Look, we liked the Athletics World Cup, recently hosted in London. The next weekend, they even had good crowds in London Diamond League. If I am not completely off, London had one of biggest crowds of summer for athletics, even though they were smaller. A keen reader reminded me that Drake Relays (SRO), Penn Relays, and Texas Relays had larger crowds in Spring 2018, than London AWC and London DL combined, as we forget how big crowds are in US at some major relays.
Our senior writer from Staten Island, arguably, its very own world, Jeff Benjamin, is an unabashed track geek. The man has written for American Athletics, American Track & Field, and RunBlogRun for three decades plus. He is our chief geek. Here is his letter, full of enthusiasm and love for our sport, to IAAF President Seb Coe.
I sometimes wonder if there is any track meet in world that has not seen Seb Coe visit? The man represents our sport with enthusiasm each and every day.
So, here is Jeff’s letter on how to Seb Coe, with suggestions on how to improve on the Athletic Worlds Cup!
Making The World Cup Greater!
An Open Letter To Sebastian Coe!
By Jeff Benjamin
The Honorable Lord Sebastian N. Coe.
This past weekend’s revival of the long-dormant IAAF World Cup was truly an enjoyable meet to watch. Sitting here in Staten Island across the pond, one could not have been more enthralled and inspired than by seeing these athletes compete in the hallowed London Olympic stadium not only for themselves, but for their country!
The team competitions, combined with individual competitions, showed that fans, both old and new, can be potentially drawn in by the duo championship competitions, especially when done well. This writer was also very happy to hear your comments about it’s success –
As with any event I’m sure the IAAF will have a post-meet assessment where ideas will be bandied about as to how to improve on the World Cup. With the greatest respect, I’d like to pass along some in the box and outside the box (crazy?) suggestions:
1.) Gotta get more athletes there! While some members of the press lamented this issue prior to the meet, the performances showed athletes going all-out anyway, knowing that their overall place would contribute to their country’s point score. There was plenty of drama in these events, whether one finished 1st or 6th and, hopefully, with more sponsor $ possibly coming in can send the message to the absent athletes that they should be there in the future.
2.) Keep it in London! The London crowd, which comprises perhaps some of the most knowledgeable athletic fans this side of Staten Island (ðŸ˜€) was quite big for the meet, as it was estimated between 25,000 to 30,000 on both days. Why not continue to espouse upon the greatness of this facility – of course myself and others would have to fly out there for future World Cups but it’d be worth it!
3.) Old-Timers Race! In American Baseball there are events known as “Old-Timers Day” where stars of the past dress in their past-era uniforms and engage in an exhibition game. Why not Track & Field? Gathering the Greats of the Past and Honoring them perhaps by “running” as teams in an exhibition 4X100 Relay would not only resonate with the longtime fans of the Sport, but would also potentially pique the interest of the younger generation in learning about the Sports’ Immortals, including yourself.
4.) Split-Point Bonuses – Perhaps set up and reward certain splits in the races with a few points for that respective team. For example, in the men’s 800 meters, Poland’s Adam Kszczot decided to go for it with more than 250 meters to go, leading through 600 meters before America’s Clayton Murphy overtook him in the final straightaway to win Gold. Why not reward Poland with say 4 points for leading through the 600 split? Imagine how much more dramatic the relays could be if points were given to the country that handed off the baton first in each exchange! That also could lead to one country in a 4X100 or 4X400 leading the whole way, thereby bagging the split time points and the winning points as well, but it could motivate the competitors to REALLY go all out to try and stop them!
5.) The Dynamic Duo-Field Team Competition– How’s about the field events requiring 2 athletes per country and then combining their total results together for the overall score?
6.) While we are on Split-Times- Why not Bring Back The Mile? -Imagine getting bonus split points at the 400, 800, 1200, and the 1500 marks? The Mile is so mainstream in America as well as Britain that I think it would resonate strongly with fans, while also giving excitement, deference and respect for the 1500 as well. It’s also quite possible that this kind of arrangement could lead to ridiculously fast splits, but that could also result in fast times. The suggested point split could be – 400 meters – 4 Points
800 meters – 6 points
1200 meters – 8 points
1500 meters — 10 points
Mile – 20 points
As always this writer is grateful for your time and efforts in leading the Sport. While I’m sure there’ll be lots of positive and negative reaction to this list of ideas, “reaction” is what I’ve hoped to bring about. The reactions will no doubt bring about exchanges and ideas which will hopefully bring about great success in future World Cups!