Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NCAA Proposal: America Rejects the Metric System

NCAA is proposing some amendments to the 2007 Rules Book that would reject the metric system in favor of the imperial system of measurement during collegiate track meets. to summarize the proposals, the 1500m Run would revert to the gold ol' Mile Run, and the field events would all have to be measured, displayed and announced as imperial units. Measuring in metric units would still be allowed for ratification of possible NCAA, American and/or world records. Why? Apparently Americans have rejected the metric system. I for one, never tried to embrace it in the first place. (Just give me a good old quarter-mile track to run on so I can run a few 220's!)

The rabid proponents of metrication (metricationists?) on the activist website Go Metric are appalled at such backwards thinking. The track and field fanatics over at the T&F News message boards are engaged in a furious debate. The purists are considering a boycott of NCAA meets while the pragmatists (including E. Garry Hill, Editor of T&F News) see the wisdom of trying to resuscitate a sport that seems to be dying a slow death as a spectator sport in this country.

Here is the text from the NCAA proposals:

Item 12 – Amend Rules 4.4.4 and 10.3 as follows: Replace all occurrences of the 1500 Meters with the Mile Run.

Rationale: The mile run is an event that we, in the United States, understand. The general public understands the four minute barrier. They understand the quality of that performance and have over time used four minutes as a bench-mark performance. The general public has not and will never be able to make the correlation between the 1,500 meters and the mile run.

This is an event that allows us to promote our track meets. Once again, the general public has NO understanding of how fast many young men are running and the competitiveness of the event. There is ready-made history for this event, much like the 100-yard dash, that we should tap into as we try to attract more fans. It will also allow for the general public to understand how fast our women are running.

Item 20 – Replace Rule 6.1.16b through 16.1.16d as follows:
b. Imperial is the preferred system of measurement. Distances will be recorded to the nearest lesser quarter-inch.
c. Metric will not be displayed or announced at meets.
d. World records, American records and NCAA records will be recorded in metric and imperial. However, the imperial measurement must be displayed and announced instead of or in addition to metric.

Rationale: Metric has hampered the opportunity to properly communicate the sport of track and field to the media, spectators, parents and athletes. America has rejected the metric system. Metric may be a better, more specific way to measure, but it is not understood by most Americans. It does not work to indicate both forms of measurements. Metric is still being shown exclusively at meets on indicator boards, video boards, announced in papers without imperial interpretation. This has alienated the sport from American mainstream. A person trying to watch, understand or follow this sport should not require an interpreter or translation dictionary.

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