Return to the Mile?


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Return to the Mile?

Postby decafan » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:12 am

There is a link to an article on the front page calling for a return to the mile. Just a couple of random thoughts on this subject:
1. I like the mile. I think it is a terrific event, but this idea is a short term fix to increase interest among people who know their history. It's short term because most of the people who fondly remember the mile are OLD at at least getting old. They are aging out of their relevance to this conversation.
2. The rest of the world contests the 1500m because they made the logical switch to the metric system decades ago. This system failed in the US because the adults who made decisions at that time didn't want to have to adapt (IMO). I was one of the kids learning the metric system in grade school and found it logical and very easy to learn. Miles, yards, feet and inches are mostly American and NOT popular outside of our borders. The idea we could impose our will to return to the mile on the global world of track and field is naive and arrogant. It will never happen. The idea to return to the mile in only the US is even sillier if we are serious about the Olympics and World Championships (and any other international event of significance).
3. I miss the mile too. I also miss rotary dial phones, record albums and sex after marriage. Times change. The best we can do is remember the good 'ole times fondly and move on. There is no future in the Mile.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:25 am

Depressing but true. :(
I am one of those OLD folks nostalgic over the mile. Unfortunately, the 400 meter tracks eliminate the simplicity of four equal laps but is a start line 7 yards before the finish line any sillier than starting a race 100 meters beyond the finish line.
Where do you time the splits? start point? finish line? Do you time the first 300, then last three 400s or first three 400s and final 300? :?
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby aaronk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:32 am

Won't reprint your post, since it's the only one here....so far! :)
But I'd like to respond to your comments.

1. True. The mile will be a relic found in antique stores after all us Old Farts have gone to T&F Heaven (or Hell!!!).

2. You say that English distances (yards, feet, miles, etc) isn't popular outside the USA. Maybe not NOW!! But WE...the USA...didn't start the English measuring system. Wasn't that the British?? And if you recall, Australia and Britain and NZ and Canada all honored (and used) that English system. I remember Ron Clarke setting a 10 MILE record. Bannister ran a MILE, not 1500 meters. Herb Elliott set the MILE record. Even in the marathon, it was GB which first set the distance at 26 miles and 385 YARDS.....to accomodate the Queen who wanted to see the finsh of the race!! So they measured an extra portion of the race so it would end before the Queen's box, and that distance came to be 26 Miles and 385 YARDS....NOT 42,195 METERS!!!
And today, people EVERYWHERE still refer to the marathon distance in MILES and YARDS....and the marathon is much more omnipresent than the mile!!

3. Sad!! I too miss dial phones, record albums, typewriters (Actually, I DON'T miss the typewriter, as I bought a refurbished S-C XL1900...same one I'd used for 25-30 years before it broke down...a year ago!!), transister radios, the Beatles and Beachboys in the INNOCENT years, not to mention girls BEFORE they discovered fake boobs!! :D

Add to #2: And didn't the Commonwealth Games use MILES and YARD distances....even when the Olympic Games had resurrected itself in the metric system? I remember CG results from one, three, and six MILE races!!
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Marlow » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:41 am

A great Yogism: This is like deja vu all over again.

:wink:
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby tandfman » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:41 am

aaronk wrote:. . .And didn't the Commonwealth Games use MILES and YARD distances....even when the Olympic Games had resurrected itself in the metric system? I remember CG results from one, three, and six MILE races!!

You have a good memory. The last Commonwealth Games mile was in 1966. The 1970 CG was in the metric system. That was 42 years ago. It's been metric ever since. Get over it.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby kuha » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:05 am

"What a young, strong horse this is!"

"You must be kidding! That horse is dead!"

"Dead? No, no--its perfectly fine; its just resting!"

"It's not resting--it is dead! It is an ex-horse!"

Etc. With apologizes to pythons and parrots.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby bad hammy » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:16 am

tandfman wrote:Get over it.

Kind of like getting over T&F's significantly diminished place in the popular sports pecking order . . .
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Pego » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:22 am

aaronk wrote:And today, people EVERYWHERE still refer to the marathon distance in MILES and YARDS


Not so. My first 30 years I spent in central Europe. Marathon was 42 km and a change, not 26 miles and a change.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:46 am

Welllll, I don't miss rotary phones.. and typewriters.. most of the time..
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Tuariki » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:49 am

Pego wrote:
aaronk wrote:And today, people EVERYWHERE still refer to the marathon distance in MILES and YARDS


Not so. My first 30 years I spent in central Europe. Marathon was 42 km and a change, not 26 miles and a change.


