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One New Idea at a Time

We are reinventing the sport of Track & Field, one new idea at a time.

Last night, Jesse Williams' Sound Running hosted The TEN, an Olympic Standard chase in the 10,000m, featuring some of the nation's top professionals. However, this wasn't another unknown meet in a faraway land with a livestream hidden behind a paywall. Instead, it was held in Southern California, and the broadcast was free on YouTube. And here's the kicker: the prize money was crowd funded.

Instead of charging to watch, Sound Running let everyone watch, and then metaphorically passed the hat around to entertained fans. As of Friday, the total purse was up over $4,000. During last night's broadcast, it had exceeded $8,500.

That's really cool.

I won't pretend to know the finances behind the meet, but the way I see it, instead of spending money on the prize purse, that money was diverted to streaming the event for free. I don't know if that's a breakeven proposition, but for the sake of gaining support for this idea, I hope it was.

Allowing meets to be free to watch will put more eyes on the sport, which in theory, should build a fan base. A larger fan base is more attractive to sponsors, which drives up the value of the athletes. And THAT is what we want.

This afternoon, we get to see another new idea being put to the test when the fourth American Track League meet airs at 2 PM Pacific on ESPN. Once again, we have another publicly available track meet to watch, thanks in large part to the efforts of Paul Doyle, who is the mastermind behind this series.

While it appears that his bank account has taken a large hit to put this on, what's been cool to see are the athletes and organizations stepping forward to help sponsor events. Is it ideal that it's the athletes, like Ben Blankenship and Tianna Bartoletta, and not corporate brands who are leading the charge to make a financial contribution? No, of course not. But what these athletes recognize is that, in order to get to a place where more brands want in, this series needs to generate momentum and gain some traction. I think the "all hands on deck" mentality is helping to achieve that.

There is an appetite for a domestic track league with structure, coverage, and exposure. Though only in its infancy, the American Track League seems like it could be the solution for the future.

Call me overzealous, but I'd like to hope that these creative initiatives by organizations like Sound Running and the American Track League are indicators of an impending renaissance for the sport. Simply put, we just need to keep trying new things to see what works.

Our sport has spun its wheels for years now. We've done the same things, over and over.

It's time to change.

One new idea at a time.

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