Why is high school track stuck in the past?


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Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby AlfTupper » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:29 pm

I'm talking about those ludicrous distances, 1600m and 3200m. Why are the officials still clinging to the old 1 and 2 mile races? Even the British went metric on the track 50 years ago. It's also time for US track meets to go fully metric and stop giving results in feet and inches.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Jackaloupe » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:40 pm

It's also time for US track meets to go fully metric and stop giving results in feet and inches.

What, and mystify the few fans they have, incl. parents?

Face it, the US can't even handle decimals. Ever try to buy a sensible single portion of meat/fish, ~0.4 lbs (forget Kilos!)? People not only ask for fractions (and have the decimals translated back to "a little more than 1/3 of a pound"); and forget about asking for 4/10ths, which mystifies many a young purveyor, who might barely understand "zero point four oh".

No need for T&F to pioneer a lost cause. Just teach kids to multiply meters by three and add (almost) 10%. [Conversion is 3.28 x m.]/ At least that's close enough for Altitude.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby AlfTupper » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:55 pm

I was hoping that a "cold turkey" switch to metric in T&F would force people to learn, but that's unlikely, as you say. Sadly, most current college graduates (forget high school) can barely do elementary arithmetic.

I still think that 1600m and 3200m are more confusing to "regular folks" than 1500m and 3000m, which are at least international standard distances.

Quick tips:
To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 30 and divide by 2. Close enough for government work. To convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit, double it and add 30.
1 liter = about 1 quart
1 meter = a bit more than 3 feet
100m = 1 football field or so

Really, how hard is it?
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby aaronk » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:16 am

I can see the future book title now.........

Roger Bannister: World's First 1609.1 Meters Sub-4.

:lol:
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby polevaultpower » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:33 am

Parents and casual fans can understand that their kid is running 4 laps around the track, and that it's about a mile. It kills track purists, but I think it makes sense for that level.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:26 pm

polevaultpower wrote:Parents and casual fans can understand that their kid is running 4 laps around the track, and that it's about a mile. It kills track purists, but I think it makes sense for that level.


It is a fine distance for high school. The only problem, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is when school officials don't realize that a mile is longer than 1600...Or seem to think it is an entirely new event, and old records get tossed out. And sadly it happens. Ugh.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:28 pm

AlfTupper wrote:I'm talking about those ludicrous distances, 1600m and 3200m.

Shouldn't the title of this thread be "Why is high school track stuck in an alternative reality?"?

AlfTupper wrote:I still think that 1600m and 3200m are more confusing to "regular folks" than 1500m and 3000m, which are at least international standard distances.

I think the real problem is that regular folks don't even think much further than laps. So two, four and eight lap race works well for them.
Last edited by Daisy on Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby CookyMonzta » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:31 pm

AlfTupper wrote:I was hoping that a "cold turkey" switch to metric in T&F would force people to learn, but that's unlikely, as you say. Sadly, most current college graduates (forget high school) can barely do elementary arithmetic.

:!: DIIIIIIIINNNNG!! DIIIIIIIINNNNG!! :!:
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby kuha » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:33 pm

Daisy wrote:
AlfTupper wrote:I'm talking about those ludicrous distances, 1600m and 3200m.

Shouldn't the title of this thread be "Why is high school track stuck in an alternative reality?"?


Exactly. "The past" was just fine--with the mile and 2 mile; it's the no-where-land of the present that's the problem.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:34 pm

AlfTupper wrote:Sadly, most current college graduates (forget high school) can barely do elementary arithmetic.

My experience is that they can do it, but only in the context of an SAT, or similar, exam question. Get them to apply it to genetics and they become frozen.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby lonewolf » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:04 pm

I haven't taken inventory of every HS track in the US but I Google Earth scan a lot and I suspect many/most are still 440 yd tracks. So, mile and two mile make sense. On 400m tracks, 1,2 4, 8 laps make more sense than jiggering the starting lines... if people don't know the difference in metric/imperial they won't appreciate the time anyway.
The 1500, of course, makes no sense at any level.. unless you are running 3 laps on a 500 m track or 5 laps on a 300 m track.
I have been doing/watching track for seventy years and still don't know how to time splits in the 1500. :?
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:16 pm

lonewolf wrote:The 1500, of course, makes no sense at any level.. unless you are running 3 laps on a 500 m track or 5 laps on a 300 m track.