Aaronk is correct if EVERYWHERE is defined as 50 plus year olds from USA, GB, Australia and New Zealand.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby kuha » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:56 am

Tuariki wrote:
Pego wrote:
aaronk wrote:And today, people EVERYWHERE still refer to the marathon distance in MILES and YARDS


Not so. My first 30 years I spent in central Europe. Marathon was 42 km and a change, not 26 miles and a change.


Aaronk is correct if EVERYWHERE is defined as 50 plus year olds from USA, GB, Australia and New Zealand.


I'd guess that 99.9% of Americans under the age of 50 ALSO refer to the distance as 26.2 miles, if they have any clue about it at all.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:39 pm

Make that 99.99 %.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby TN1965 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:13 pm

No. At least half of Americans don't know the marathon distance either by mile or km.

When I finished my first marathon, many people asked "how many miles is that?" And when they see a "26.2" sticker on a car, they have no clue what the number stands for.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby kuha » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:39 am

TN1965 wrote:No. At least half of Americans don't know the marathon distance either by mile or km.

When I finished my first marathon, many people asked "how many miles is that?" And when they see a "26.2" sticker on a car, they have no clue what the number stands for.


Did you miss my "if they have any clue about it at all"?
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby gh » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:07 am

If you've ever worked in meet promotion at trying to sell the sport to the U.S. public, you'd know that the mile remains a huge draw and that the 1500 means nothing.

One's a big winner, the other a big loser. And so long as we continue to measure everything that way (which will probably be forever), that's not going to change. This has nothing to do with old-fogey thinking.

Bottom line: the mile helps keep a faltering sport healthy.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Marlow » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:18 am

gh wrote:the mile remains a huge draw and that the 1500 means nothing. . . . This has nothing to do with old-fogey thinking.

I'll have to disagree. The sport is still ruled by 'fogeys' for whom the Mile is a big deal. But as you go down the ladder through college and into HS (the future of the sport), you'll see that the Mile is a quaint relic, which youngsters have been conditioned to believe is something sacrosanct, but for which that have not much of any personal connection. It's fun to run in a special meet (and they even CALL themselves Milers!), but the cachet event now is the 1500, because that's what the Big Boys run - at NCAA, USATF, Olympics.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby gh » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:44 am

Kids aren't buying tickets or watching meets on TV. You have no connection with how the promotion of the sport actually works; why pretend that you do?
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby aaronk » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:10 am

Marlow wrote:
gh wrote:the mile remains a huge draw and that the 1500 means nothing. . . . This has nothing to do with old-fogey thinking.

I'll have to disagree. The sport is still ruled by 'fogeys' for whom the Mile is a big deal. But as you go down the ladder through college and into HS (the future of the sport), you'll see that the Mile is a quaint relic, which youngsters have been conditioned to believe is something sacrosanct, but for which that have not much of any personal connection. It's fun to run in a special meet (and they even CALL themselves Milers!), but the cachet event now is the 1500, because that's what the Big Boys run - at NCAA, USATF, Olympics.


I say the real culprits here are the people/orgs who foisted that MONSTER, the 1600 meter run (ditto the 3200 meter run vs the REAL two mile!!) upon us!!

How many young or old runners say to their significant others,

"Honey, I'm going to run seven 1600's!! Be back in an hour!!"
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby kuha » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:36 am

gh wrote:If you've ever worked in meet promotion at trying to sell the sport to the U.S. public, you'd know that the mile remains a huge draw and that the 1500 means nothing.

One's a big winner, the other a big loser. And so long as we continue to measure everything that way (which will probably be forever), that's not going to change. This has nothing to do with old-fogey thinking.

Bottom line: the mile helps keep a faltering sport healthy.


Totally true. Like it or not, in the US metric remains--literally--a "foreign language" that has accelerated the alienation of the general public from the sport. We all know that lots of other facts are involved in this (and we don't need to beat that herd of horses again), but the sport's move from imperial to metric has also played a very real, and very negative, role.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Marlow » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:38 am

gh wrote:Kids aren't buying tickets or watching meets on TV. You have no connection with how the promotion of the sport actually works; why pretend that you do?

I don't pretend to sit in the halls of power. Just as you can't pretend to understand how younger people feel about the sport, which I do. The future is in their hands, not yours or mine, or even today's power-brokers.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby tandfman » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:12 am

Sorry, Marlow. I'm with gh on this one. You may be right about the kids who run high school track. Perhaps their enthusiasm is not diminished at all by the metric distances. But they are not the people whom broadcasters rely on to boost their viewership numbers, nor are they the folks who buy tickets to track meets. The promotion of the sport must go far beyond the athletes themselves. And to the average sports fan, and I think this is true of sports fans of all ages, metric distances are a barrier to enjoying the sport.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Marlow » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:36 am

tandfman wrote: to the average sports fan, and I think this is true of sports fans of all ages, metric distances are a barrier to enjoying the sport.

