The first world outdoor track championships held in the United States were by all accounts a smashing success for the home team. Led by the blazing performances of hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, U.S. athletes swamped the rest of the world, winning 33 medals (an all-time record) and 13 golds (one short of the mark).
So why was there such angst among the track community as the 10-day celebration of their sport wrapped up Sunday?
Evidently not enough people were celebrating.
Crowds seemed small in Eugene’s Hayward Field, remodeled yet undersized in comparison to venues where the world championships are normally held. Total attendance, as SCNG’s Scott M. Reid noted, was the lowest in the event’s history as a result, and more to the point, those who showed up were the true believers rather than the casual fans organizers hoped to attract.
And the American TV audience, or so the theory went, was confused over which of the NBC family of networks was airing the action on a given day. This event will apparently set a record for U.S. viewership, 13.7 million American viewers through the first seven days of the 10-day event. But baseball topped that on just two nights last week, and that included an all-time low, at a little more than 7.6 million, for the All-Star Game itself.
Thus, the angst.
“We need to be in this market,” Sebastian Coe, the famed British middle-distance runner who is now president…