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The USATF has started another push to market track and field to the television audience. None of last year's attempted improvements seem to have worked. It turns out that sponsorship is the sticking point. In a Harris Poll survey of likely television watchers, it was found that 87% of viewers had an attention span of 43 seconds – approximately the same time as the plot line for "The Simple Life."
Starting in '06 there will be a rollout of the new packaging – time-outs in any event over 400M. "Not only is it more suitable for our viewing audience", opined Craig Masback, "but sponsors love the additional opportunities for commercial breaks." Coaches were 100% behind the rule change. Most noted the tremendous advantage of a 60-second recovery break at mid-race and felt that a new spate of world records would follow.
The CSCCS (Commission to Study the Crass Commercialization of Sports) was undecided on an amendment that would have allowed for substitutions during time-outs. Some felt that the popularity of sprint events would suffer. The fear would be that the best sprinters would defect from their own events to "pinch-run" the last 100 meters of what is sure to be world record performances.
Running purists were also up in arms, but remain a relatively powerless lobby. As one Harris Pollster noted under the promise of anonymity, "Those distance guys don't have any money anyway!"