Last week, Ben was interviewed by Paul Swangard about the state of teh sport and what we can do to improve before the LA Olympics in 2028. Ben didn't love his answers so he thought about it and then wrote a piece that elaborated on his thoughts.
I think they are interesting.
Basically he starts by saying, “I hope that by 2028 we’re in a place where the Olympics is no longer the pinnacle of our sport.” Yes the Olympcis are great but there are so many Olympic sports now even if you win Olympic gold, you are no longer a huge deal like you were in the past. Matthew Centrowitz is far from a big deal in American as compared to say Bruce Jenner in 1976.
He thinks tracks problem is it isn't treated like a pro sport and he wants to borrow from golf and tennis. They went pro a long time ago and created four majors that are really big mult-day parties. He wants track and field to do the same.
Ben Rosario wrote:
Now to this point, I’ve been very factual and grounded, borderline cynical even. But if we want to take a crack at creating something new, I have to delve into some hypotheticals. I have to skew optimistic. So here we go. Let’s create some “majors” for track and field—four annual events that can showcase the sport at its highest level, that can attract fans from all over the globe to attend, can look good on television, and can eventually be more meaningful to the athletes than the Olympic Games. Here’s what I think they could be:
1) THE PREFONTAINE CLASSIC – Eugene, Oregon, United States of America: Right off the bat we buy this out from under from the Diamond League. You know those World Athletics big wigs don’t like slumming it in Eugene anyway. Held in late May (prime track season in the U.S.), we transform “Tracktown” like Vin Lananna did in 2008, 2012, and 2016 for the Olympic Trials. The meet becomes a week-long celebration of the sport, and a full-on party, complete with patrons chugging beers at the Deschutes Brewery Tent during the meet and heading over to the Wild Duck every night for a few more afterward. Every single event is on the docket (yes- even racewalking). But we split it up. We don’t make sprint fans sit through the 10,000. And we don’t make distance fans watch the 200. Each day is packaged into two “blocks.” Field event fans can buy a day pass on Wednesday to watch the Throws. Then we clear things out and distance fans can watch back-to-back 10,000s on Wednesday night. And so on and so on, you get the picture. It becomes a huge deal to win a Prefontaine Event. Winners get something unique. I heard a Green Jacket is already taken, but I am sure someone smarter than me can come up with a winning idea.
2) THE CHAMPIONSHIPS – London, England: Those Brits are so pretentious. We wanted to name this one after someone like Paula Radcliffe or Daley Thompson but, like the Open Championship in Golf, they have to be different. Okay, whatever, that’s fine. Held in late June, this thing tries every year to out-do Prefontaine. They too, have beer—lots of it. And don’t even get me started on the fish and chips. Plus, this is the longest of the four meets. They technically hold the opening ceremony two weeks before the meet ends, but that’s just so they can call it a fortnight. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same format as Pre (it’s going to work so why mess with a good thing). The big difference is the fans, who break out into organized chants just like they do at their other favorite sport—football (aka soccer).
3) THE GERMAN OPEN – Berlin, Germany: Track fans in this part of Europe are awesome. There is no way you could have a set of majors without one being in Berlin. You hold it in late July and you let the Germans do their thing. They are going to put on one heck of a show. After all, this is the same country that hosts the Berlin Marathon after party at a full-on night club and had Eliud Kipchoge walk through the crowd like he was a heavyweight boxer entering the ring before a fight to the tune of We are the Champions after he set the World Record.
4) TOKYO MEET OF CHAMPIONS – Tokyo, Japan: I don’t know why we called it the Tokyo Meet of Champions. High School Meets here in the U.S. are sometimes called that and they seem pretty cool so we tried it. This is the last “major” of the calendar year. The athletes bring it because this is the end of their season. We hold it in mid-October, the same time that the 1964 Olympics were held. Hey- some callbacks to the Olympics aren’t the worst (even if we are trying to outdo them). The fans in Japan roll out the red carpet for the athletes—they’re treated like kings and queens from the moment they step off the plane. While no major outshines the other, secretly it means a little more to the athletes to win in Tokyo.
Now he admits he doesn't have all of the answers but it's definitely worth a read and brainstorming is good. What do you think?