TRACK & FIELD IS, OF COURSE, THE GREATEST sport going. But why not make it even more enjoyable? Revisiting a concept I first posed a decade ago in this spot, here in no particular order are 11 ways to increase your enjoyment of the sport:
1. Don’t sit close to the track. Sitting down close, even at the finish line—just like center court or the 50-yard line—is way overrated. If you really want to watch races develop, or follow the field events, sit high up. Even consider sitting on the backstretch, near the 1500 start. That’s an amazing vantage point.
2. Think of the sport as field & track. Unskilled announcers and poor visual aids can make this a tough one, but learn to enjoy the ebb and flow of the jumps and throws. Chart the event yourself.
3. Bring a non-fan to the meet. Not only will you have the chance to create new followers, you can also boost your ego by being expert-for-a-day. Cultivate your kids, if you’re of an age.
4. Join or form a track fantasy league. “Owning” athletes is a real kick in the pants (and sometimes in the head).
5. Volunteer to work a meet. The sport gives lots to you; give something back, even if it’s just raking the pit. Better yet, think about becoming an official, a commodity we’re woefully short on in most places.
6. Combine going to meets with tourism. No matter where you live, or how little time you have, there are always things worth stopping to see.
7. Visit both ends of the spectrum. If you like high school track, with all its purity and unfettered emotion, step up to the collegiate scene, or even the pros. Be blown away by the talent those at the top end exhibit. Conversely, if you’re jaded by the Euro Circuit, go and watch an elementary-school field day. The sight of those uncoordinated little critters giving their all will bring tears to your eyes.
8. Forget you’re a T&FN reader when you watch track on TV. Out of necessity, they’re pitching the sport at a wide demographic, one that’s not remotely track-savvy. Be thankful for what you get and revel in the fact that you understand the sport so well.
9. Go out to dinner with other fans after a meet. If you enjoyed the meet the first time round, you’ll enjoy it even more when you rehash a race, or fight over what strategy might have helped Lagat beat El Guerrouj back in ’04. Debate whether or not the no-false start rule is good or bad. Be sure to include the non-fan (Rule 3) here.
10. Even if you’re a Luddite, embrace the electronic age. You don’t have to go the 24/7 route, but learn to follow the sport on-line. Check out the social media aspect.
11. Scribble in your program, and keep it. This is your own permanent record. Pull it out days/weeks/months/years later and relive that great 100 when you read, “Jones 10.54, Smith 10.55, Johnson 10.55.”
The corollary to this last, of course, is the First Commandment: Never throw away a copy of T&FN!
From The Editor: April 2012