With the end of the relay carnival portion of the season, excitement turns to what I call the "pre-European" invitationals. That series of meets leading up to National Championships that includes meets like New York, Carson, Eugene, Doha, Osaka, Kingston and others. The meets are always hot, with good to great competition and serve to really get fans hyped leading into the various National Championships.
So, being the avid fan that I am, I went in search of information to find out what type of matchups we can expect. Now I understand that lineups may not be completely ironed out for some meets as they are still weeks away. But I expected to at least get a snippet of information - enough to get me excited about "who else" might line up on the track.
First search was for the Jamaica Invitational , or the Kingston meet as many call it. And I find - nothing. No web site, no start lists, and no articles highlighting the upcoming meet - and it is only FIVE DAYS AWAY! I've emailed some coaches to see if they have athletes that are going, and while I've found out about a couple of athletes that will be attending, no one I have talked to has any additional information.
I did similar searches for the Doha and Osaka meets, and got the same results - nothing. Again no web sites, no start lists, and no articles highlighting the meets, which means that no press releases have been sent out. And these are all major international competitions, approximately 10 days away, with results that will be on par with any of the Visa Series, Golden League, or European Circuit meets. Yet the best source of information will be second hand through the results section of the IAAF web site.
While these meets are all well attended at home, they are international in nature and thus serve a larger audience. Fans all over the world will want up to the minute information in what has become the Information Age. A web site that contains current news, history, photos, videos, athlete profiles, and other media/multi media data is a must. And no site is complete without "LIVE" RESULTS, because we die hard fans will be sitting in front of our computers thousands of miles away "watching" each event through the immediate results that are provided. Then there are those meets sophisticated enough to provide us with live video streaming of the event!
This is what makes up the elite meet experience for the fan at home when attending in person, or watching on television is just not a viable alternative. Personally, I don't think any meet should be granted "Permit" status by the IAAF without having at least a rudimentary web site in place. "Grand Prix" and "Super Grand Prix" status should require everything up to LIVE video streaming. And all National and Global Championships should be working on providing LIVE streaming of their events.
This is how we can build our audience in the New Millennium - by harnessing and utilizing the capabilities of the Internet. Today track and field can reach far beyond the boundaries of any individual stadium. If we want to attract today's sporting consumer, utilizing the Internet is how to do it. Not by cutting back on the product in the stadium, but by bringing it to the consumer in the manner to which he/she is becoming accustomed to receiving it.
And at the very least, keep us die hard fans - the sports' base - happy and engaged by giving us the information that we need to stay connected. It's hard to follow the game without a program. And some of these meets aren't giving us a program. So those of you out there that are in charge of meets get on the ball and get your sites/programs together!