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    11,000-word "white paper" on how elite track should emulate pro tennis
    #1
    My old masters high jump friend Tom VanZandt has written an amazing "white paper" (I call it a manifesto) on how to turbocharge elite track and field for the sake of more revenues, TV, fan popularity and overall respect.

    Check it out:

    http://masterstrack.com/tom-vanzandt...ennis-formula/

    This is more than a think piece. He cites tons of sources and knows his stuff.

    Here are some key quotes (read manifesto for full context):

    Roughly speaking, about 400 combined men and women in tennis earn more than $100K per year. In contrast, ET&F, through its major tour (IAAF Diamond League), provided $100K+ to only ten athletes in 201619. 400th place on the ET&F list (the ranking position corresponding to ~$100K annual prize money in PT) was worth only $4K in the Diamond League!

    The data indicate that PT [professional tennis] puts on a larger number of events at all levels, and that it provides a much larger amount of direct athlete compensation (~18X, relative to ET&F). Currently, PT supports a franchise of annual “happenings” (major events) that are much larger, and more frequent.

    Rather than simply asking “what ET&F should do in the future”, I believe that there is value in trying to understand those critical attributes of PT, which ET&F may be lacking.

    I suggest that ET&F has put too much emphasis on individual stars. The media speculation of the impending retirement of Usain Bolt is one example. The uncertainty that this inevitable event causes for ET&F (and even the entire Olympic movement) leads to the type of existential crisis that PT seems to avoid.

    Quite simply, ET&F athletes do not compete very frequently.

    One calculates an average number of races/events per male athlete of 9.92, within an average 8.12 distinct meetings, during the 2016 outdoor season.

    Within our PT archetype, it is observed that a similar sample of male ATP athletes competed in a per capita average of 22.25 separate tournaments in 2016, playing an average 61.19 individual matches39. Women WTA players are similarly active: WTA Singles players played in a per capita 19.5 tournaments, involving 60.25 matches.

    I propose that ET&F’s overall competition structure, which limits meetings, athlete starts, and overall customer exposure, is a root cause of this disparity. To be blunt, ET&F Tour is not yet successful enough to indulge in a relatively short work schedule!

    The strong sense I have is that ET&F does not have significant confidence in the overall value of its product. It makes numerous (seemingly rational) accommodations and adjustments to the format of what it does offer to its customers.

    The alternative approach, proudly offering more of nearly everything (e.g., more and longer meetings, larger fields, more rounds of competition, etc.), seems far more consistent with the approach of PT.

    Fox Sport’s coverage of the recent 2017 US Open golf tournament, I counted about 90 complete video sequences per hour, showing individual player shots. That is a lot of camera switching over 5 hours of live TV! In comparison, coverage of ET&F is not big on rapid switching between venues. Rather, it likes to limit, and to more heavily edit, what it does show.

    I maintain the view that that the totality of these efforts amounts to a business that is offering too little of a product to potential customers.
    Again, my intent is not to endlessly attack the current state of the ET&F enterprise. On the contrary, the archetype of PT offers an existence proof that points the way toward improvement. A key takeaway for me from this data is that in both cases, the value of TV to the each enterprise pretty much matches the size of the entity itself.

    Perhaps the value of the IOC/Olympics to ET&F is bigger than I understand. It may be, but no observable data seem to argue this point. Rather, I have concluded that the economic benefit to ET&F of Olympic participation is relatively small.

    It is clear to me that as one of the flagship sports at each Summer Olympics, ET&F is not sharing sufficiently in a pot of revenue that it is helping to generate.

    An alternative way of looking at the position and value of ET&F in the Olympic business is to ask the thought-experiment questions: “What would happen if ET&F decided not to participate in the Olympics? Or, what would the IOC be prepared to pay to ensure its participation?” These are not completely academic questions.

    K E N
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    #2
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    Revenue and TV spots all comes down to advertising. Who's doing it and directed at whom. What does golf and tennis sell and to whom?
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    #3
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    Selling tennis and T&F have nothing in common. There's still tons of aging tennis players out there who play regularly. In contrast, there aren't nearly as many masters T&Fers who regularly still compete. Tennis and golf are country-club sports and they're marketed as such. T&F is not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atticus View Post
    Selling tennis and T&F have nothing in common. There's still tons of aging tennis players out there who play regularly. In contrast, there aren't nearly as many masters T&Fers who regularly still compete. Tennis and golf are country-club sports and they're marketed as such. T&F is not.
    Exactly and that is a problem.
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    #5
    Tennis is just trying to copy gold in having 4 events that matter. They fail though, because nobody cares about a tournament in Australia that is never at the right time for live TV coverage, and the clay one doesn't count, of course. Really just the one in England counts for anything. Still puts it way ahead of track though, since one competition that matters per year is better than one every 4 years.

    This ignores the huge problem that tennis is an individual sport with only one event, while track had like 2 dozen. In track, singles is the 100 meters, and every other event is doubles or mixed doubles. Do those guys ever show up on the cover of SI or get on sports center?
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by KenStone View Post
    Quite simply, ET&F athletes do not compete very frequently.

    One calculates an average number of races/events per male athlete of 9.92, within an average 8.12 distinct meetings, during the 2016 outdoor season.

    Within our PT archetype, it is observed that a similar sample of male ATP athletes competed in a per capita average of 22.25 separate tournaments in 2016, playing an average 61.19 individual matches39. Women WTA players are similarly active: WTA Singles players played in a per capita 19.5 tournaments, involving 60.25 matches.
    There's a very solid reason T&F athletes don't compete that often.
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by gm View Post
    There's a very solid reason T&F athletes don't compete that often.
    While there may be a solid reason why track and field athletes don't compete often, there is absolutely no reason why they don't face each other more often (especially in the men sprint). If you want to cure T&F the second thing to do is have four pre-WCH meetings that all invited athletes MUST attend. Just imaging if we would have seen Gatlin vs. Bolt (or Gay vs. Bolt) four times instead of only in the major final.
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    #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenStone View Post
    “What would happen if ET&F decided not to participate in the Olympics?

    K E N
    The IOC would replace it with Rhythmic Monkey Boxing.
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by olorin View Post
    While there may be a solid reason why track and field athletes don't compete often, there is absolutely no reason why they don't face each other more often (especially in the men sprint).
    Sure there is. Who is going to pay for it? Meet budgets are already tight, do you want to kill them?
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by gm View Post
    Sure there is. Who is going to pay for it? Meet budgets are already tight, do you want to kill them?
    This is an chicken and egg question.

    I am sure that Bolt vs Gatlin (even today) will attract much more viewing than yesterday meet. Tell the two primadonnas that either they compete or they are out of the WC (or Olympics) and then you can pay the athletes more.

    Messi cannot decide to play only in important games. A basketball player cannot decide to play only in the playoff. Naddal and Federer meet each other regularly outside the grand-slam competitions. Yet, our athletes can decide that due to their beloved mind games they will duck each other for the entire year (except for WC/Olympics).

    You can package the product anyway you want, but right now our product itself (grand Prix) is bad.

    But of course this will not help either, unless we solve the major issue that we are all too tired to talk about (Kill WADA)
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