Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A largely unappreciated sports event---the Big East Track & Field Meet

This year Syracuse University again hosted the Big East Track & Field competition at the Carrier Dome. Teams from colleges that regularly produce first rate track programs such as Notre Dame, Georgetotwn, and Rutgers entered quality athletes in a wide variety of events. Syracuse lacked the depth of talent possessed by these schools but captured first place in the men's sixty meter dash and showed considerable promise in the women's field events.

woman sprinter
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I attended and had a good time. The price was right. Admission was a mere five dollars for a seat near the finish line. Parenthetically, a football ticket in midfield would have cost at least ten times that much.

There was plenty of room in the stands to stretch my legs. No one spilled beer on my clothes. The meet was not interrupted by annoying commercials.

I am of course aware that football is thought by most to be a considerably more
glamorous sport than track. Yet I wondered why games making up Syracuse's unexciting football schedule managed to attract some 40,000 fans last year while a highly competitive Big East track meet in the same stadium enticed only a couple of hundred spectators.

The great disparity in the number of onlookers was in my opinion in large part due to the fact that college track in Central New York is not sufficiently publicized. Before the date of the Big East meet only one article of significance appeared in the Syracuse Post Standard. There were no ´┐Żup close and personal´┐Ż interviews of featured athletes. If there was any television coverage it had to be minimal. Simply stated, there was no incentive for sport fans to turn out for a track team made up of faceless competitors. Compare that with the ongoing media attention given to the university's major sports, football and basketball and the growing interest in lacrosse.

Syracuse has for several years been the host city for the Big East Track & Field meet and will continue to play this role in the foreseeable future. A good host should be attentive to its guests. It is something of an embarrassment to see so few present to cheer on these highly trained athletes in a competition that traces its origins to ancient Greece.

Once exposed to the experience of watching a good track meet,the next step is to learn about the contestants and the teams. With knowledge of the sport, appreciation follows. Those who take the time to look into the intricacies of track and field will have found an ongoing source of low cost and highly satisfying entertainment.


At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Vince, thanks for the post.

My Dad is a huge track and field fan and officiated many meets at Marshall University, where he was a professor of Sociology and Economics. I remember being taken to events as a small child and have had the pleasure of attending track events at two Olympics; Montreal in '76 and LA in '84. I agree that track does not get the coverage it deserves and it was nice to see your post.


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