Well folks, summertime is finally here. Finals week is over, college students have meandered out to a quiet life of working to pay for tuition (or in my case) to have enough money for alcohol for the fall.
Summertime also brings on what I like to call sports hell. The NCAA tournament is over, baseball is in miles 7-16 of its marathon season, there’s no football action at any level – outside some message board asshole starting a daily thread about [that which shall not be spoken] and the NBA is keeping ESPN afloat with Month 8 of the playoffs.
Flipping through the channels, however, I was shocked to discover that – holy shit – there are actually sports going on in the summer. Since there’s a long way to go until fall semester starts and NFL training camp kicks off in late July, I figured I’d spend some time "analyzing" these mysterious sports – particularly from the perspective of someone watching the sport.
Part 2 – Track and Field
Happy Memorial Day, readers! Make sure to take the time to thank a veteran today!
This week’s topic is one of the oldest sports in existence, but first, an update on last week’s topic – Brett Favre-a-thon.
As luck would have had it, on the day I posted the article, Brett underwent ankle surgery that would "put him on schedule to report to training camp" given four to six weeks of rehab. Note the words, "training camp" in that statement. The timing of the surgery puts Favre on course for a return sometime between June 18 and July 2. According to the Vikings off-season schedule, that means he gets to miss all of the OTA’s AND the mandatory mini-camp, allowing him to only show up for training camp at July 27, play some preseason ball, and kick off the season. Not shocking for the man who hated working out in the off-season so much he conned the Packers into excusing him from OTA’s and Minicamps most years…
On to this week’s topic.
Now, for full disclosure, I ran some track/field in high school. Well, "ran" is a little misleading. I threw shot and disc because the coach also happened to be the football coach, and it allowed him to keep on us about lifting in the offseason without breaking any rules. However, that does mean that I’ve sat through many a track meet, and let me tell you…
A track meet is one of the most boring sporting events of all time.
Now, I know the response. If you think about the Summer Olympics, what events come to mind? Gymnastics, Swimming (Michael Phelps effect), Basketball, and the Track events. The 100 meter dash might be one of the most prestigious (and most watched) Olympic events.
See, that’s the thing. If you watch a track event on TV, you get to see the end result of a long, drawn out process. The finals of the individual events are a blast. Watching the ENTIRE track meet, however, sucks donkey balls. Going to a track meet for the finals is like watching a shitty movie because a hot actress has a topless scene (for example, Halle Berry in Swordfish).
At the meet, you get hours of boredom and a couple seconds of joy. Track on TV is like logging on to Mr. Skin and knowing to fast forward 38 minutes to see Halle’s chesticles for six seconds, Between the countless prelims and what seems like eons setting up in between events, you better have something to preoccupy yourself.
Field is no better. A year ago when Usain Bolt made Sportscenter’s Top 10 for the day, an anchor, looking to fill the void, commented, "Do you know the only thing more boring than Track? Field." His comment smacked the hornet’s nest of in-denial track enthusiasts who think sitting on their asses all day watching people run around and turn left is the best thing ever. Way better than their usual pastimes, watching snails move across the concrete and staring at drying paint. They sent a flurry of hate mail to Scott Van Pelt, who didn’t even work that time slot, before the culprit revealed himself: John Anderson, former track captain at Mizz-who. Oops. You know it’s bad when one of your own disses your sport.
Not being one to blindly criticize without offering suggestions for improvement, we at WRNL have come up with a few suggestions to improve the experience at a track meet.
- Add the beer mile as an event
Now THIS I would pay to see. If you’re unfamiliar with the beer mile, it’s pretty simple. It’s just a mile run…should be easy for track runners, right? Wrong. In the beer mile, you’ve got to slam down a (minimum 5% ABV) beer before every lap – no shotgunning, just chugging. If you puke, you have to do a penalty lap.
- Make the "Fat Guy 4-by-1″ (Thrower’s Relay) an official event
You know what’s more entertaining than watching a bunch of skinny people run around a track with ease? Watching a bunch of big, burly shot, disc, and hammer throwers rumble around the track. In this event, you pick four of your team’s throwers and make them run a 4×100 meter relay. It’s already done at a lot of high school meets as a joke, why not make it count for something? Simple concept, simply funny.
- Add a "Topless 2-mile" as an event
Remember the scene from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life where the guy gets chased off the cliff by a bunch of topless chicks wearing rollerball gear? Yeah, me too, and I think America would get behind watching 8 minutes of topless chicks running around a track.
New field events. Exactly like the movie.
- Have something going on in between events, for God’s sake
Probably the only legitimate suggestion I have. Seriously, there’s a great big football field in the middle of the track. Have something going on. A pick-up football/rugby (or soccer in Europe) match. Cirque du Soleil. Pudding wrestling. SOMETHING to keep people occupied during the dead space.
I want to back up a minute to the topic of Usain Bolt. I don’t think I’m alone in saying the most entertaining moment of the 2008 Summer Olympics was Bolt absolutely shit-stomping the field in the 100-meter dash.
In the Mr. Skin tradition, the race is at the 0:25, replays at 3:35, 3:54, and slow-mos of the finish at 4:12 and 4:30.
I have to say, I was surprised the Olympic Committee or some mysterious Track and Field entity didn’t throw the book at Bolt for his early celebration. Seriously, this is a sport that disqualified a student for wearing a friendship bracelet, changing the course of the meet. Bolt’s lucky he didn’t compete for the NCAA…who probably would have taken it away from him like they want to do in football for his premature celebration. I mean, seriously? I understand discouraging celebrating after a big moment, but taking it away? Can any of us imagine having Brent Curvey’s touchdown runback in the 2005 CU "Tornado Game" taken away?
On a final note, I’d like to take this opportunity to make the first-ever WRNL "Cyclone shout-out", an award we may give periodically whenever one of our fellow Cyclone athletes does something awesome. While I’m enjoying myself poking fun at the sports I’m commenting on, I sure as hell respect the athletes who compete in them, because frankly, there’s no way in hell any of us at WRNL could hope to compete at their sport at the level they do.
This week’s Cyclone shout-out goes to Hillary Bor, Lisa Koll, Brandon Rooney, Semehar Tesfay, and Lashawn Wright, five Cyclone Track and Field runners who all qualified for this year’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon on June 10-13. Additional shout-out goes to coach Corey Ihmels, who, in his third year, is putting ISU Track/Field and Cross Country back on the national map. Special notice goes to Bor, who should contend for the national championship in steeplechase, qualified for the NCAA’s despite losing a shoe in a race at regionals.
However, the spotlight of this Cyclone shout-out deservedly goes to Lisa Koll, another national title contender in the women’s 5-K and 10-K races, having won both at regionals. If you missed it last month, Koll shattered the college 10-K record with a time of 31:18:07. For those of us used to running miles, that’s about the same as running a 5 minute mile, six times in a row.
Now, it’s understandable to be confused as to exactly HOW an Iowa girl could be that dominant at distance running. It certainly baffled this writer. Therefore, I got drunk and a crack team of WRNL scientists researched and came up with the following possible explanations to Koll’s utter dominance…
Best of luck to all our Cyclone athletes at nationals.