Olympic legend, Michael Johnson, once stated, “Great athletes and good competition equal a quality product. This leads to more fans, that leads to more media rights and sponsors.” He was referring to professional track; however, all levels of our sport should follow his recommendations, in order to keep our magnificent sport viable.

The attendance at the 2023 Grand Prix meet in Los Angeles was 7,249, despite being advertised as the “greatest array of track talent to appear since the ‘84 L.A. Olympics.” This headline  appeared prior to the meet:  “L.A. Grand Prix Stars Skip Out of Meet Before and During the Event”; unfortunately, this seems to be a trend on the professional level and is very common in collegiate competition that is rarely scored.

--The times and distances at the 2023 OHSAA State track meet were phenomenal, as they seem to be each year. The increased number of indoor tracks that are available for both competition and practice, shoe design, and the increase of accessible information on training, are among the many reasons for the continuous improvement of the performances.

--The Columbus Dispatch gave minimal coverage to this year’s state track championship, despite many national-class performances. Kaler Nastari of Division 3 United High School, established a new Jesse Owens’ Stadium record of 1:48.31, in the 800, which was one of many incredible marks.

--Many of those are involved in our sport use the improvement as a measurement of its health. For example, at the Arcadia Meet in California, 44 high school athletes ran under 9:00 in the 2 mile races.

--The OHSAA has approved May 15, as the starting date for summer football programs, including 7 on 7 tournaments. Apparently the fact the this coincides with the beginning of district track meets and other spring sports makes no difference to the powers that be. OHSAA Commissioner Doug Ute gave the following quotes in the June 4, edition of the Dispatch, in the “State of the State:” “Most of our schools are getting out in the middle of May.” Why is starting at this time SO important, as it will invariably create conflicts for football players who compete in spring sports? Delaying this start until after the state championships would still allow plenty of time to accomplish their goals in football during the 13 days allowed, prior to July 31.

This decision was encouraged by conversations with the (football) staff at Ohio State, and also at Cincinnati. “Without spring football, what can we do?” I wonder if there were conversations with the track, baseball, and other spring sport coaches about the decision. I guess we know who has the most influence. When did the OHSAA become responsible for making sure that the professional teams at OSU and other Division I schools satisfy their warped needs at the expense of high school sports?

Did track coaches know about the decision? If they or their representative organizations were aware, why wasn’t something done to prevent his potentially damaging decision from being made?

--This question was recently asked on the popular blog site, “Let’s Run”(6/6/23). “Is there a channel that will be broadcasting the events live? (NCAA Outdoor Championship) If so, can someone share the details? I have tried to look online, but there seems to be a bunch of confusion.” There doesn’t seem to be a problem when looking at any newspaper guide for sports broadcasting of auto racing, college baseball and softball, horse racing, men’s and women’s basketball, sailing, men’s hockey, men’s soccer, speed skating, swimming, tennis, women’s hockey, women’s lacrosse, XFL, wrestling, etc. These are examples of the TV listings on a typical Sunday sports page in a prominent state newspaper. This is the same media outlet that addressed three NCAA national qualifiers with a short paragraph, with their marks listed in metrics.

--Despite the continued improved performances, those who love our sport must be vigilant about the many decisions that can create damage. We cannot afford to be reactionary, but we must always be on the offensive and look for ways to make track and field more appealing to the public. The sports of wrestling, volleyball, professional golf, and others have been aggressive and creative in their approach, in the media and in their venues and events.

--Running Up the Mountain was recently released. Authors Matt Baxter and Ron Mann have written an interesting and inspiring book about Northern Arizona’s cross-country program, which has become a dynasty. It will be a great addition to the library of any fan or coach of the sport.

Yours in Track,

Rod O’Donnell

Read more of Coach O'Donnell’s articles on www.runohio.com 

Spring 2023 - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/404-keeping-track-spring-2023-by-rod-o-donnell 

2022 Thoughts - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/341-keeping-track-2022-thoughts-by-rod-o-donnell 

Life Lessons from Cross-Country - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/10-life-lessons-from-cross-country-updated-2020   

Keeping Track – Remembering – http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/211-keeping-track-remembering-by-rod-o-donnell  

Facts - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/100-keeping-track-facts         

Track - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/67-keeping-trac             

Critical Time for Cross Country and Track & Field - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/96-track             

Keeping Track - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/289-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnel l

Football and Track & Field - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/78-keeping-track-football-and-track-field            

Two Book Reviews - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/263-keeping-track-two-book-reviews-by-rod-o-donnell 

2021 Track & Field - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/200-keeping-track-2021-track-field      

Keeping Track - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/173-keeping-track-2    

2020 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/134-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell-2020-ohsaa-state-cross-country-championships  

COVID 19 and Sports - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/120-keeping-track-covid-19-and-sports-by-rod-o-donnell     

Marc Bloom’s Amazing Racers - https://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/43-keeping-track-marc-bloom-s-amazing-racers-by-rod-o-donnel    

When Legends Run Free - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/396-keeping-track-when-legends-run-free-by-rod-o-donnell     

Ohio Men College Runners – https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/235-keeping-track-ohio-men-college-runners-by-rod-o-donnell  

Marshall University add Men’s Track & Field - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/336-keeping-track-marshall-university-add-men-s-track-field-by-rod-o-donnell  

College of William & Mary – http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/121-keeping-track-college-of-william-mary-by-rod-o-donnell      

Have a Healthy, Happy and Safe 2024!

Pick up a copy of the current RUNOHIO at your favorite running store or at the Ohio Association of Track & Field Coaches Clinic - https://www.oatccc.com/Clinics/Track-And-Field 

I hope to see you at a race.

Matt McGowan