionals and Sea Rays. Are you referring to track fans in general? Or fans who happen to live in cities hosting regionals?
>>What do the Sea Rays have to do with the NCAA Regionals???>>
Tennessee, like most big schools, complains about the regionals. But what do they bring to the table in the way of enjoyable track meets? Certainly not the Sea Ray Relays. I'd rather watch regionals, or a dual meet.
I remember sitting next to a Big 12 coach on the plane to NCAA Indoors a few years back. We discussed the possibility of regionals. I said that it would provide, if nothing else, four more excellent meets with head-to-head competition. He replied, "We've got good meets. That's not the problem." I didn't want to argue that any meet his school hosted was surely boring as heck, so I said nothing.
Coaches complain about regionals, but when was the last time they paid to watch a meet? Or simply watched a meet as a fan? Most collegiate meets are simply unwatchable. But I'm fired up for the regional at Stanford this weekend.
If the point of regionals was to increase visibility of the sport, it has failed miserably. The East region is at Mason, and the coverage in the DC area has been almost nil. Indeed, if you didn't already know the meet was going to be here, you wouldn't know it now, based on the coverage in the local media, which, by the way, covers track better than most places in the US. This despite the fact that many local athletes are competing, from G-town, American, UVA, etc.
Rumor has it that the Stanford SID office was blown away at the (large) number of credential requests received.
Also talked to Bob Fraley of Fresno State last night, who said "it's all about perception." (Fraley, recall, gave up his $93,000 salary in exchange for the school not killing track)
By that, he meant that coincidentally he had been chatting with the university president who had asked, by way of being friendly, "how many kids you taking to Regionals?" and when Bob said "20" the president said, "20?! And we're thinking of cancelling your sport?!"
>I'm looking forward to a good meet this week, where team scores will be kept between some of the best teams from the SEC, Big 10, and MAC. I'll get to see the best distance runners from Eastern Michigan and Arkansas go at it (Desilets v
Lincoln, Cheboiywo v Cragg).<
One important aspect of the regionals that remains to be seen is how the athletes and teams treat these meets. Are Desilets and Lincoln going to exert themselves to win and become a regional champion, or will they think of the meet solely as a qualifying competition for the nationals. If it's the latter, you could see them behave the way they would in a heat--the two of them 40 meters ahead of everyone else and jogging the last lap because they're both assured of the only thing they came for--qualification for the nationals. But if beong a regional champion is perceived by the runners to have meaning (and it should), then there really could be some wonderful competition this weekend. I guess we'll know more soon enough.
Tennessee, like most big
>schools, complains about the regionals. But what
>do they bring to the table in the way of
>enjoyable track meets? Certainly not the Sea Ray
I understand what you're saying. I enjoy Sea Ray because it is at my school and because I am proud of the track tradition at Tennessee. And there is usually some great action -- even if you have to be a track junkie to appreciate it.
But normally when I'm in the stands, my head is churning thinking of ways the meet could be so much better.
SR usually produces world class results (although this past year it seemed like the results were not as good as usual). But even if they mixed the Volunteer Relays (big HS meet) with it and had crowds approaching those of Texas Relays, it still would have something missing. Watching ten heats of the 100 m dash does get to be a bit too much. Especially when I think I could beat some of the guys in the tenth heat.
But how to have an exciting track meet is, of course, not a problem unique to Sea Ray. We'll see how the Regionals work out. It should be interesting -- and those fans lucky enough to see them in person are in for some great action.
Do you have any suggestions on how to improve Sea Ray? How is Sea Ray different from Texas, Penn, Drake, Mt. SAC, etc., as far as organization of the meet? I'd be very interesting in reading your comments.
>Do you have any suggestions on how to improve Sea
Ray? How is Sea Ray different from Texas, Penn,
Drake, Mt. SAC, etc., as far as organization of
the meet? I'd be very interesting in reading
How is Sea Ray different from Penn? That's like asking how a chair is different from a hippopotamus. They're not at all comparable.