My point was that the 'average fan' is rapidly changing, which 'older people not in daily contact with younger people' can't see (yet). The old paradigm is hanging on by a thread and not for long (10 years out). You are talking about what is right now. I'm talking about what will be soon(er than you think). Track & Field to ALL HS and college kids is metric. In fact, not only are college races in metric, when collegians jump or throw now, the metric IS metric.

I don't believe that 'dumbing down' T&F for the old folks is necessary or in our best interests. Modern fans get that metrics has taken over the sport. They don't come to meets for nostalgia; they come for great new competition.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby tandfman » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:06 am

You think the younger generation of fans is composed of athletes or ex-athletes? I'm not sure that's the case.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby gh » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:21 am

Marlow wrote:
gh wrote:Kids aren't buying tickets or watching meets on TV. You have no connection with how the promotion of the sport actually works; why pretend that you do?

I don't pretend to sit in the halls of power. Just as you can't pretend to understand how younger people feel about the sport, which I do. The future is in their hands, not yours or mine, or even today's power-brokers.


The argument isn't about the future: it's about the NOW. Keeping the sport alive until "the kids" get there, and that's a long way off.

Besides, if it's today's HS athletes who are the fans of tomorrow, they'll be even more turned off by the 1500 (huh, not 4 laps?!!!) than they are the mile. They'll want something they'll never see.

And the real bottom line is that it's not former HS performers who buy the tickets, by and large, to any sport. Never has been, never will be.

This is one of the rocks where "forward thinking" track promoters have foundered since time immemorial. Thinking their fan base comes from former performers. Or worse, from the ranks of the recreational runner, who avoid track meets like the plague.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Marlow » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:36 am

gh wrote:The argument isn't about the future: it's about the NOW. Keeping the sport alive until "the kids" get there, and that's a long way off.

True, see my 'dumbing down' comment above. I think you are projecting what 'much' older fans want.
gh wrote:Besides, if it's today's HS athletes who are the fans of tomorrow, they'll be even more turned off by the 1500 (huh, not 4 laps?!!!) than they are the mile. They'll want something they'll never see.

Huh? So sports should present what is NOT the sport just for the novelty aspect??!!

gh wrote:And the real bottom line is that it's not former HS performers who buy the tickets, by and large, to any sport. Never has been, never will be.

Largely true, but not in T&F (IMO). Our fans DID run track in HS (or have kids who do/did)

gh wrote:This is one of the rocks where "forward thinking" track promoters have foundered since time immemorial. Thinking their fan base comes from former performers. Or worse, from the ranks of the recreational runner, who avoid track meets like the plague.

If your thesis is that we have to 'dumb down' T&F to the clueless, why do you think the Mile is part of the answer? They are no more adept at understanding the 1500, 1600 OR 1609. At least they do know that the Olympics runs the 1500 (if they are indeed a fan), so why watch a dinosaur relic like the Mile?
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby br » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:15 am

I really don't see what all the fuss is about. We're talking about one event here, not a whole parade of imperial distances. Although I would love to see more miles run, I don't think it's practical to alter a high school schedule to replace the 1600m with the mile. All of the big high school invitationals seem to run the mile, so the cream usually rises to the top there. I believe the fastest high school 1600m race is German Fernandez' 4:00.29 at the 2008 California State Meet.

The IAAF has no quarrel with maintaining the allure of the mile. It is, after all, the only non-metric track event recognized by the IAAF.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby gh » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:47 pm

Marlow wrote:....
If your thesis is that we have to 'dumb down' T&F to the clueless, why do you think the Mile is part of the answer? They are no more adept at understanding the 1500, 1600 OR 1609. At least they do know that the Olympics runs the 1500 (if they are indeed a fan), so why watch a dinosaur relic like the Mile?


You keep making the classic mistake of thinking that the sport depends on "track & field fans." That's a rare species, whose likes and dislikes have virtually nothing to do with the life of the sport. We need to attract Joe Sixpack, just like even the most successful sports do. And you don't do it by speaking a foreign language to him.

