The changes in the Diamond League events has done something unprecedented: overwhelmingly negative response to the changes, from all over the sport. This writer wonders outloud about where the surveys were taken, and in what parallel universe the Diamond League management resides. Think of this: the few sponsors in our sport will change how they value athletes in non DL events, even if they despise the DL, as it means their stars will not be seen as often globally in their branded clothing.
Please enjoy the comments below, collected and compiled by Stuart Weir.
The reaction to the “streamlining” of the Diamond League has been swift and articulate. It has also been overwhelmingly negative. When things change, there is always a reactionary “I liked it as it was” response but I have been struck by the eloquent and coherent arguments and by the standing of the people making the comments.
There is a concern that we are creating a two-tier sport: “The Highest ranked meeting in the world for Track and Field outside of a major championship yet they only host 12 of 21 events”. Raven Saunders. BBC’s Ed Harry suggests that the consequences of the decision may be more far-reaching than the IAAF realizes: “The Olympics is committed to updating which Sports/Events are at the Games, ideally without increasing overall headcount. When a governing body cuts 4 disciplines from its elite series, it becomes easier for the IOC to take them off the Olympic programme one day”. The strength of feelings evoked is shown by the comment by recently retired Trinidadian sprint hurdler, Mikel Thomas: “The sport I being killed right before our very eyes…”
The loss of 5,000m and now 3,000m steeplechase has caused Eilish McColgan so speak out: “Distance running, as a whole, is getting pushed out more and more. How do they expect athletes to make a living with none of the top tier events hosting their discipline!?” Mary Ngugi notes “Another popular Kenyan race off the agenda.” Adharanand Finn sees disturbing consequences: “A disaster for the sport of distance running. More athletes will head straight to the roads now and skip out track completely”.
People were quick to challenge the decision makers’ views on which events are most watchable. Jonathan Gault suggested that: “The men’s steeplechase at the 2018 Diamond League final was one of the most exciting races in the 10-year history of the Diamond League” and the 2019 World Championship men’s and women’s were pretty watchable too. Pedro Pires is more forthright, saying: “IAAF has an incredibly ability to always surprise us. Pathetic decision. I don’t know a single person who says that currently 800m (e.g.) is more entertaining than Triple Jump or 3,000mst. But, of course, Coe wouldn’t touch on 800/1.500m”. Dafne Schippers expressed her bemusement: “Confused! The latest Diamond Lleague research has shown that the 200m is one of the most popular disciplines. However, the 200m has not been included in the 24 diamond league disciplines… Seriously?”
Motivation and long term effects are also part of the argument. Alysia MontaÃ±o said: “There we go again. Making decisions that feed your pockets and don’t have the athlete’s best interest in mind”. James Truscott did not mince his words: “This is a disaster ‘Streamlining’ the Diamond League at what cost? Will excluding some of the world’s biggest talent in track and field. Completely defeats the objective of trying to make bigger stars in the sport. It may even reduce quality in the events that aren’t included”. Darrell Hill added: “90 minute program without majority of the stars the fans want to see”. Aisha Praught Leer tweeted: “Sacrificing events–and popular ones featuring T&F’s stars–because Diamond League wants to tighten production time is not the ‘innovation’ we need. Athletes will lose careers over the implementation of this short-sighted idea. British thrower, Taylor Campbell, felt it was “sad to see more events excluded from the Diamond League” and he doesn’t stop there. “Seb Coe you are ruining our sport, you’re letting the public and the athletes down”. Triple-jumper Nathan Douglas’s point was: “Don’t blame the disciplines. Blame how the Diamond League is televised, the format, how it’s presented. Reducing the entertainment isn’t the answer”.
I loved the tongue in cheek tweet in support of scrapping the discus: “Thank goodness they have cut that pesky discus throw! It took up a whole 17 seconds of TV coverage time to show the top 3 throws”.
Highly respected, British coach, Scott Simpson, spoke for many: “All I’ve read is negative responses to the decision today regarding the events in the 2020 Diamond League series.