>important aspect of the regionals that remains
>to be seen is how the athletes and teams treat
>these meets. Are Desilets and Lincoln going to
>exert themselves to win and become a regional
>champion, or will they think of the meet solely
>as a qualifying competition for the nationals.
>If it's the latter, you could see them behave
>e the way they would in a heat--the two of them
>40 meters ahead of everyone else and jogging the
>last lap because they're both assured of the only
>thing they came for--qualification for the
>nationals. But if beong a regional champion is
>perceived by the runners to have meaning (and it
>should), then there really could be some
>wonderful competition this weekend. I guess
>we'll know more soon enough.
To the average fan (those whom the powers that be are hoping to attract), it doesn't matter. American pro sports are geared around scoring a lot of points/runs/goals and the only thing John Q. Fan understands about "amateur" sports are things like finishing in the top places to qualify. This is why the Olympic Trials are always so popular to the common viewer: finish in the top three, you go to The Games. No occaisional fan understands a scenario where the guy winning the race doesn't go on but the guy finishing third does because he ran a faster time earlier in the season. Why am I bothering to watch this? could be the legitimate question asked.
Regionals--finish in the top five to get to the NCAA "Olympics." Any fan can get into that concept!
Thanks for making it so clear, Steve. Now I can e-mail GH and tell him to quit putting all those damn times, heights and distances in TN. It's all about places, so I sure don't need to be reading that useless other information.
I'm a track fan & I'm "bitching" about the new format. So are most people who I know. I'm not a coach, I'm not a track official, I'm not or didn't used to be a collegiate athlete, nor am I a parent of one. College track meets are arguably already too long. Why make nationals 40% bigger with lesser talents? If regionals was all that in terms of spectatorship & publicity, then cross-country regionals would all that. It's not. The previous system was hardly perfect, but this one is more problematic. What was needed was more marketing savvy, not regionals!
>Thanks for making it so clear, Steve. Now I can
>e-mail GH and tell him to quit putting all those
>damn times, heights and distances in TN. It's all
>about places, so I sure don't need to be reading
>that useless other information.
make sure to also tell him that medals should be given for fastest time of the year, not for coming in first on the right day. el g may be happy to know that he has a couple of mis-awarded golds coming his way. same for mamede, etc.
>I'm a track fan & I'm "bitching" about the new
>format. So are most people who I know. I'm not a
>coach, I'm not a track official, I'm not or
>didn't used to be a collegiate athlete, nor am I
>a parent of one. College track meets are arguably
>already too long. Why make nationals 40% bigger
>with lesser talents? If regionals was all that in
>terms of spectatorship & publicity, then
>cross-country regionals would all that. It's not.
>The previous system was hardly perfect, but this
>one is more problematic. What was needed was more
>marketing savvy, not regionals!
why not both? admittedly, most of the promotion of t&f on u.s. soil is essentially ineffective. iirc (someone correct me if i have this wrong), the increase of field size was passed independently of (or was not contingent upon) the move to the regional format. also, implementation of the format has no direct effect on the length of any other track meets besides regionals and nationals. finally, to analogize cross with outdoor t&f is highly simplistic - do not compare kumquats to grapefruit. when was the last time world cross or u.s. cross nationals were broadcast in the u.s.?
>make sure to also tell him that
>medals should be given for fastest time of the
>year, not for coming in first on the right day.
>el g may be happy to know that he has a couple
>of mis-awarded golds coming his way. same for
Drew, "do not compare kumquats to grapefruit."
I am quite certain El Guerrouj was awarded his spot on the Moroccan Olympic team based on his times, not his placings at the Moroccan Nationals.
>>make sure to also tell him that
>be given for fastest time of the
>year, not for
>coming in first on the right day.
>el g may be
>happy to know that he has a couple
>mis-awarded golds coming his way. same
>"do not compare
>kumquats to grapefruit."
