I heard from a WVU student(not a track athlete) this weekend who said that there is such an uproar that things may change by week's end. The president, trustees, etc. were not aware of the decision according to protestors who had breakfast on the president's lawn. Now, the real news, as a reply to your post: The protest and uproar is because the 'rifle team' is one of the cut programs. They have a very rich tradition including several NCAA championships. Track & field may ride their coat-tails. Apparently rifle holds more status than track & field. DA, I do agree with your assumption. I feel our coaches (T&F) are lacking in promoting our sport and thus, most programs are expendable when the budget is overdrawn.
To draw the rooting interest of the casual fan, there needs to be more team scoring at any level. How about this for an idea? No qualifying times or marks allowed for regionals or nationals unless the time or mark occured in a meet with team scoring.
I liked the idea of the college quad meets a few years ago but think they would draw more interest in a tournament format. How about Nike sponsoring a tournament for a Bowerman trophy: four powerhouse quad meets in the four sections of the country with the winners advancing to a final four. Great for television and it might draw some spectators. It would be more of a true college team championship than the NCAA meet provides.
I don't buy the argument that team competition is the key to track's salvation in this country. I see that as a shortsighted idea based on the assumption that track has to follow in the same pattern as other popular sports to attract fans. At the Div. I level there aren't enough scholarships available to do team competition justice, so a steady stream of dual meets would be dull.
At the high school level, the most exciting U.S. meet I know of on a year-in-year-out basis is the California State meet (maybe other State meets too, I only know my own state), and team competition there is generally of secondary interest compared to the high-level competition in each event.
Please question the dogma that team competition is the answer.
I think that marketing must be done..take a look at moto cross racing or any of these extreme sports..proper marketing...if you had a large track meet..a live band..as rocking band that played between races..huge barbaques..something like that ..maybe you would attract more people..loud announcers...the question is do you really want what you have to do to attract the masses..??..and do ADs want to make track succesful..?
Yes, marketing has to be done. Most College Sports Info Depts don't give a rat's behind about the T&F programs. This is the last program they will write about and will not spend an extra moment covering them at all. You'll find that they rarely send anyone out to their own meets, let alone the away meets. You'll never find any PR done on campus about the meets either, unless the coach makes his own flyers and has the athletes hand them out. When you get a coach that won't do this, because he/she doesn't have the talent or desire, he/she gets their just deserts.
I believe that team scoring can help. Would it be the sport's salvation? No. Would it generate at least some additional interest? I think so. During my college track days, it was always odd to return from a meet and have a non-running friend aske me who won and, well, I couldn't really answer that question. That friend probably wondered why he should sit at a track meet all day when there's no winner at the end.
I have to disagree with your assumption that team competitions are not the way to go. By the contrary, track and field in this country continues to lose interest because people are tired of seeing the invitational format. They are too long, and if your a fan of one program, the sparcity of athletes from your particular school competing in a cohesive format makes for a boring meet. Rivalries are what make sports interesting, not just fast times.
I think Ron Allice at USC, who has put together one of the most competitive dual meet teams in the country is proof that you do not need a lot of scholarships to have a competitive dual meet team. He has done it, not only with limited scholarships, but at a private school, where the cost of education prohibits the amount of walk-ons that you would have at a state school.
Well said, James. Invitationals that last all day, when "your" team only competes occasionaly, and there is no team winner at the end of the day...any wonder why college track has such limited fan following?