Watching the World Cup recently (my first child will now be named John Brooks!), it became very apparent that the international game is truly universal. Soccer (or football to my non-U.S. brethren) is a wildly popular sport, enjoyed by millions of fans worldwide. Here in the U.S., it continues to grow. There is however another sport that is universal, with solidified rules and standards. The international sport of track has fixed distances and each person/team can be measured with the same standards. Why the lack of (perceived on my part) support in running vs. soccer? Track needs more excitement. A Nike sponsored athlete (the great Phoebe Wright) did a blog post on how baseball could teach track a little something, and so I s̶ᴛ̶ᴏ̶ʟ̶ᴇ̶ took that idea and ran with it for Soccer. Here is what I have come up with to help out our sport:
1. Face Paint. Show up to a track meet, with your face painted with your team logo and you get to sit in the VIP section (by the start/finish line). Yes, track has teams other than national teams (Oregon Project, Brooks Beasts, Bowerman Athletic Club, Mammoth Track Club, NJNY, Furman, etc).
2. Vuvuzelas. Fans are encouraged to bring noisemakers (vuvuzelas, hand clappers, bang sticks, trash can lids, fog horns, etc) to cheer on their squads. Only requirement (request) would be not to use them before the start gun goes off. False start due to early noisemaking? Fan gets lifetime ban or auto entry into the 5,000m race that day. If they walk, they get the lifetime ban. That's right, we're tougher than the USADA.
3. Flopping. Get off to a bad start in the first 20 meters? Flop. Get boxed in? Flop. Have dead legs in the last 200m of your race? Flop. If you're a fan favorite, the race will get paused and you will get an immediate trainer out to you with the magic spray (If you know what that spray is, I'll take a case of it). Everyone gets positioned according to where they were when the flop happened, and the race resumes (Flotrack is on hand at every major meet to video, right?). The flopper gets moved forward or out, (their choice) by 2 meters.
4. Yellow/Red Cards. Infractions could be handed out for veering too wide on a straight away, elbowing someone, looking back over your shoulder too many times (I see you Edward Cheserek), really tripping someone (not like Gabriele Grunewald), or spiking an opponent (on purpose)
5. Goal/Finish line keeper. A teammate will be at the finish line to block your opponents from crossing first. Contact is encouraged. A different element to your training will now be necessary. For longer distance races, the Finish line keeper could make contact every 800 meters.
I am sure others will come up with more ideas. Feel free to add your own and discuss in the comments below.