Well aware that their sport lacked the necessary excitement to attract the casual fan, track and field officials across the globe have added a new aspect to their failing sport: hand-to-hand combat.
(A bruised and bloodied Alicia Follmar (Stanford) strikes her opponent.)
Though some purists may decry the brutality of these “track battles,” spectators could not be happier. Alabama native Jim Bob Johnson said, “I used ta ain’t care nuttin’ bout track, but ya get dem ladies hittin’ each other and I like it!”
With the success of mixed martial arts as a template, track officials have begun instituting basic guidelines for runners to follow. Among them are these basic tenets:
- No eye-gouging.
- Attacks must be contained to a runner’s lane and the two lanes adjacent to each runner.
- A runner may not stop to stomp and/or spike a fallen runner. However, it is not necessary to avoid a fallen runner as brief attacks are allowed.
- No use of javelins in any sanctioned track battles.
Some say that these track battles have tainted the sport forever, but as the world changes, athletics must do what they can to stay relevant. After all, the marathon is named after a historic battle.