Great for the starting crew. It gives them a bit of exercise.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby polevaultpower » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:35 pm

lonewolf wrote:I haven't taken inventory of every HS track in the US but I Google Earth scan a lot and I suspect many/most are still 440 yd tracks. So, mile and two mile make sense. On 400m tracks, 1,2 4, 8 laps make more sense than jiggering the starting lines... if people don't know the difference in metric/imperial they won't appreciate the time anyway.



Every high school rubber track I have been on is 400m, not 440y, except one, and they had the start lines adjusted to compensate. I think track made the switch in the late 70s, and no rubber track has lasted that long, so I think the older ones eventually got upgraded as the tracks got resurfaced.

At least that's true up here in the Pacific NW, can't speak for the rest of the country.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:45 pm

lonewolf wrote:I suspect many/most are still 440 yd tracks.

I haven't seen a 440y track in over 10 years and that's almost 100 HS tracks up and down the East seaboard.

The key facts are these:

1. USAians don't get the metric system, so it's pointless to to ram it down their throats at a HS track meet.
2. HS track meets are run in a universe unto themselves and in that universe the 1600/3200 makes perfect sense and the Mile/2-Mile and 1500/3000 make NO sense.

You can try and deny those facts all you wish, but they are FACTS nonetheless.

signed,

a VERY typical HS track coach and enthusiast.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby jhc68 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:54 am

But lonewolf IS right about the 1500. The initial presumption in this thread is skewed... we ought to be asking why international distances are stuck on multiples of 5 instead of distances which conform to 400 meter tracks that are required for any sanctioned event. 1500 or 3000 meter races are random and make less sense than 1600 and 3200. Might as well split the difference and run 1550 and 3100. Once the distance does not correspond to the oval all races are equally illogical and stuck on nothing more than past practice.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:22 am

Obviously I cannot always determine a track's surface or dimension from Google Earth.. my assumption was based on what I perceived to be the predominance of tracks with the pre-400 elongated configuration...
Again, I am speculating but I suspect many HS football/track stadiums will not accomodate the wider turns of modern 400 m tracks.
But then, whadda I know? My HS class is planning its 63rd reunion and the track and building have been reclaimed by Mother Nature.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby gh » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:42 am

ahhh... our annual metric thread. I've missed you.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby kuha » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:55 am

Yes...it's like a worn but lovable old teddy bear.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby dj » Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:14 pm

lonewolf wrote:Obviously I cannot always determine a track's surface or dimension from Google Earth.. my assumption was based on what I perceived to be the predominance of tracks with the pre-400 elongated configuration...
Again, I am speculating but I suspect many HS football/track stadiums will not accomodate the wider turns of modern 400 m tracks.
But then, whadda I know? My HS class is planning its 63rd reunion and the track and building have been reclaimed by Mother Nature.


The vast majority of high school and college tracks in the Philadelphia area occupy the same footprint they did before they were reconfigured in the 1980s. All that happened was that one turn was pulled in by shortening each straightaway by 3'10". The arc of the curve remained the same, the radius was the same, the look of the track was the same. The only difference was the straights being slightly shorter.

I suspect the only remaining 440 tracks were the cinder/dirt tracks which were never given a hard surface. Only the very few tracks that were constructed after 1980 would have modern configurations with broad curves.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:35 pm

That probably explains it... but does not address the absurdity of the 1500 m. :)
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby gwwayne » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:18 am

Here it is -- plain and simple -- a lot of high school staff members also coach football. They live everything in their lives by yards. And, that group didn't want the 1500 and 3000.

