Could these three races be the key to Running & Track TV programming?
Quick, name 3 athletes in track & field?
OK, Usain Bolt is easy. He just became another rarity in running: someone from this sport on the cover of Sports Illustrated®.
Before Bolt exploded into our living rooms during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 100m “dash” has always drawn attention beyond track and running circles. The 100m sprint at the Olympics defined who was the “fastest man or woman”. That title alone gave this event the spotlight. That bright light also brought with it the lure of drugs, the performance enhancing types. The watershed event that put the doubt in our minds about a sprinter’s ability to run a new world record was the DQ of Ben Johnson of
That’s one event with staying power and name recognition. What else fascinates the public on the track or roads? What distance is still referred as the standard for measuring speed? It is neither the meter nor the yard. It is the mile. Every moving object both motorized on land and air has its speed measured in miles per hour. The mile. It was another standard that measured man. In track it was considered to be the purest distance to measure speed and stamina. The dawn of the modern Olympics in 1896 also brought with it the drive to attempt to run a 4 minute mile. Physicians and physicists believed in the early 1900s that such a feat-------a mile in 4 minutes flat or less------- was impossible. Some even stated that a man could possibly die trying. It became a quest in the post World War II era. Runners actually thought they could do it. One such runner analyzed how to train for the 4 minute mile and began to believe. He may have been studying to be a physician but he sure sounded like he understood the power of visualization that sports psychologists use today to assist pro athletes. That man was Roger Bannister. He achieved the first sub 4 minute mile and opened the door for several hundred milers since that day in May 1954. Since that famous race in
The other distance that has fueled the rise in running participation or led to two “running booms” is the marathon. The marathon’s popularity started to rise soon after the 1972 Olympic Games in
Today we have recently seen a huge breakthrough by another American Male runner in Dathan Ritzenheim. “Ritz” as he is called broke the 13 year old American Record in the 5000 meters. He is now hailed as another track hero and rock star. Could other events in track become draws to the public like the 100m, the mile and marathon have done over the past 30 to 100 years? Time is the telltale sign.
In the meantime, let’s see if some enterprising event producers can find new exciting ways to get track events shown on TV. The world has new stars that have grabbed our attention. Let’s not let this gift of bright new stars fade away.