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Mr. Bill
Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:37PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
All the complaining about NBC's track coverage is at best myopic. We're runners. We want to see distance races on the tube. Understandable. Most people are not runners. Therefore, they don't want to see distance races on television. Give them gymnastics, hotties playing volleyball in bikinis, and, while you're at it, throw in another interview with Michael Phelps' mom. They watch for a while, satisfy their Olympic curiosity, ratings soar, and advertisers are happy. Why can't we do the same?

Face it. Distance running, by and large, is simply not a compelling spectator sport. I say this as someone who has been running and racing for approaching two decades. I've run everything from junior high track to countless road races to multiple marathons. Yet even I'm willing to admit that watching a distance race is typically less than enthralling. Say you have a close marathon race tomorrow, one decided by a finising kick on the track. What happened? A bunch of guys ran together for 26 miles, they kicked the last 0.2, and someone did it better. That's it. At the end, it was, as the complaint goes, "just a bunch of guys running." Compare this to basketball, where there's running, jumping, ball handling, dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, blocking, and defending. In a distance race? A bunch of guys running. Doesn't really compare.

A comparison: I enjoy reading on a variety of topics. Nothing like engaging the mind in a great story. However, would anyone consider watching someone read to be a spellbinding way to spend a couple of hours? Of course not. Why, then, do distance runners insist that, just because they enjoy running, that watching people run is must-see tv?
BwanaKuu
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:44PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Mr. Bill wrote:

All the complaining about NBC's track coverage is at best myopic. We're runners. We want to see distance races on the tube. Understandable. Most people are not runners. Therefore, they don't want to see distance races on television. Give them gymnastics, hotties playing volleyball in bikinis, and, while you're at it, throw in another interview with Michael Phelps' mom. They watch for a while, satisfy their Olympic curiosity, ratings soar, and advertisers are happy. Why can't we do the same?

Face it. Distance running, by and large, is simply not a compelling spectator sport. I say this as someone who has been running and racing for approaching two decades. I've run everything from junior high track to countless road races to multiple marathons. Yet even I'm willing to admit that watching a distance race is typically less than enthralling. Say you have a close marathon race tomorrow, one decided by a finising kick on the track. What happened? A bunch of guys ran together for 26 miles, they kicked the last 0.2, and someone did it better. That's it. At the end, it was, as the complaint goes, "just a bunch of guys running." Compare this to basketball, where there's running, jumping, ball handling, dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, blocking, and defending. In a distance race? A bunch of guys running. Doesn't really compare.

A comparison: I enjoy reading on a variety of topics. Nothing like engaging the mind in a great story. However, would anyone consider watching someone read to be a spellbinding way to spend a couple of hours? Of course not. Why, then, do distance runners insist that, just because they enjoy running, that watching people run is must-see tv?


I agree. Honestly, watching a race is only exciting when you're rooting for a particular person so someone sets a world record pace. Or if it is a very close race. Honestly, the only interesting thing about most championship races is the last few laps. That's the only time anything really happens. Or something like when that Romanian woman made that HUGE move during the marathon.

Everyone talks about how track should be the main focus. Well, it's not for one very good reason: it gets lower ratings thatn other events. First, most people find it boring to watch. Second, there usually aren't many Americans in the hunt for a medal (hence why the 1500 was shown at 2 AM once Lagat was out). If it can't satisfy either of these two qualities then it's not going to be shown. People loved the Phelps' coverage because it was hyped up and he was doing something unprecedented. Plus, the races were fairly short. Honestly, would you want to watch people swim back and forth for nearly 30 minutes? That's the same way people feel about watching the 10k.

