By Kyle Merber
April 19, 2023
It has been two years since Marcell Jacobs and Fred Kerley last faced off, in the Olympic 100m final. We remember how that went. But things have changed since then. Jacobs has battled injuries and only managed to post one race result under 10 seconds. Meanwhile, Fred has transformed himself into a World Champion with a faster personal best than the reigning Olympic champ.
A few weeks back, Fred was a guest on Anson Henry’s podcast and laughed at a question about Jacobs’ European meet that he lost. He followed it up with the suggestion that he is not a real dog.
Jacobs responded on his Instagram that “Lions do not turn around when they hear small dogs bark.” Fred appropriately shared a picture of a lion roaring.
Jacobs then posted himself out leaning Fred for the gold with the caption, “Whenever you want and wherever you want, but remember that when it mattered more it ended like this.”
Fred kept the volley going: “Keep that same energy because ducking is not what I do.” And followed it with a tweet at the Diamond League, “Make it happen I want 1v1 no one else just him. Him alone.”
That’s a tremendous amount of pressure on the World Athletics social media team! It probably was too tall a task to organize a track meet with a six-figure payday that quickly. But they made a graphic!
I love the shit talk. We need more rivalries in this sport and I hope these two genuinely don’t like each other and this isn’t Vince McMahon pulling strings backstage. As much as I hate to be a contrarian right now, this isn’t the match-up the sport needs most. That’s partially because Jacobs hasn’t shown that he is back to championship form yet.
But more so, the sizzling core of this beef is that dogs show up when it matters. There is only one way to settle that, and it’s at a global championship, not an exhibition. Now look, I know this kind of goes against what I was arguing last week about how we need to lean into the regular season more. And although I stand by that, there’s still a hierarchy!
For non-championship meets, I prefer the head-to-head battle between two guys who would not normally race, meeting in an off-event. The novelty not only makes it special, but it allows us to temporarily suspend our obsession with time and focus on the win. Hypothetically, if Fred beat Jacobs over 100m but they just hardly dip below 10 seconds, then the conversation turns to how Trayvon, Marvin, or Seville would have won had they been there. Now, a match-up between Grant Holloway and Karsten Warholm in the 200m hurdles has my attention!
Logistically, this isn’t going to happen at a Diamond League meet – they’re too set in their ways. But don’t worry. I have the solution.
Last Wednesday afternoon there were over 12,000 people watching live as Big Cat of Barstool Sports attempted an all-out mile. (Not important: he ran five laps of a 300m track in 7:24.) It is relatively rare for internet-streamed meets to have that many concurrent viewers. Back in 2021, during the Trials of Miles meet in Austin, CITIUS peaked at 11,500.
The Barstool channel that hosted this “mile” only has 115K subscribers. Now imagine if Nick Symmonds hosted an actual track meet for his audience of 1.23M subscribers who have some vague interest or at least general awareness of track and field. The key is that Symmonds is the commentator or host of the event – after all, it’s his channel.
Nick has posted dozens of quirky race videos already, which receive millions of views each. Do you know how easily he could pivot to hosting and funding a series of head-to-head competitions with top-track athletes? Between YouTube revenue and a few sponsors, the costs are covered easily. And if we are lucky, then maybe we’ll get to see how long Karsten can hang from a pull-up bar.
The Lap Count is a weekly newsletter delivered on Wednesday mornings that recap all the fun action from the world of track & field. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the sport. There is a lot happening and this newsletter is a great way to stay up to date with all the fun. Subscribe today.
After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.