There is an annual pilgrimage that many track fans and those working in the endurance sports industry make each year. It’s a ceremonious trip to the USA Track & Field Championships and for years it was the only way to catch the action. With television coverage minimal and reporting kept to the pages of “the bible,” there weren’t other ways to watch the track champs. But ho, ho…now we have the interwebs including Runnerspace, twittering, USATF.tv, and even some coverage, of some finals, on NBC. The problem is that no one alerted the sporting public that the U.S. track season is about to begin. And without a beginning it’s a lot harder to care about the middle or fully appreciate the end.
Track and field needs a defined season. And from my vantage point in the muck of running marketing this is the time: “Summer, summer time” just like Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff told us 25 year ago. The NBA has finally crested the summit, Major League Baseball is fully in its self described dog days, and NFL players are just starting to lose the winter weight in hopes of avoiding another head injury. This is the time for track and field to shine with USA’s, the best Diamond League meetings, and the World Championships. This is our time and it starts with what should be our opening day: the USA Track & Field Championships.
Every sport has build up on opening day. The first game of the season has a buzz about it, people pre-gaming, post-partying, skipping work and pretending they are fans. It’s the place to be and track needs that swagger. The USATF championships is the place to show off the greatest track team on the planet, at the most storied track in the U.S. and do it all on one weekend. Yes, we could call this the culmination, but for the best of the best it’s just the beginning. And frankly, we should really just care about the best. That is what professional sport is about.
Furthermore, story lines abound around this year’s championships. For once I can say that with a straight face. Yes, I’m a fan and a peripheral insider with horses in the race, but there are threads to be pulled for the general public. A cauldron is bubbling with ingredients of doping scandals, fresh faces, doping scandal defenses, and British tabloids turning coaches into paparazzi targets. It’s sad on some levels, but it’s also pretty exciting. It’s like the Lance Armstrong saga, but crammed into one-month.
So we’ll say it now, Happy Opening Day of track season. Representrunning.com will be featuring different professional profiles throughout the season and we are going to have fun with it. We want sports fans to get to know the athletes beyond their PR’s and training regimens. We want the weird stuff because we’re weird and we do what we want. Follow along and hashtag #trkszn to promote the sport, the idea, and be a part of track season.