On Sunday, June 10, I had a revelation. I was watching the Nike Prefontaine Classic on television, LIVE from Eugene, Oregon. The Pre Classic has been the beacon for elite track and field in this country for nearly 30 years. Meet director Tom Jordan has the benefits of a wonderful facility at University of Oregon, a great crowd, many who have missed only a handful of meets over thirty years and a sponsor who believes in the importance of the meet.
This year, it is quite different. While the meet had some of the best races so far of the year: the Men’s 2 mile, the Bowerman Mile, the Women’s 1,500 meters and the Men’s 200 meters, the Prefontaine is now being challenged for supremacy in North America.
How can that be, you ask? Well, two earlier meets this season, the adidas Track Classic, in Carson City, California on May 20, and the Reebok Grand Prix, held at Icahn Stadium on Randalls’ Island, in the center of New York City on June 2, had good crowds and great competitions!
Now, before the hate mail begins, re read this carefully, I said that the Pre Classic is being challenged, not overcome. Both the adidas and the Reebok GP are managed by Global Athletics & Marketing. Putting on a track meet is a thankless task. Tom Jordan of the Pre Classic spends his entire year preparing for one day. Global Athletics & Marketing spends most of the year managing four events: Reebok Boston Indoor in January, Millrose Games in February, adidas in May, Reebok GP in June. Talk about
Track meets have been nightmeres in the past, and they will be in the future. The reasons these meets do well is that they a) run on a schedule, b) run in a two to three hour format, c) focus on great competition.
One of our problems in this sport is the obsession with records. Record chasing and record setting have nearly killed this sport and made it incomprehensible for the general sports fan.
This season has been different. There have been fast times-witness Tyson Gay running 9.79wa and 9.76 wind aided as well. There have been records-witness Breaux Greer’s 90.71 meter or 297-7 javelin throw! Witness Jenn Stuczynski’s two American records in the women’s pole vault! And, finally, there have been great races! Witness Wallace Spearmon’s come from behinds at adidas and Reebok in the 200 meters, witness Alan Webb winning the mile at Reebok and most of all, witness Craig Mottram win the Nike Two Mile in 8:03.51, after having run the last mile in four minutes flat! His waving to the crowd, pumping his arms to both sets of stands, said it all: track and field is about the competition!
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