Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Matt from RUNOHIO has another great letter in the Post

Popular men’s track programs help increase diversity


Your help is needed in stopping Ohio University and other universities in Ohio from dropping track and field. Track and field is the most popular sport in the world and the number two or three sport in the United States and Ohio.

The Mid-American Conference universities have created a crisis in the track and field community. In the past few years, Ball State University, Bowling Green State University, the University of Toledo, Western Michigan University and former MAC school Marshall University have dropped men’s track and field. OU plans to drop it next year.

Why is the MAC destroying the most popular sport in the world? According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, boys’ track and field has the second most schools offering the sport with 15,497 high schools sponsoring a team. It ranks third in participation with 533,985 student-athletes.

In Ohio, 728 high schools offer boys’ track and field with a total of 24,219 student-athletes. This ranks boys’ track and field third in participation, with only 49 fewer student-athletes than baseball.

Track and field is one of the most diverse athletic programs at the collegiate level. According to the Ohio Board of Regents’ 2006 Performance Report, “Ohio University is the state’s least racially diverse college.” By cutting men’s track and field, the MAC universities have eliminated opportunities for both minorities and for all male track athletes. This is despite the fact that track and field is one of the most popular sports in high school and around the world. In fact, more countries are represented in track and field than any other Olympic sport.

The Title IX Web site states that “Title IX governs the overall equity of treatment and opportunity in athletics while giving schools the flexibility to choose sports based upon student body interest, geographic influence, budget restraints and gender ratio.” In 1999, Miami University dropped its indoor men’s track and field team to comply with the gender ratio issue. However, the university kept the outdoor team because it realized the popularity and diversity that track and field offers. How can universities destroy such a popular and diverse sport?

Whether you run or you are just concerned about the destruction of this popular sport, which provides opportunities for a diverse student body, please help save track and field at OU and in the MAC. What can you do? You can contact your university president, athletic director and board of trustees.

Your tax dollars help support your university, and the elected officials in Ohio need to know about this crisis. Write your U.S. Congress and Senate members to voice your concern — and Write to Governor Ted Strickland — Write the Ohio Board of Regents —

For more information on this crisis, go to

If we work together as a community, we can help save men's track and field at OU and get the other MAC universities that dropped their programs to add men's track and field back in the near future.

Matt McGowan writes from Granville and is the editor and publisher of RUNOHIO.

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