What "real" fans want is irrelevant to the future of the sport. Talk about hidebound thinking!
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby kuha » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:57 pm

It's bad to be cursed with historical memory. The fans that went to the big meets (indoors and outdoors) in the 1950s and '60s were very definitely "general" fans--NOT strictly t&f-specific fans. THAT's the group (and the majority) that's been lost--both to the other sports and because they came to feel alienated by t&f.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby aaronk » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:21 pm

kuha wrote:It's bad to be cursed with historical memory. The fans that went to the big meets (indoors and outdoors) in the 1950s and '60s were very definitely "general" fans--NOT strictly t&f-specific fans. THAT's the group (and the majority) that's been lost--both to the other sports and because they came to feel alienated by t&f.


While not specifically about the mile, here's SOME reasons why track and field is NOT the #1 sport in the USA:

1. Too much emphasis on the Olympics...which, after all, lasts only two WEEKS.....leaving a VAST EMPTY SPACE the three years eleven and a half months between each one!!

2. Having World Championships only every other year (and in the beginning, only every FOUR years!!), instead of, like EVERY OTHER MAJOR SPORT, having YEARLY championships (World Series, NCAA Basketball, Super Bowl, etc etc)!!

3. The rise of the rest of the world outside the USA, thus making it more difficult to find HEROES the Hero-Worshipping USA masses can latch onto!! And/or the failure of the powers-that-be to SELL what we DO have in the Hero Dept to the great unwashed masses!!

4. The bastardization of HS track, with those abominations, the 1600 and 3200 meter runs!!

5. The lack of funding for the sport's many needs, including top-notch coaching for more than just a few elites!!

6. The lack of sponsorship for more meets, both outdoors AND indoors!! Indoors is an EXCITING event....and shouldn't be downplayed!!

7. Records. While WR's are few and far between, there's also National records, collegiate records, HS records, CLASS records, individual year AGE records, meet records, etc etc!! Make sure the public KNOWS a record (or records) has been broken...no matter what KIND of record it is!!! Don't DE-emphasize WR's...just PUT emphasis on all the "lesser" records!!!

8. Promote Track and Field News!! It reaches just a few thousand people. Why not a few HUNDRED thousand?? (When I was in HS, in the early 60's, my track coach SOLD T&FN to EVERYBODY on our team!!!)

9. And yes, don't denigrate the MILE!!!
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Dutra5 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:32 pm

gh wrote:
Marlow wrote:
gh wrote:Kids aren't buying tickets or watching meets on TV. You have no connection with how the promotion of the sport actually works; why pretend that you do?

I don't pretend to sit in the halls of power. Just as you can't pretend to understand how younger people feel about the sport, which I do. The future is in their hands, not yours or mine, or even today's power-brokers.


The argument isn't about the future: it's about the NOW. Keeping the sport alive until "the kids" get there, and that's a long way off.

Besides, if it's today's HS athletes who are the fans of tomorrow, they'll be even more turned off by the 1500 (huh, not 4 laps?!!!) than they are the mile. They'll want something they'll never see.

And the real bottom line is that it's not former HS performers who buy the tickets, by and large, to any sport. Never has been, never will be.

This is one of the rocks where "forward thinking" track promoters have foundered since time immemorial. Thinking their fan base comes from former performers. Or worse, from the ranks of the recreational runner, who avoid track meets like the plague.


My son is a sprinter but when I speak to the middle distance runners on his HS team, even they refer to their event as "the mile" despite the fact that most of them don't actually ever compete in a mile race....1600m being the actual distance.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Dutra5 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:36 pm

"Ladies and Gentlemen.....THE WANAMAKER 1500 Meters!!"

Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue :lol:
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby 18.99s » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:43 pm

I wish the international standard had been the 1600 instead of 1500. 4 laps, follows the doubling progression from the 100, 200, 400, 800, and much more relatable and convertible to the mile.

Many of you bash the high school system for having the 1600, but if the 1600 were the international standard it wouldn't be a "bastardized" event.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby BBTM media » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:46 pm

decafan wrote:1. I like the mile. I think it is a terrific event, but this idea is a short term fix to increase interest among people who know their history. It's short term because most of the people who fondly remember the mile are OLD at at least getting old. They are aging out of their relevance to this conversation.
The idea to return to the mile in only the US is even sillier if we are serious about the Olympics and World Championships (and any other international event of significance).
3. I miss the mile too. I also miss rotary dial phones, record albums and sex after marriage. Times change. The best we can do is remember the good 'ole times fondly and move on. There is no future in the Mile.