I think the only way NBC would cover the distance events more is if we had some guys going for a medal. I hope they show most of the 5k since all three of our runners made it and two have a chance to medal. And don't complain about not showing the heats. There were better things to watch than a slow 5k heat. They show the 4x1 heats because it's fast.
ja ja jinx
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:45PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I disagree. Historically, Track & Field has always been eth anchor of the Olympics...lose T&F and might as well get rid of Olympics all together.
No the 2012
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:46PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Depends on the circumstances and whos appearing.
Coverage of our national cross-country championships would attract an audience of half a dozen.
Whereas the London Marathon TV coverage attracts huge audience figures - especially when Paula Radcliffe is running.
mother clucker
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:53PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
honestly ... nyc and boston were broadcast live start to finish - stadiums had butts in seats, real men wore short shorts, guys who put in 40 hours per week at "the mill" ran 100mpw and running a sub 2:30 marathon wasn't that big of a deal.
So...
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:55PM - in reply to No the 2012 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You can say the same thing about anything. Did you really care who won while Angola Played Iran in Basketball? No, you didn't and the TV didn't show it because you didn't care. If we had good distance runners the U.S. would show more coverage of it, that's the plain and simple of it. You can't tell me that Prefontaine in teh 5k was not exciting to watch as any other sport, no matter if you are a runner or not.
Ante up
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:56PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Mr. Bill wrote:

All the complaining about NBC's track coverage is at best myopic. We're runners. We want to see distance races on the tube. Understandable. Most people are not runners. Therefore, they don't want to see distance races on television. Give them gymnastics, hotties playing volleyball in bikinis, and, while you're at it, throw in another interview with Michael Phelps' mom. They watch for a while, satisfy their Olympic curiosity, ratings soar, and advertisers are happy. Why can't we do the same?

Face it. Distance running, by and large, is simply not a compelling spectator sport. I say this as someone who has been running and racing for approaching two decades. I've run everything from junior high track to countless road races to multiple marathons. Yet even I'm willing to admit that watching a distance race is typically less than enthralling. Say you have a close marathon race tomorrow, one decided by a finising kick on the track. What happened? A bunch of guys ran together for 26 miles, they kicked the last 0.2, and someone did it better. That's it. At the end, it was, as the complaint goes, "just a bunch of guys running." Compare this to basketball, where there's running, jumping, ball handling, dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, blocking, and defending. In a distance race? A bunch of guys running. Doesn't really compare.

A comparison: I enjoy reading on a variety of topics. Nothing like engaging the mind in a great story. However, would anyone consider watching someone read to be a spellbinding way to spend a couple of hours? Of course not. Why, then, do distance runners insist that, just because they enjoy running, that watching people run is must-see tv?



Agree 100%. Running is a participation sport, even those of us that love to do it don't really care that much about watching others. I can totally understand that non-runners could care less.
Oh, I see....
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:58PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Actually distance running etc are much more popular in Europe than in the United States. Mainly because in the USA there is baseball, football, basketball, etc.
Outdoorsman
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 2:59PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
All of a sudden the olympics come up and people who don't follow track are expected to root for some guy or girl they've never heard of before...the effort to market track athletes is definately lacking.
wait?!?!
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:09PM - in reply to mother clucker Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Are you on the right thread? Because this response doesn't really seem to apply to anything that is being discussed here.


mother clucker wrote:

honestly ... nyc and boston were broadcast live start to finish - stadiums had butts in seats, real men wore short shorts, guys who put in 40 hours per week at "the mill" ran 100mpw and running a sub 2:30 marathon wasn't that big of a deal.
RUS
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:13PM - in reply to No the 2012 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Distance running isnt a great spectator sport right now because Americans aren't leading the charge. If we had three Americans in every distance final and they were challenging for the win then people would take more interest. There are 30+ million people that run road races and a few hundred thousand kids every few years that run cross country and track. That is a huge potential audience. That's the base, but USATF and the agents of athletes need to promote the stories and personalities behind each athlete, as well as continue to develop our top stars.
Wither Man
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:18PM - in reply to Outdoorsman Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Outdoorsman wrote:

All of a sudden the olympics come up and people who don't follow track are expected to root for some guy or girl they've never heard of before...the effort to market track athletes is definately lacking.