Most states upgrades to meters after the 1980 Olympics.

Some states incorported the 1500 and 3000, then under pressure from the National Federation--switched to the 1600 and 3200.

A few hold outs (Oregon, Hawaii, and Rhode Island) exist. New York does the 1500 and 3k for girls, 1600 and 3200 for boys (why--I don't know).

But, for records purposes--after over 30 years--why change now?

America doesn't want to except the metric system. After all, it is easier than the imperical system. Guess we are simply stuck in a rut.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Dave » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:30 am

HS can get rid of the english measurements when football, basketball, and baseball use metric measurements.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby aaronk » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:45 pm

I LOVE T&FN!!!!
I said that, because I strongly disagree with them translating 1600 times into mile times!!
Take the most perfect scientifically measured differentiations, a 1600 is just that--a 1600!!
And a mile will always be 9+ meters farther!!!

While "average" finishes are given, shit happens!!
Remember Devers in Barcelona!!
Went from 1st to 5th in the last 10 meters!!

Plus, what do you do when one guy finishes in 54 secs, another in 62??
Their last 9+ meters are probably different too!!!

In my personally-compiled record book, I don't list ANY 1600 times (or 3200 times!!!).
In the 3200/2 mile, there's 18+ meters of space where anything can happen!!!

Averages are fine in many cases, but NOT in a sport where times are measured in 100ths, and distances in centimeters!!!

All I'm asking is that there be SEPARATE lists for 1600's and 1 mile's (ditto: 3200/2 mile)!!
Until then, I fully understand the "average" fan's confusion!!

Also, if you're going to keep the 1500/3000 AND the 1 and 2 mile, how about timing the 1500/3000 ENROUTE!!!
How many GREAT 1500/3000 times were LOST because of not being timed enroute??
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby kuha » Sat Jul 07, 2012 2:04 pm

aaronk wrote:I fully understand the "average" fan's confusion!!


!!

But the "average fan" doesn't even think about this stuff. It really makes no sense to have separate 1600 & mile annual lists.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Jul 07, 2012 2:25 pm

kuha wrote:
aaronk wrote:I fully understand the "average" fan's confusion!!


!!

But the "average fan" doesn't even think about this stuff. It really makes no sense to have separate 1600 & mile annual lists.


Right. It is only a 1+ second difference. Hand timing has more variation than any difference in how fast the last 9 meters is.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby mrbowie » Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:17 pm

Too bad Andy Rooney isn't around anymore to read this question aloud, with that whiny voice of his.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby TN1965 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:50 pm

lonewolf wrote:The 1500, of course, makes no sense at any level.. unless you are running 3 laps on a 500 m track or 5 laps on a 300 m track.


Tracks on the continental Europe used to be 500m, when people started competing in 1500m races (according to IAAF).

http://www.iaaf.org/community/athletics ... =9397.html
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:40 pm

TN1965 wrote:
lonewolf wrote:The 1500, of course, makes no sense at any level.. unless you are running 3 laps on a 500 m track or 5 laps on a 300 m track.


Tracks on the continental Europe used to be 500m, when people started competing in 1500m races (according to IAAF).

http://www.iaaf.org/community/athletics ... =9397.html


It says: "The sister distance to the mile (1609.32 m), the 1500m was born on the 500 metre tracks of Continental Europe." I've been contesting that "fact" for years and would love some REAL proof. Simple assertion has nothing to do with proof.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby lonewolf » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:17 pm

Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby TN1965 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:28 pm

lonewolf wrote:Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?


Aren't they... uh, "stuck in the past"?
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:12 pm

lonewolf wrote:Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?


Simply because it's NOT the mile, and therefore NOT English. It's a ridiculous reason, but there it is.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby skyin' brian » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:10 am

If the mile is so much better than the 1600, I want to know where the outcry is to bring back the 880y.

I'd wager that most track fans here old enough to remember running a true "mile relay" back in their day are just fine with the 4x400. What does the total distance of that race work out to again?