First, as Garry Hill mentioned the Mile is not just for the "old". Approximately 50% of our Mile Maniacs are under 30 and they too want to see the Mile elevated and celebrated. Bring Back the Mile's Facebook and Twitter followers have a similar percent under 30-years-old. Why? Because no track & field event has an equivalent to Roger Bannister’s historic and still revered first sub-4 minute Mile; put simply, it is iconic and timeless.

Second, the Mile can be brought back in any country that wants to take up the banner; if not, that's fine. Also, the Mile does not hurt the U.S. place or presence at the Olympics and World Championships. NOTE: at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, Mile times were accepted for the 1500 meters (both genders) as well as the 2012 Olympic Trials 1500m (men).

Third, BBTM does not see the Mile as a way to "save" the sport, but the Mile is an event that goes beyond the choir because it is relatable and understandable, particularly in the USA. No American boy has dreamed of breaking 4 minutes for the 1600 despite the misfit distance being on the HS books for more than 30 years.

Fourth, there is a future as well as a wonderful past and present for the Mile. Join us at http://www.BringBacktheMile.com

Go Mile!
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Marlow » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:02 pm

gh wrote:What "real" fans want is irrelevant to the future of the sport. Talk about hidebound thinking!

This from the guy who said he LIKED the fact that our sport was a niche sport and didn't care if anyone else got it or not. The only way we're going to get Joe Six-Pack is we Vegasize it - the women wear thongs and the men run in jocks through rings of fire. Do we really want it to become a Monster Truck Rally?
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby bambam » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:50 pm

I think Garry is right - T&F needs to do everything it can to appeal to average sports fans. Getting rid of the mile would be a bad move in the US, just as I think getting rid of the 100 yards was as well.

The rest of the world can say the US shouldn't count, but we do - the sport will only prosper again in the US if it is popular and popular on television, and if its not on US television, the money will not be nearly as great. Witness how the US television rights fee for the Olympics is 50% of the total world-wide rights fee - and it used to be more.

About 10 years ago, Garry had a column at the beginning of an issue about how he thought another bad thing was the dearth of world records. He said we should have more world records (things like 250 metres, etc), and not less. All us statheads can pontificate all we want about how something is altitude aided, or the Boston Marathon course was 80 metres downhill or whatever, but as Garry said, Joe Sixpack doesn't care diddley-poo about that and more records bring more interest to the sport.

And the mile in the US would bring more interest to the sport in the US as well to Joe Sixpack. Not to the high school runners, but again Garry's right on this one, that's not the population you need to sell the sport to.

Can't believe I'm sucking up so much to EGH.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby TN1965 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:56 pm

Joe Sixpack probably cannot tell the difference between a mile and 1500m (or 1600m for that matter.) So it really does not matter to them which distance is run. They may think it's funny that runners are starting 9m before the finish line or 100m ahead of the finish line. But once the race starts that all becomes irrelevant to them. It's all about "Us vs. Them" whether it's countries, schools or whatever.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Dutra5 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:58 pm

I don't think the switch to 100m from 100yds had the same effect because of the time element. For instance...today...a guy who runs under 10 secs most people know is pretty good. Same with the women and 11 secs.

In the mile...there is the 4 min barrier whether it's relevent to elite status or not. It still is something that matters to a more casual fan.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby Daisy » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:04 pm

Marlow wrote:Do we really want it to become a Monster Truck Rally?

They're fun, right? On the other hand, so is lawn mower racing, especially if you know the people driving. Part of track and fields problem is that most of the athletes are completely anonymous.
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby aaronk » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:10 pm

Dutra5 wrote:I don't think the switch to 100m from 100yds had the same effect because of the time element. For instance...today...a guy who runs under 10 secs most people know is pretty good. Same with the women and 11 secs.

In the mile...there is the 4 min barrier whether it's relevent to elite status or not. It still is something that matters to a more casual fan.


So do many other "English" barriers.

7 foot HJ
200 foot DT
70 foot SP
27 foot LJ
13.00 110H
sub-50.0 400H
etc, etc

Not world beaters or records, but still psychological barriers that, once surpassed, gives one a taste of being an elite athlete and an Olympic prospect.

So the sub-4 mile ain't a record breaker, but it does provide the athlete a rung on the ladder where he/she can envision medals and victories.

Let's keep it.
What harm does it do??
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Re: Return to the Mile?

Postby tandfman » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:59 am

TN1965 wrote:Joe Sixpack probably cannot tell the difference between a mile and 1500m (or 1600m for that matter.)

Joe Sixpack knows how long a mile is, but has no idea at all how long either 1500 or 1600 meters is. That matters.
Last edited by tandfman on Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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