Full-Format London Meeting: ET&F’s First Annual “Major”?

Those carefully following the recent IAAF World Championships in London would be hard-pressed not to feel that something special was going on for the ten days of this large meeting. Crowds were consistently big (apparently filling the 50,000 seat venue on a daily basis), the stadium looked great, there were many good competitive performances, and the video product (at least the NBC Gold version that did not involve the standard NBC commentators!) was clean and crisp. Others seem to agree ( link  ) .

Ignoring the excessive talk about specific people (including top-tier athletes and retired-athlete-sports-figures), and the small-sport obsession with airing the dirty laundry of PED allegations in a public square that should be basking in the sunshine of very recent success, it is clear from media reports that all sorts of people (e.g., event organizers, ticket-buying fans, and live TV viewers) feel that the London meet organizers have hit the ball out of the park in their 2017 at-bat.

As this site’s white papers have discussed (  white papers ) ,  one very valuable development for the sport of Elite Track and Field (ET&F) will be to create its own annual, or semi-annual, major events. Despite paying a paltry (i.e., non-tennis-level) amount of prize money, London 2017 has provided an example of what this sort of regular event could be. I believe that there is merit in considering how to replicate this extravaganza on an annual basis. The author has talked to some of the people who regularly develop and run such meets. I am aware of the amount of effort that is involved. Currently, such developments are multi-year efforts. Considering an annual replay of this sort of outdoor stadium event, or even twice-a-year “majors”, would be daunting. However, it is clear from London 2017 that this enterprise has real value. It seems like a good idea to try to have another at-bat, as soon as possible, rather than waiting for another game in two years, in a location that is simply unproven.

To be clear, London’s success has little to do with the nationalistic structure of the meet, including limiting fields by country.  In fact, calling it the “World Championships”, with the attendant politics of various governing bodies is most likely NOT the primary reason for success. Again, a great location, a full-event schedule, and stirring competitions involving a large fraction of the sport’s best talent are what drew everyone’s attention to Olympic Stadium. Anyway, once a “major” gains tradition, the apparent value of winning its events can grow, more or less  independent of the various governing bodies. Examples of this in other sports (including tennis and golf’s annul majors) are numerous. In this case, it would be ET&F’s “valuable major franchise” that is being grown. To this end, I suggest that the London event organizers consider a replay in 2018. Call it the “London Major”.

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