This week, despite frigid temperatures, the high school track and field season began here in northeastern Pennsylvania. Athletes have been practicing for about three weeks, but snowy and icy conditions forced most teams indoors, so when the first meets were contested on Tuesday, they were little more than intense workouts, means of allowing coaches to gauge their talent pool.
Track and field ranks as the world's oldest sport. The ancient Greeks held games at the base of Mount Olympus as a means of honoring the gods they believed resided there. Sprint races, javelin and discus throwing were some of the events we contest in our track and field meets, some 2700 years later.
From lithe distance runners to burly shot put hurlers, a track meet is like a three-ring circus, featuring sprints, hurdles, horizontal and vertical jumps, distance races, and throwing events.
And unlike many other sports, there's no subjective evaluation in track and field. No one can argue that, "He's a better hitter," or "She's a better 3-point shooter." If you run faster, jump higher, or throw farther, you are, statistically, the best.
Track and field athletes work very hard to perfect their crafts, but since it is not a "money generating" sport, it is often ignored or poorly funded. With the exception of the University of Oregon, few stadiums are filled for track meets.
This spring, make it a point to attend a track and field meet. Support the young men and women who do what you do. Encourage the distance runners to train year-round.
They may be high school students, but they are the future of our sport, of which there is no retirement age.