Sports Zone

Not ‘just a track meet’ at Hayward

Track and Field officials working at Hayward Field often share a saying when things get hectic, “It’s just a track meet.” It’s a settling reminder that keeps us focused when the pressure mounts, television producers breathe fire down our necks, or something goes differently than planned and meet directors start blowing steam out of their ears. There are hundreds of integrated moving parts at a track meet, but all are focused on a simple goal of helping athletes run, jump, and throw the best they can. World Athletics is the sole competent international authority for the sport of Athletics worldwide and is recognized as such by the International Olympic Committee. The joy of sports that most humans feel when they play can get distorted when professionalism and organization overtake the simplicity. I don’t fully agree that money ruins everything, but it certainly changes things and things are a little more involved for the organization behind Oregon22: World Athletics. To be fair, bringing thousands of people from all over the globe to a small community in Oregon is not a simple task. It takes a lot of organization. World Athletics was founded in 1912 to regulate, organize, promote, and profit from the sport of Athletics (known in the U.S. as Track and Field). World Athletics headquarters is located (and only permitted by its constitution to exist) in the Principality of Monaco, a sovereign city state on the French Riviera that is widely recognized as one of the most expensive and wealthiest places in the world. World Athletics has a constitution of 24,451 words. It’s an impressive document, filled with words like, Establishment, Rights, Intervention, Suspension, Expulsion, Powers, Congress, Quorum, Convention, Duties, Terms, Integrity, Tribunal, and Compliance. You’re not likely to cozy up to read it on a cold winter night. To get some perspective, The United Nations Charter, born of a desire to end the scourge and suffering of warfare amongst nations, is only 14,297 words. The United States Constitution has only 4,543! Which leads one to consider how much more demanding civics classes across America might have been had George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams been fond of pole-vaulting or running the high hurdles. I suspect that when you’re drinking wine in Monaco there is a lot of free time to ponder things. Everyone will bring their A-Game! Once the hyperbolic dust of promotion subsides, Oregon 22 will settle into being a track and fi eld meet stretched out over ten days and seventeen separate sessions with thousands of competitors from over two-hundred countries! (Including Finland, whose national team is staying in Creswell for the championships and will be featured in future articles in The Chronicle.) Only winning gold at an Olympics rivals the accomplishment of becoming a WORLD CHAMPION. There will be an abundance of great athletes competing, including superstar distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, the fastest marathoner in history, and other standing world record holders 400 meter hurdler Sydney McLaughlin; pole vaulter Mondo DuPlantis, and Oregon’s own, shot putter Ryan Crouser. Entire training regimes have been fixated on peaking for this meet. When the races, jumps, and throws are done, there will be nothing left in any competitor’s tank. If you like competition, this meet is for you. Everyone is bringing their A-Game! All World Athletic Games participants must qualify to compete at this meet by achieving a time, height, or distance in the recent past. Starting fields will be large but get reduced to finalists with a series of preliminary rounds and races. That’s how things stretch out over ten days instead of the typical two or three in which a track and fi eld meet is conducted. The best performers advance to a final. At its best, the meet builds like the NCAA basketball tournament. Of course, Oregon22 is as much a spectacle as it is a sporting event. Various community organizations and entities have been building for this event for years and they are counting on it having abundant energy and celebrities to provide an economic booster shot. Think Country Fair times 10! The Riverfront Park Festival is inaugurating Eugene’s newest urban renewal project and will give the community an opportunity to take in the games’ atmosphere even if they don’t purchase (expensive) tickets to the actual competition. The length of the games is part of what creates the community of athletes, fans, and staff that form a World Games identity. Friendships among participants and visitors will form and be strengthened in these few weeks, even if inside Hayward Field, “it’s just a track meet!”



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