Last week the Diamond League issued a ruling to cut the discus, triple jump and 200 meters from their competition platform. This was supposedly an effort to decrease the length of time it takes to finish the competition, to ensure the track and field meets are more “appropriate” for TV time slots and to make scheduling a bit easier.
From a total outsider perspective, cutting the 200m makes sense to me because there is already a 100m sprint and a 400m sprint. The 200m is slightly redundant as an event and from a business perspective, it makes SOME sense to cut. The triple jump actually baffles me a bit. The triple is usually entertaining for spectators, the competitors do a good job entertaining the crowd while putting forth excellent performances. It is also a great event to watch while slower events may be happening on the track.
The discus is another event that is somewhat baffling. The international symbol for most field events is the discobolus, an iconic statue from ancient Greece where a figure is carrying a discus. Perhaps it has been cut because it is a “long” throw and can take a bit longer to complete as an event. However, people love seeing a discus fly 65-70 meters in the air, they love seeing large individuals move at blazing speeds while bringing tremendous energy and intensity. On top of that, discus for men AND women is very competitive which furthers the entertainment quality. Cutting this from the Diamond League is odd, but let’s dive further into some more potential reasons.
Why did this happen?
We need to remember a few key principles here. The Diamond League is a business. As far as I can tell, the Diamond League is a poorly run business that is controlled directly by the IAAF. They care about one thing and one thing only, a financial profit (or more likely, a way to line the pockets of the investors). My assumption is that in years past, the Diamond League has struggled with revenue, leading to the displeasure of the investors/bankers behind the project. It is VERY likely that the “cutting” of these events was forced upon the organizers by the very individuals who bankroll the entire League. By cutting the discus, it may make it easier to coordinate the remaining field events while not having to worry about any potential safety issues surrounding a longer throw.
As a former thrower and coach of numerous discus throwers, it is difficult for me to remove my emotional frustration from the situation. However, as a business owner it MIGHT make sense to remove the event. I don’t know all of the work that goes hosting discus during a shortened competition platform but I assume it can have its own logistic issues. By removing the discus, more energy can potentially be placed elsewhere toward events that can be done in a more intimate setting (pole vault, long jump, shot put). Do I agree with the cutting? No. Do I understand it? To a point, yes.
What does it mean for the sport, long term?
Throwers are doom and gloom individuals. When something like this happens, a lot of us have this knee-jerk reaction:
“The discus world is collapsing.”
“There is a conspiracy in track to get the throws out of the sport entirely!”
“It’s all the distance runners fault!”
“Our sport is DOOMED!”
A lot of us crazy throwers had these thoughts ripping through our minds. However, I have a slightly different approach to the scenario. I definitely believe that the cutting of discus from the Diamond League may have an immediate negative impact on discus throwing throughout Europe. However, in the United States, we RARELY have an American even throwing the discus in the Diamond League. Does it suck that this year could have been the year when there could have been two Americans throwing at the Diamond League competitions in Sam Mattis and Mason Finley? For sure. Does it mean that the sport as we know it, is ruined? No.
We need to remember a few BIG keys behind the discus world and throwing in general. Social Media is a powerful tool. Since I started my first YouTube channel in 2006, the throwing world has grown considerably. With the creation of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the further development of YouTube, I believe there are WAY more people being exposed to the sport than ever before. Most high school throwers that are diving into the sport because of social media, don’t even know what the Diamond League is! The key behind the growth of our sport does not lie in the hands of a corporate entity but instead it lies in the hands of throwers contributing socially to the sport while providing value to young athletes that want to push themselves mentally and physically in the circle.
A final note on this subject. I do believe that the Athletics/Track and Field National Governing Bodies (USATF for example) need to start supporting their athletes quite a bit more. As the sport grows and more individuals join NGB’s like USATF, that funding needs to start getting into the hands of the athletes and less into the pockets of the authorities controlling the finances and passing it off to their cronies instead!
What can throwers do today, to help with these issues!?!?!
I believe the biggest solution is staring right back at us in the mirror...the solution lies with all throwers! I want to preface this part of the blog by recognizing that I am very biased. I own one throwing based business (Throws University) and I own a supplement company (Earth Fed Muscle) that in the past has invested considerably in throwers. Before I dive further, I want to reiterate that WE, the throwers, are the answer to the problem. We are cheap, we are frugal, we complain about buying chalk, about buying shoes, about buying a shot, about everything that goes along with our sport. If we want our sport to grow, we NEED to support the companies/entities that support throwers!
I want to use freestyle wrestling as an example before I dive further into the specifics behind supporting throws based companies. In freestyle wrestling, Asics is the big shoe player, Rudi’s and Takedown Team apparel are two apparel companies that have grown over the years within the niche sport. If you happened to ever go to USA wrestling event or even high school wrestling tournament, everyone is wearing Asics gear. Everyone is wearing the latest Kyle Snyder Rudi’s gear. Heck, everyone is wearing Rudi’s gear in general! The wrestling world has embraced these companies because they see it as a way to support the growth of the sport. They know these are “for-profit” companies but they also know that many wrestlers are benefiting from the apparel and gear being offered. The wrestlers embrace the brands on social media and the community supports the wrestlers and the brands.
So what does this have to do with throwing and the Diamond League vs. Discus? EVERYTHING!
Again, this is a very biased scenario BUT, at Earth Fed Muscle we have attempted to work directly with nearly a dozen throwers over the last 5 years. This has been a struggle between myself and my co-owner, because there has been a significant lack of support from the throws world (but I want to keep supporting the growth of the sport so I usually win, lol). During that time, we have established discount codes for the throwers. We have supplied throwers with supplements to assist with their recovery while EFM could use their likeness for media growth. During this time, we have seen virtually ZERO support from the throws community. Over the years, the only thrower that has filtered support from the throws community has been Maggie Ewen. Maggie’s code has been used more than every other thrower combined.
So what’s my point? I am sure everyone is sitting there saying, “Dane is crying and just wants people to buy his protein.” NO! My point is that as a community, throwers need to band together and start supporting brands and companies that support other throwers.
Take Velaasa for example. They have supplied plenty of post-collegiate athletes with gear, shoes and implements, yet I still hear throwers complaining that their prices are too high and they will shop elsewhere. These are the same throwers who will whine and complain that no one wants to sponsor throwers and the Diamond League needs to keep discus in the competition schedule!
This issue does not fall just on the general community, either, I believe this falls on the elite/post-collegiate athletes as well! In other NICHE sports like wrestling, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, etc, we see incredible social media engagement, very creative content being put out by some of the best athletes in their respective sport, conversing with their followers and potentially providing inspiration for the long term development of their sport.
As throwers, we need to take note! We are freaks, we are crazy, we are creative...BUT, we are also very insecure. As a community, if we would put ourselves out there with crazy strength feats, monster celebrations and larger than life personalities, we will reach into the “mainstream” population and continue to grow the sport for the better. Athletes and coaches alike need to approach development from an entertainment perspective to spark some serious growth in the culture!
If the best throwers put out cool training content and companies that support throwers are in turn, supported by the throwing world, we will see continued and sustainable growth throughout the throwing community. Until that happens, negative actions like the cutting of discus from the Diamond League will continue and as a sport, we will continue to struggle and embrace the spectators that are BEGGING for some unique entertainment from big, burly, freaks!