SportsEvents Magazine

AUG 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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August 2018 42 www.sportseventsmagazine.com rack and field is one of the oldest sports around – it can be traced to the original Olympic games – and the sport doesn't seem to have slowed down since. It's always one of the most popular events in the Summer Olympics but track and field extends well beyond the Olympics. In the high school arena, it has found an extremely favorable home. According to the 2016-17 High School Athletics Participation survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations, outdoor track and field came in a strong second among the largest increase in female participants (just after competitive spirit) and with males, it also came in second, led only by soccer. Cross country came in at a strong third. In the previous year (2015-16), track and field was the fastest-growing and largest sport among high school athletes, and ranked as the No. 1 sport for females and No. 2 sport for males – with cross country as the third-fastest-growing sport for boys. "Track and field – and cross country too – are very accessible in terms of you only need a pair of shoes," said Jill Geer, USA Track & Field (USATF) chief marketing officer and spokeswoman. "It's so easy to get into, it's relatively inexpen- sive and there is an event for everybody. Literally for everybody, whether you are short or tall or fast or slow." USATF, the national governing body for track and field and cross country, has experienced a 30 percent increase in membership since 2012 and is now up to approximately 130,000 members. While some of this growth is certainly attributed to the fact that the sports are so easy to get involved in, it's also noted that track and field in particular is a foundational sport and participation in it can help with improvement in other sports, noted Geer. "If you are a football player or a basketball player or perhaps a soccer player, running track makes you faster," she said. "It can be tricky because we live in a world where most coaches want you to focus on just one sport but track and field is applicable to many other sports as well." Another factor that has perhaps aided the sports' growth is that they have devel- oped a greater presence online in today's digital world. Today, athletes have more platforms to converse with each other, share training methods and watch various events. A number of online broadcast platforms allow for live event cover- age, including USATF, which now has a webcast for its Youth Championships and Masters Championships. "The ability to interact with the sport, as well as our social media presence, enables people to engage with the sport in a way that has an impact, especially on the youth level," Geer said. "Today, you can watch athletes run in events, see how they train and even see interviews with them. It has really cultivated an increase in both participa- tion and the performances." Raleigh, N.C., has seen an increase in participation in the sports, especially t SPORT Report T NAIA Oregon Tech Senior Seth Gretz

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