VOX POPULI: The Match: USA vs. Europe was “refreshing”

So, I watched the U.S. vs. Europe matchup on my NBCsportsnetwork channel … my video recorder is programmed to record all track & field meets on any channel.

I’ve become somewhat bored watching the Diamond League events, in spite of the number of outstanding performances that raise their heads from the muck, specifically the 400 meter hurdles events for men and women, and a few others such as the women’s 100 hurdles, which are competitive and exciting on a consistent basis.

But, the effort of bringing team competition into the mix of available track & field spectatorship, was very refreshing, and made the meet somewhat compelling and exciting to watch, even without a plethora of top ranked athletes and results. So here is my short list of what made the meet worth watching, and, possibly a template for a future series of similar events:

1. Team scoring:

A unique scoring system of 9,7, 5,4,3,2 1 for all eight places. This made depth of quality important, not just the winner or even first three places. We definitely need more of this as an enticement for competition. (as in swimming, which can reward up to 16 places in meets).

2. Identifiable uniforms.

3. Total team scores, including men and women’s events, not separated.

3a. Coed relays scored.

4. A novel venue (Minsk, Belarus…enthusiastic fans in a non-traditional area)

5. NO pacesetters.

It’s about time. This should be universally accepted, even outlawed in the sport.

On the negative side, my usual complaints about the one-and-out false-start rule. In this particular case, the start was noticeable only to the hypersensitive starting blocks, which allows for an athlete to be red-carded (DQ’d) for a quicker-than-humanly averaged response time.

I agree that the rule is OK to allow for the meet to progress, but unless a false start is noticeable to the naked eye (which it hardly was), a warning yellow card should enable the athlete to continue, rather than wasting an even a greater amount of time in arguing in settling the computerized disqualification.

Responses are welcomed, as well as suggestions for the future of events such as this and the World Relays.
~ Ron Brumel (Los Angeles, California)

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