Athletics: Sooner we say the eulogy the sooner it can be resurrected

A Column By Joshua Kristos Papanikolaou

Track and field is dead.

In terms of a professional spectacle it matters to very few people in the world and that won’t change until everyone who loves the sport accepts that fact.

So many things need to change and the ongoing drug revelations are obviously only making it harder to draw a line in the sand and start over.

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Reeling off a bunch of ‘this will fix it’ ideas is usually how these articles turn out but I’ll leave that to others.

At a domestic and national level there are more than enough anomalies that ought to be attended to first, instead of trying to find the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow we can’t even see yet.

Let’s change the things we can control instead of wasting time and energy whinging about how out of sorts athletics is at an international level.

For a sport that is desperately struggling to find a way to convert its popularity with kids to the senior and then elite level it is one of the most non-inclusive institutions in this country.

It’s littered with unnecessary rules, costs and racing format/schedules that even shuns many of the biggest athletics junkies.

A prime example is the Zatopek:10 event that for some reason costs an adult $20 to watch six races and two field events.

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I can go to the Melbourne derby this weekend for $25 and even that is viewed as overpriced by many.

Furthermore, at that game I will be able to see the scoreboard – while standing at the 200m start in lane three at Lakeside I could not even see one race clock.

We ideally want non-athletics people to come and enjoy the sport, know what’s going on, well at least show them the race time (and the odd split over the commentary would be marvellous).

On another note, no one knew about this race apart from the people who will go regardless – I work at a sports radio station in Melbourne and had heard the word Zatopek maybe five times, and only because Dave Culbert is on.

I can’t even bring myself to go through how athletics is run at a club level, in this state at least – you’d need a degree to follow who races who and where and why.

The whole format benefits neither the masses nor the elites, which is a shame because track and field is a rare sport where you can partake in a club event with those at the professional level.

The sport of athletics is in a bad way but instead of aimlessly scouring for the silver bullet there are so many little things that can make the resurrection of this sport easier if they are fixed.