In America, you win or lose. 5th place is not to be celebrated even if you did your best. Casual fans can only relate to winners casually because of their own shortcomings in effort to produce their own best at anything. They fantasize about being a winner and not a loser. This is an occassional escape from their daily reality. Not enough to hook them into being more than casual at best.
American ball game sports are often decided by total dominance, luck or error of the opposing team, maybe even a bad call by an official. But there is usually 1 winner and 1 loser. Track has one winner but how can casual fans relate at all to all of those losers? To a casual fan, the only thing more boring than track is field.
I prefer to cast a broad net and promote the sport to the youth who are participating now, give them an unforgettable experience and learn to love the slort not only for performance but the people, who they were/are, why their efforts were important and memorable and to show them what is possible. Even the non elites on my teams believed in the positive virtues of the sport. Many went on to teach and coach, to inspire others to be their best, recognize the efforts of those who came before and wonder what is possible.