And on top of that, those same people can't be expected to root for guys named Lagat, Lamong, Khalid, etc. People who aren't fans of the sport would probably have no idea that those foreign-born runners even represent the USA.
mcordi
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:22PM - in reply to ja ja jinx Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You're right and another factor to consider (and I think the original poster may be too young to remember) is that distance running, and track/road racing in general, was at one time a popular spectator sport.
When you have good commentators who can make the race understandable to the general viewer then they like it. I remember when races, especially 1 mile races, were on. I also remember the road mile series around the world that was very popular. The IAAF didn't like it because they were afraid it was going to overpower track meets.
The NYC Marathon was on ABC- live from start to finish and people watched it and talked about it the next day. Orlando Pizzolato was known by everyone- runners and non-runners.
Even the Rotterdam Marathon was on ABC on a Saturday early evening- same day tape delay.
It was, and can be again, a popular spectator sport.
goat man
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:43PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have a better question. Why do runners care if running is a popular spectator sport? We're runners. We do our training, run our races, hang out with our running buddies. How does the fact that non-runners don't care about the sport interfere with our enjoyment of it?

Running isn't popular. So what? Why do any of us care?
asf
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:45PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Mr. Bill wrote:

Say you have a close marathon race tomorrow, one decided by a finising kick on the track. What happened? A bunch of guys ran together for 26 miles, they kicked the last 0.2, and someone did it better. That's it. At the end, it was, as the complaint goes, "just a bunch of guys running." Compare this to basketball, where there's running, jumping, ball handling, dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, blocking, and defending. In a distance race? A bunch of guys running. Doesn't really compare.



This holds true for nearly any sport. I'll hold out till the last 10 minutes or so of a NBA basketball game, because I don't want to watch a bunch of guys casually bounce a ball around for 2 hours. It's no wonder track is a dying sport, not even those who are interested in it are interested in it. I'd take a world class marathon any day over the super bowl.
whitemencantrun
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 3:56PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
one thing for sure, the Women's 5000 meter race yesterday didn't help! I was embarrassed, I hope they don't show it on TV tomorrow. That's how bad it was.
joker123
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 5:50PM - in reply to whitemencantrun Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I've been running for three years and have only met two other people that run and I have never ran with someone. So this shows what kind of community running is. All everybody thinks about is their self and there damn pr's etc......So why should the rest of the world care? WE JUST RUN.....MOST SPORTS IN AMERICA RUNNING IS INVOLVED IN IT BUT NOT JUST FOR THE SAKE OF RUNNING SO WHO CARES?
mother clucker
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 5:59PM - in reply to wait?!?! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
At one time, distance running WAS a spectator sport, people actually went to track meets, track meets WERE televised and there WERE people in the stands when the camera panned around the stadium, now there is a sea of empty seats.






wait?!?! wrote:

Are you on the right thread? Because this response doesn't really seem to apply to anything that is being discussed here.


mother clucker wrote:

honestly ... nyc and boston were broadcast live start to finish - stadiums had butts in seats, real men wore short shorts, guys who put in 40 hours per week at "the mill" ran 100mpw and running a sub 2:30 marathon wasn't that big of a deal.

Flash Harry
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 7:31PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Personally I don't find beach volleyball chicks hot at all. Bikinis are't sexy with no boobs, and the personalities are too dykey/lesbo for my taste.
DaveW
RE: Why distance running will never be a popular spectator sport 8/22/2008 8:44PM - in reply to Mr. Bill Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Media & communication technology has evolved each year. Movie special effects improved, cell phones came about, the internet happened, and youtube emerged. In the 1972 Olympics, the USA won less medals than today. I think the distance events won about two medals. None-the-less the distance events were very compelling.

I don't know how those savy marketing types did it back then, but they worked with a lot less. However times change and now this Paris Hilton signature site wants to tell us about getting laid at the Olympic village.
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