The reality is that the 1600 runner, the 1500 specialist, and the dude that used to run the mile are all milers. It isn't the exact distance that matters as much as the effort to get to the finish line first.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby runforlife » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:20 pm

AlfTupper wrote:I'm talking about those ludicrous distances, 1600m and 3200m.

Why don't you just get over it??? In the midwest they ran the HS 2 mile for 14 years and the 3200m for 33 years now. If you really wanted for us to take any credence in your aguments they should have been made at least 30 years ago.
Really, you kind of sound like those whiney old men in IN who still complain about the HS 4 class basktball system even after a dozen years.
Please just accept it for what it is.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Marlow » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:41 pm

runforlife wrote:
AlfTupper wrote:I'm talking about those ludicrous distances, 1600m and 3200m.

Why don't you just get over it??? In the midwest they ran the HS 2 mile for 14 years and the 3200m for 33 years now. If you really wanted for us to take any credence in your aguments they should have been made at least 30 years ago.
Really, you kind of sound like those whiney old men in IN who still complain about the HS 4 class basktball system even after a dozen years.
Please just accept it for what it is.

Nice! I've been wanting to say that for EVER, but lacked the . . . moxie . . . to say it! :wink:
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby AlfTupper » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:37 pm

runforlife wrote:In the midwest they ran the HS 2 mile for 14 years and the 3200m for 33 years now. If you really wanted for us to take any credence in your aguments they should have been made at least 30 years ago.

Thank you for making my point for me. The "argument" that "we've always done it this way" is precisely what those "whiney old men" use to justify not keeping up with the times. BTW, I wasn't around 30 years ago.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby James Fields » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:51 pm

I suspect the only remaining 440 tracks were the cinder/dirt tracks which were never given a hard surface.

________

The local school a few blocks from our house has a 440-yard asphalt-surface track -- which I discovered merely by accident when measuring and painting 4x100m relay exchange zones, part of my volunteer service to the school's athletics program.

Now and then I see an older runner doing a set of 10 or 20 one-lap repeats (or sometimes a long continuous run with splits noted and perhaps recorded by a friend). When I inform them that each of their timed laps is a bit longer than they had believed, it seems to make their day.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:00 pm

James Fields wrote:When I inform them that each of their timed laps is a bit longer than they had believed, it seems to make their day.

Yes, but they probably referred to them as quarters anyway!
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby cawong » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:33 pm

lonewolf wrote:Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?


There is an incredibly important reason, though probably not historical, as to why the 1500 metres is superior to the 1600 metres/one mile race, and that is precisely the fact that the race is started on a straight rather than a curve. Until they run one mile races with only a maximum of 8 or 9 competitors, starting in lanes, I would absolutely refuse to run such a race. I've seen way too many mad scrambles at the beginning of such races.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:31 pm

cawong wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?


There is an incredibly important reason, though probably not historical, as to why the 1500 metres is superior to the 1600 metres/one mile race, and that is precisely the fact that the race is started on a straight rather than a curve. Until they run one mile races with only a maximum of 8 or 9 competitors, starting in lanes, I would absolutely refuse to run such a race. I've seen way too many mad scrambles at the beginning of such races.


:lol: Yes, the history of mile running is pretty much the same as the history of demolition derby: crashes left, right, and center. It's actually rare that all the runners in a mile race actually make it through the first lap. Thank God for the sanity of the 1500!
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby cawong » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:31 pm

kuha wrote: :lol: Yes, the history of mile running is pretty much the same as the history of demolition derby: crashes left, right, and center. It's actually rare that all the runners in a mile race actually make it through the first lap. Thank God for the sanity of the 1500!


Haha, yeah, it's not that bad, but there is definitely something to be said for the convenience of starting on a straight. I have seen a fair amount of elbowing and bumping in the openings of 3000 and 5000 metre races before. I suppose this probably does not affect high-school level runners very much, since there is much less in the way of tactics.
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