Racing with the Stars? by Toni Reavis, note by Larry Eder

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Toni Reavis makes a great point in this column. It is not that something is missing from our sport, it is how we promote the sport. So, Reavis gets Bob Bright, the former Chicago Marathon impressario, to suggest a mutation of Dancing with the Stars and a handicap race-hence, Racing with the Stars?

It is not as crazy as it sounds......

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Suzy Favor Hamilton, photo by PhotoRun.net

RACING WITH THE STARS?

by Toni Reavis

The fields for the winter and spring racing seasons are being released almost daily now as the sport begins to emerge from its turn-of-the-year hibernation. The Dubai Marathon goes off  tonight at 10 pm ET, while the Boston MarathonLondon Marathon along with the New Balance Indoor Grand PrixMillrose Games and USATF National Cross Country Championships have recently released their talent-laden fields.  And just today Competitor Group announced double Olympic champion Mo Farah for their New Orleans Rock `n` Roll Half(with more top names to come, according to athlete coordinator Matt Turnbull.) Running afficionados are anxiously circling calendars and planning their travel and internet viewing accordingly.

At the same time, Entertainment Weekly posted an EXCLUSIVE storytoday claiming that the ABC reality hit Dancing With the Stars has offeredLance Armstrong a spot on its upcoming spring season. According to the EW story, Armstrong declined the offer. That news comes on the heels of a similar story about troubled actress Lindsay Lohan also declining to appear on DWTS this season (and reportedly rejecting $550,000 in the process).

So, what's the lesson here?

I had an email exchange with Millrose meet director Ray Flynn last week regarding the excellent fields that he's put together for not only the showcase Wannamaker Mile, but for the Two Mile event, as well. What I wanted to know was, "what needs to be done to gather interest beyond the athletics' world bubble?  In other words, what are the stakes these athletes are racing for? Isn't that the missing element when we try to engage the public? Ok, a wonderful field has been assembled, but what's the purpose other than winning that one race? What's the hook for those outside the sport?"

Ray replied: "The Millrose Games is in its 106th year. Having run it on six occasions, I am a big believer.  I think these kids like the idea of the big stage, we'll set up a great race, and it's good timing for them.  You may think I'm deflecting and that athletes only race for money. I don't think so. They want to know that they will be part of something great! This will be a great race. The first time I got to race in Oslo, I would have slept on the floor.  All that mattered was that I had arrived on the big stage! It's a show in the end."

The key to that exchange was that Ray was still looking at the races through the eyes of an athlete; it's what the races meant to them that counts. What I was wondering was what the races might mean to thepublic. Why would they want to watch?
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