The Mixed Relay Debate
Last weekend the IAAF World Relays were held in Yokohama, Japan. This was a track-only event where different groups of athletes, from men to women and mixed, participated in many different disciplines.
For those who watched, they had a ball watching "normal" relays, like the 4x100-meter and the 4x400-meter relays, as well as specialized events like the 2x2x400-meter (one man and one woman alternate running 400-meters twice) and the 4x100-meter mixed shuttle hurdles.
The World Relays aren't held every year, and it's a special treat for many. However, these relays are now bleeding into championship events, and not all of the athletes are pleased about it.
However, the response from the fans that watched were pretty positive. At least, those who thought it was cool took to social media to talk about it:
As I've often said for many years, I adore the aspect of men and women competing together. I understand completely that men and women have different bodies and compete on different levels. However, I also feel that men and women can compete together if both sides are allowed to work at their own levels.
But I also can see another argument, especially since there will be mixed relay events in athletics and swimming next year in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics: how many events is too much? Track and swimming already have a huge amount of events where athletes can compete multiple times. Why tack on something more without getting rid of something else?
The answer is easy:
FINA (the swimming federation - all of aquatics in general, actually) and the IAAF (the athletics governing body) are more than willing to subject its athletes to many more events because they are two disciplines that get a lot of high profile press and viewing numbers during the Olympics. Any chance for them to carry over those stakes during the rest of the quadrennial is paramount to their success. Why in the world would a World Relays competition even exist if not for money and viewers?
Please notice that I did not say "fans" but "viewers." The governing bodies and the IOC might point these additions out as fanservice, but it's not necessarily for fans of the sports at all. Eyes on the events bring in sponsors, who bring in money. And when Team USA is involved, the incentive is even greater:
As an adult, I have long tried to be as diplomatic about my opinions as possible. I try to view all the sides and express a valid point when I do choose. So I can understand the governing bodies' point of view, as well as the fans'.
But what do athletes think? Athlete representatives are present in every sporting event, so the greatest hope is that the best interest of the athletes are primarily taken into consideration. I'm not sure how much I can rely on the interviews of athletes that were actually participating in last weekend's World Relays, because the media can skew the broadcast any way it wants.
If I have learned anything about life in general, it's that one side will complain about change while the other side embraces it. Only time will tell if mixed relays are here to stay.
Olympic Channel Video of the Week
Anyone like hockey? No - not ice hockey. Field hockey! I did request Olympic tickets for field hockey, so I brushed up on my knowledge of the game with this video:
Tokyo 2020 Prep
With last week's ticket request, I now can start seriously looking into lodging. First up: placing all the Olympic venues onto Google Maps. Then cross check that with available hotels. Yes, capsule hotels are still on the list.
- My favorite part of last week's IAAF World Relays was the mixed 4x400-meters. It didn't matter which gender went in which order, so there were a couple of times when women were running alongside the men. I don't mind that because the parity will even out in the end.
- This weekend was the Diamond League in Shanghai, and I witnessed an upset, with American Chase Ealey beating China's Gong Lijiao, the reigning Olympic champion. It doesn't mean that Gong has lost her step; athletics is a long season and athletes are hard pressed to keep up the dominance all year.
- I am not a big fan of this year's Nike track and field uniforms. Just putting that out there.
- This weekend was also another leg of the TYR Pro Swim Series in Bloomington, Indiana. Nathan Adrian has been in treatment for testicular cancer, but came back to compete this weekend - and finished fourth in the 100-meters! I find it amazing when athletes can undergo treatment for a disease yet keep up their training enough to still compete at a high level!
- The home crowd had much to cheer for in Bloomington, with the athletes training at Indiana University really dominating many of the races. Cody Miller, Zach Apple, Blake Peroni, and Lilly King all won events in their home pool.
- Just a note: I'm hitting the final weeks of school. Next week there won't be an article because I'll be attending a graduation and wedding. Hopefully in the summer months I'll be able to watch many more sports and give you all my thoughts!
Weekly Cauldron Check