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RE: Why was distance running so popular in the 70s (or 80s)? Was it more popular than football?
the ITA was a little before my time or before i followed track.
i do remember watching geoff smith and rod dixon going at it - incredible race. it was either live or short tape delay, and was covered start to finish.
also, back then it was often the case that college football players and some nfl guys participated in track meets - renaldo nehemiah, herschel(sp) walker, bo jackson, etc.
somewhere along the way, everything started to collapse - beer advertising pulled out, "aerobics" became trendy, "more is less" and "finishing is winning" began to creep in.
race directors began simply going for numbers - so everyone was welcomed and encouraged. then along came the clown costumes, jugglers, etc.
at the same time came the rise of the africans - the press started covering the obese woman who had a wooden leg with a kickstand.
college football coaches started up more spring training camps, etc. and de-emphasized track.
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