April 23, 2004

Race tries to attract top American runners: Jerry Crockett, chairman of the long-distance running division of USA Track & Field said "It's a little bit of a sad commentary that our runners can't compete with the Kenyans and Ethiopians on a championship scale, but we're getting there." Well, attempting to discourage non-Americans from participating is one way to do it, I guess.

posted by sixpacker to other at 09:02 AM - 7 comments

Heh. Next thing you'll be proclaiming the champions of your domestic American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey leagues as "world champions"...

posted by salmacis at 09:39 AM on April 23, 2004

salmacis, I always thought that those types of comments were weak. It seems to me that no professional team from elsewhere in the world could beat the Marlins, Spurs, Devils or Patriots. And I don't think an exhibition grudge match is needed to make the title legit, though it may be fun to watch (especially in hockey and b-ball). Now, don't get me wrong, the time may be coming where we get further from an "actual" world champion in some sports with viable, competitive leagues growing in many areas. But right now the best baseball players, basketball players, hockey players, and American football players are playing in MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL... And if you beat other teams made up of the best players in the world, you can have the title as far as I'm concerned.

posted by 86 at 09:55 AM on April 23, 2004

Sorry, if I just de-railed this thread. Jerry Crockett has a tough job, by the looks of it.

posted by 86 at 09:56 AM on April 23, 2004

Heh. Next thing you'll be proclaiming the champions of your domestic American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey leagues as "world champions"... What does that have to do with distance running? Quit trolling.

posted by molafson at 09:59 AM on April 23, 2004

It's funny to see that. I don't think of things here as trolling. Ok, occasionally, but not usually. Sure, sal was making a snarky-ish comment, but it's probably something that deserves discussion as it pops up from time to time. I'm lazy, but maybe we should start a lockerroom fact-or-myth thread about "World Champions".

posted by 86 at 10:39 AM on April 23, 2004

There is a definite lack of presence & impact by US Runners, but I think it's from a lack of proper training & discipline. I was talking to my dad after the Boston Marathon, which he ran 6 times while in his late 30's and early 40's, and he put his times (from 20 years ago, best being 2:43) up against this year's times and he would have finished in 8th Place in the Master's Division (age 40-49). A dramatic improvement from his day. His running club had 8 people enter this year, and only one of them put up a sub 3 hour time. He was careful to not sound like a crotchedy old man with the "back in my day" speak, but runners didn't lift weights back then. They concentrated on diet & exercise to increase endurance. Not to mention they embraced high carbs. So Zone and Atkins disciples need not apply. Not sure what my point is here, but long distance running seems to be the one sport that hasn't benefitted from advances in technology. You would think records would continue to be broken as science comes up with newer & better supplements. Unless they come up with one that makes you Kenyan, then the US will continue to lag in these events.

posted by usfbull at 10:40 AM on April 23, 2004

I think for a sport to flourish in any country, there has to be a sustained cultural commitment to that sport. This means more than media coverage and/or prize money. It means that that sport is a part of people's everyday lives (like hockey in Canada). When that is the case, a large number of kids participate in the sport and acquire the necessary skills. From this large group, a relatively large number of skilled athletes emerge. Now because the sport is prominent, these exceptional athletes are encouraged at every level. If they're good enough they can focus entirely on their training. And if they succeed, they can expect to make a good living off their sport. Alpine skiing is like this in Austria; cricket is like this in India; and football is like this in America (for instance). On the other hand, sports like distance running are marginalized in America. They may be practiced enough that a freak like Lance Armstrong can emerge, but that's about it.

posted by molafson at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2004

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