The Super Bowl…It may be America’s greatest tradition. We all get together with friends and family, stuff our faces with chicken wings and Bud Lights, gamble, laugh at commercials and enjoy watching the sport WE invented. What could possibly be better?
As a runner, I often wondered if that same tradition could ever be passed onto running. Would there ever be a day in which friends gathered together, huddled around a TV & screamed and yelled for a running race?
At first, I would say “No Way”. Running has the unique distinction of being basically un-watchable. Most of us could watch 9 hours of football on a Sunday and not have the slightest inkling to want to go out and tackle someone (thankfully). Similarly, we could watch all 7 games of the World Series without feeling the slightest urge to go out and play catch.
However, on the rare occasion that a running event is broadcasted on TV, I (like most runners) watch about 5 minutes and than feel the need to go out and get some miles in myself. Running truly is a doing activity, not a watching activity. The uniqueness of running is that, even a hardcore running enthusiast would rather run than watch running. I could argue that the only other sports that are equally un-watchable (forcing you to want to play them instead) are skiing and soccer. For everything else, we love to watch. It’s both a blessing and course for the sport of running as a whole.
Even as running continues to grow in popularity throughout the US, its unlikely that it will ever be a big ratings grabber. There is, however, one exception in which we flock to our couches to watch a can’t-miss race on TV…The Olympics. Yes the exception to the rule is the Olympics. There is something so iconic, so special about the Olympics. The way runners are portrayed (from sprinters to marathoners), with there deep back stories and tales of perseverance that sets the Olympics apart. The broadcast of the Olympics forces us to fall in love with certain athletes and cheer passionately for them. The presentation of the Olympic games is the ultimate in running a spectator sport and the only way running becomes the NFL is if we can duplicate the Olympic passion and the Olympic spirit…which is next to impossible to do.
The problem is that they only happen every 4 years. So in the meantime, its Touchdowns and Nachos until the 2016 games this summer in Brazil.