By Kyle Merber
March 15, 2023
What if I told you that Tyreek Hill running in a masters track meet is neither good nor bad for the sport? This isn’t the polarizing world of your parent’s YouTube algorithm – some things don’t have to operate on a binary scale. Having an NFL player enter into a nothing competition and running 6.70 for 60 meters does not move the needle at all, in either direction.
First off, let me start by saying that obviously Hill would not beat Usain Bolt or Trayvon Bromell in a race of any distance and to call them out is nothing more than a play for attention. That is not to dismiss his natural abilities. He has run 6.64, 10.19, and 20.14 – all great times for ten years ago. But Bromell ran 6.42 this season, which would essentially make Hill look like all the other guys in his heat. As a reminder, a high schooler ran 6.57 this weekend!
If he hadn’t talked up such a big game and returned to the track with some level of humility, then I think the overall sentiment of track fans would have been significantly more welcoming. When DK Metcalf ran 10.37 for 100m two years ago, he showed his respect to the eight athletes who beat him and in return received ample praise for his willingness to step in the ring. The truth is that 6.70 is a pretty solid time given the circumstances and with a few more races under his belt that it would likely improve.
But it is shocking that there are track fans who are still dim enough – or provincial enough in their thinking – to think that a one-off gimmick will ever make any impact on the sport. Our “problem” is not a lack of awareness. Everyone knows what track and field is. It’s not like Tyreek Hill’s participation has suddenly opened up the world’s eyes to a brand-new sport that they didn’t know existed. (WE ARE NOT PICKLEBALL!) And I promise you anyone who is a borderline fan of the sport has absolutely no concept of what a good 60m time is anyway.
Athletics is the oldest and most participated in sport in the country. Tyreek Hill won’t solve the retention problem. Do you know what is actually “good for the sport?” Things that make track easier and more interesting to follow. Think accessibility of watching events – that doesn’t necessarily mean free, it could be as simple as one consistent streaming platform or television channel becoming the home of track. But in absence of that, making it easy for fans or would-be fans to know where, when, and how to watch the races is a good step. From there, we just need competitive head-to-head match-ups of the stars who fans are invested in and for the athletes to buy-in to the benefit of promoting themselves.
Tyreek Hill does none of that. So who cares?
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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.