How To Make Track & Field Interesting

Ken PascualContributor IAugust 19, 2009

BERLIN - AUGUST 16: Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the line to win the gold medal in the men's 100 Metres Final during day two of the 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. Bolt set a new World Record of 9.58. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Let's face it: no one cares about track and field.  It's boring.  It's something you care about for 1 week every 4 years.  Before Usain Bolt, can you remember who owned the world record in the 100m dash?  Yeah, me neither.

Thing is, track & field exhibits the most universal, purest forms of human athleticism.  Who can run from point A to point B the fastest?  Who can jump higher?  How far can you jump?  Who can throw this rock the furthest? 

In this sport, there aren't many rules: when you watch, you immediately get it.  But given its seemingly universal appeal, shouldn't track and field be more popular?  Shouldn't we be more interested in who is the fastest man or woman on the planet?

I think so. 

But problem is, track & field ain't that interesting.  There's very little excitement.  Everyone's wearing the same disgusting spandex uniforms.  They all give the same boring interviews.  Really, there's really no reason to watch, especially when SportsCenter will give you all the essential details in a 5-10 second highlight.

Here's a solution.

Let's make track and field relevant to WHY we run, jump, and throw.  Evolutionarily speaking, we run, jump, and throw for survival.  So why not make track and field simulate what cavemen endured in the olden days?

I like to call this Applied Track & Field.  Think American Gladiators without the cheese factor.  Here are a few ideas to spice it up:

100/200/400 meter dash

Why do people run?  Usually because they're running away from something.  So why not tweak these short distanced runs by releasing a pack of hungry dogs?  For even more intrigue, how about we also attach a piece of raw meat to each runner's backside?

Not only is there an incentive to come in first, but there's an even bigger incentive to NOT be last.


Why do you throw a heavy rock?  Probably to kill something before it kills you, right?  My solution: Set up a small castle/wall, with 5 dummies on top of the castle.  Give the athlete 10 rocks.  Now let the athlete try to hit all 5 dummies with the allotted rocks.

Here's the catch: to make it realistic, not only does the athlete have to "kill" the dummies, but the athlete must also dodge flaming arrows that get shot at 15 second intervals.  This is a perfect analogy to the Middle Ages, or at the very least, Middle Earth.


Why do the hurdles fall down so easily?  That's not realistic!  Let's replace those hurdles with oblong rocks, picket fences, cows, trash cans, and a tiny creek/brook.  For the truly sadistic, add barbed wire fences.

Long Jump

Let's put a moat between the jumping line and the landing area.  Hasn't every kid tried to jump a big gap or body of water?

High Jump

Electric fence.  No padding on the other side.

Pole Vault

Use wall from the Shotput contest, and have contestants wear prisoner garments.


In a large field, have a hodgepodge of farm/wild animals (pigs, cows, chickens, fish in a pond, etc.) milling about.  Then give the javelin thrower 5 spears to throw.  Depending on distance and size of the animal speared, each athlete scores points.  Athlete with the highest score wins.

This would also be an efficient way of feeding the athletes afterwards.  I'm sure PETA wouldn't approve of this event.


While we're at it, let's get rid of Racewalking and Triple Jump, which are both completely and utterly useless.

Track and field was meant to test a human's physical abilities in practical, everyday activities.  I can only hope that the sport returns to its roots.