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SportsCenter: The Only Thing More Boring than Track?  Field
By: LetsRun.com
July 10, 2009

One of our desires at LetsRun.com is that track and field highlights get put on Sportscenter or the local news. For our sport to get any traction with the main stream sportsfan it has to be put in front of them. In today's era of 24/7 sports coverage, Track and Field must have the ability every once in a while to get its highlights in front of casual sports fans. How many of you saw highlights from the recent USATF champs on your local news or Sportscenter? You get our point.

Well two days ago track and field had a highlight worthy of Sportscenter. If you haven't seen Usain Bolt's 19.59 200m in the pouring rain, watch it below. It is breathtaking. It was the #6 play of the day on ESPN and with the highlight the Sportscenter anchor said something along the lines of, "Do you know the only thing more boring than track? Field!"

If we saw the highlight and comment, personally we probably would have laughed. It's a funny joke. And there is some truth to it. We got to a lot of track meets a year, and most of them are pretty boring with no attempt to entertain the fan between events. Nearly every other sporting event in the world attempts to entertain the spectators apart from the action.

Well, some of the LetsRun.com visitors didn't find it funny. The incident picked up traction yesterday after the thread complaining about the comment was started on LRC by a visitor using the moniker "ESPNSucks" and then featured on our homepage. Many who read the thread started emailing ESPN.com, pissed off at anchor Scott Van Pelt who was being identified in the thread as the one responsible for the comment. The problem is posters on the LRC thread were wrong. Scott Van Pelt didn't make that comment.

The anchor behind the comment? None other than former University of Missouri track captain John Anderson. 

Yes John Anderson, a former high jumper and big track and field fan. A little investigation by an LRC visitor revealed that Anderson is a big fan of track and field who has always admitted to loving the quote he made about the field part of track and field being boring. When asked in an ESPN.com chat about what his favorite Olympic sport was, Anderson wrote, "I love the Track and Field. despite (sic) one of my favorite sports quotes ever -- ' the only thing more boring than track is field.' High Jump will be the one I watch most. The 100 will also be dynamite"

The interesting development is that the ESPN producers either troll our message boards (a possibility) or got enough responses directed at Scott Van Pelt that Scott Van Pelt decided to respond to the "uproar." Van Pelt was kind enough to state on his radio show that he did not make the comment and he also sent us the following email as well.

    my producer forwarded me this link to people crushing me for ripping track and field on sportscenter's top plays.

    Here's the problem....it wasn't me.

    The people saw it on the morning s/c.

    I don't DO that show.

    I do the 11 Eastern show....so whoever said it did the late night show from LA which is the show that re - airs all morning.

    I stink at plenty of things...but in this case....the people are pissed at the wrong cat.

    Thanks for hearing me out.


Scott, we're happy to hear you out. And we're happy to hear that the original comment was a joke by Jon Anderson.

We are viewing this whole thing as a positive for the following reasons. 1) Track and Field was on the radio and Sportscenter. 2) ESPN producers visit LetsRun.com or got enough complaints that they felt it was worth responding to 3) Scott Van Pelt took the time to write us back 4) We know for a fact there is 1 anchor at ESPN who loves track.

We're just sorry that our viewers don't always have the best sense of humor. This episode just reaffirmed that a few of the LRC viewers can't take a joke. Whenever we make a somewhat funny but disparaging remark about track, we get deluged with emails as well.

Back to the joke, we think a lot of you have to admit there is some ring of truth to it and that is one of our sport's problems. ESPN could do a better job with our sport, but we as a sport can just assume by its own the public is going to find track and field interesting without work and education on our part. Hopefully, next year's Diamond League is a step in the right direction of actually getting people to race one another and for there to be interesting storylines.

Usain Bolt right now is THE only thing interesting in track to the general public. Sportscenter showed his race on Toronto live (with a couple of false starts which is not helping things) and last year showed the Bolt-Powell showdown live after the Olympics on Sportscenter (it was thrilling to be a golf pro shop and see people who weren't track fans discussing the race and watching it like a sporting event). This is exposing new fans to the sport and is a step in the right direction.

But to assume the sport on its own is going to get widespread acceptance is crazy, especially with how it is presented. This poster isn't too far off the mark, "If you think track and field is super exciting, then you're kidding yourself. Only a small percentage of the sporting world thinks that running is a "cool" or "exciting" sport. Just watch the coverage of the NCAAs or USA Championships. The announcers are a joke (every single one of them), they focus on all the wrong elements of the events (i.e. they skipped all the women races at NCAAs to watch the guys' warmups), and 95% of the coverage is of a non-event (the warmups or false starts). I don't understand why the running community gets upset when other people say that track is boring. Just be honest with yourself and admit that the only reason that you think track is interesting is because you yourself participated in it at one time or another. On the grand scheme of things, track is between badminton and curling, several notches below competitive poker. Just being honest."

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