From 1990 to 1996, I coached with Joe Mangan at Foothill Community College. One of the best times of my life. Lived in Los Altos, Adam was in grade school, near the family. Joe Mangan and I still keep in touch. We share the same dream: how can track & field takes it’s rightful place among the most popular and largest sports in world?
We can learn a lot from soccer/football. In my travels, I have learnt how my friends identify with their local football teams in Europe. I watch my son, Adam, with his fantasy American football and his love of the 49ers.
I just got back from the CityGames in Newcastle, seeing some things that would work over in the former colonies, but seeing some things that would not transfer to the U.S. The CityGames brought 20,000 people to downtown Newcastle, for youth races, and to watch British and US teams compete against each other, with some stars and some possible stars down the road.
For athletics to grow, we need global big money sponsorship, not footwear or apparel related, that sees the big picture. The key is, how to bring those companies to our sport?
Joe Mangan sent me a great link about how good the Olympics were for adidas, but how great Soccer is for adidas, Nike, Heineken and the other major sponsors. Here is the link:
Joe Mangan sent me the link with a great note. He noted that the piece we miss in track & field is the individual marketing of athletes. “Why not t-shirts with Allyson, Sanya Richards-Ross, Galen Rupp? Fans could show who they support, who is their key athlete?”
This comes after a weekend of interviewing Jason Richardson and Ryan Wilson, both talking about how to promote track & field. ” Fans need to be able to empathize with athletes they know. Media needs to concentrate on stories on athletes, build a following for our sport to grow.”
After seeing 155,000 people in stands in London (75,000 in am, 80,000 in pm), it is clear to me that we are just not getting it in US. We do not translate the excitement of great events, great competitions on US television. We do not alert fans early enough to plan on indoor or outdoor elite meetings. We have the fans. Last year, 50 states had outdoor state track meets with tracked paid attendance over 400,000 (we had 468,000 in 2006, when we checked each state).
So, tell us what you think? How do we make Track better? Stop whining about how bad stuff is, make a difference and give us some suggestions? We will publish the good ones, the strange ones, the unique ones. Send them to subject: Making sport better, to email@example.com.