I am quite certain
>El Guerrouj was awarded his spot on the Moroccan
>Olympic team based on his times, not his placings
>at the Moroccan Nationals.
maybe i misunderstood - what exactly does having marks listed in t&fn have to do with ncaa/wc/oly participant fields and subsequent fan interest, and vice versa? help me see this connection between cherries and watermelons . . . is that supposed to mean that fans would be more interested in a scenario which scraps the u.s. champs/trials as the determinant of u.s. teams for international competitions in favor of a system not unlike that of morocco, kenya, etc. where the t&fn performance lists determine who goes and who stays home?
at some point in the process certainly qualifying marks would be necessary for determining participants, but is it necessarily the best route to do so to directly fill fields at a championship meet, all things considered, especially when no other way has been tried in recent memory? while i believe that the regional system for the ncaa holds great potential, i am indeed skeptical on how effective it will end up being at both ensuring a quality meet and drawing fan interest - i am just not ready to immediately damn it before ever seeing a decent set of resultant data, either.
i like the idea, but the format sounds ridiculous as most athletes are in the east and mideast. i would rather see either the regionals or the conference meets cut. i bet most athletes in ten days will be barely hanging on and i am sure only the ones who started late or skipped a few meets will be able to compete at the usatf in 3 weeks.
As I understand it, the regionals was divided up with the intent of splitting the elite programs evenly but in doing so, the east and mideast ended up with far more "non-elite" schools. The east region had about 100 colleges while the west had under 50. As a result, even though the qualifiers may be roughly comparable from each region, the fields for some events in the east were huge. Some tweaking is in order.
I thought of this a long time ago -- I guess only a nerd like me would come up with it.
The regional qualifying marks were pegged at about 100th on last year's collegiate lists. Obviously far more than 100 made it into most events, because the marks suddenly became significant where they hadn't been the year before.
Will next year's regional qualifying marks be re-adjusted to 100th on this year's list? If so, most regional fields won't be quite as big.
>>>Do you have any suggestions on how to improve Sea Ray? How is Sea Ray different from Texas, Penn, Drake, Mt. SAC, etc., as far as organization of the meet? I'd be very interesting in reading your comments.>>>
I did not mean to single out the Sea Ray Relays for criticism. I know how hard it is to put on such a meet and I mean no ill will toward the Tennessee program. But my remarks were in response to quotes from Bill Webb.
The Sea Ray Relays will never be Zurich. It can't and it shouldn't. It's a different animal. But what I think such a meet as SRR can do a better job of is creating windows of, say, several hours of excellent track that an average sports or Tennessee fan would enjoy.
Okay, it's a 3-day meet, but on Saturday, have a 3-hour window with all the relay finals (not multiple sections thereof) and some excellent field events. A good announcer with spotting/field event communication is also key to the spectator's enjoyment.
If you're going to have an open men's 200, run heats on Friday and have a final on Saturday, don't just make it 12 timed finals.
There's no easy answer to the problems of collegiate track. But I think regionals are a step in the right direction. Now with a lessened need to chase marks, perhaps more meets like the Sea Ray Relays, can cut down on individual events and concentrate on what fans like, relays against rival schools.
Enjoyed the comments. I agree all around. They have got to change the format so there is, as you said, a window of great track and field for a few hours. The ten timed finals are awful. Are you reading this, Bill Webb and Charles Oliver??? I think the format is one reason the quality in the meet has gone down in recent years.
You mentioned track announcer. Tom Black Track has gone from one of the best to one of the worst in recent years. Now, I haven't seen a meet there in about five years (depressing to think it's been so long), but Dr. Buck Jones hung up the mike about 7 years ago, I believe. I'm not even sure if he did the NCAAs in '95. Somebody terrible took over. I think it's some former Vol track athlete. Awful.
Dr. Jones gave introductions that made you feel like you were at the Olympics. He added tidbits during races that added to what he already said in introductions. He described race strategy during 5 and 10Ks. He got the fans to get involved during crucial times in longer races. I've told him many times that the Vol program is not what it used to be since he left. But I guess he's done with PA work -- unfortunately.