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Curious Coach
RE: Why was distance running so popular in the 70s (or 80s)? Was it more popular than football?
One:
Running for the mainstream population was seen as new and exciting during the running boom of the 70's and early 80's. As the novelty of the activity wore off, so did the excitement surrounding competition.

Two:
It cannot be stressed enough how much talent soccer has pulled away from middle and long distance running in the US. Soccer attracts huge numbers of kids. These kids were running track 30 years ago.

Three:
As a culture we do not stress participation in sports the way Americans did in the past. In 1975 EVERYONE did SOMETHING. Whether it was wrestling, basketball, baseball, football, or running - very high percentages of boys participated in organized sports. At many schools some sort of extra-curricular activity was required. Most girls were in the pep club. A few played sports. Boys played sports. A few did something else. Period.

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