The American Track League made its debut on Friday, May 2. While the league is still in its infancy stage, it is a trendsetter in how to modernize and “shake up” a track and field meet so that it is more entertaining and engaging for the fans. Furthermore, the league is the first professional track and field league that the athletes themselves have a substantial stake in. In the video above, Lashinda Demus, Lolo Jones, Trell Kimmons, DeeDee Trotter and Morgan Uceny field questions from the press and talk about the importance of the league and the need to grow our sport and our fanbase in the United States.
Below are some of the highlights of the press conference:
“We believe that having something close to home is really important to us. We love our fan base overseas, but to have something at home and to bring a league in where we can have a platform to stand on, I think this is a great opportunity to bring a lot of visibility to our sport here in the States, and to let people be a part of that and come support us.”
– DeeDee Trotter
“Americans don’t have the chance to come see these athletes in person, so this is a great opportunity for that. And I think there’s been a boom in recreational runners. I live in Boston now and with the Boston Marathon just happening, it was phenomenal, and I think these kind of meets will help bridge that gap between the recreational runner and the pro athlete.”
– Morgan Uceny
“I think a lot of people don’t look at track and field as a professional sport. So I think we need to let everyone know that we are professional sport, we make money doing this, and we are professional people.”
– Lashinda Demus
“I’m just tired of the US fans saying ‘when can I see you run,’ and have to say, ‘every four years at the Olympics on tv.’ I was more excited to come here [to Bloomington] than to travel to Europe, it’s beautiful. I look at it as an expansion of the sport.”
– Lolo Jones
“As much as we are individuals, in order to make the American Track League work we have to come together unselfishly to make this platform sustainable for the future. We all do different events but if we all come together and build this, that’s what’s going to make it successful. For us to say, ‘We’re going to come together to do something bigger than our individual contracts.’
We’ve been accustomed to running in the same places over the years. It’s hard to break your routine. But we do want to have more races here in the States. Maybe I could have gotten paid more to run there or this or that, but ultimately the bigger picture is for us to have this strong foundation of what this league is supposed to stand for. It’s worth the sacrifice to me. It’s well worth it.”
– Dee Dee Trotter
“If we can get people to come out and actually see what we do, and on the other end we have to perform well – then this will work.”
– Lashinda Demus
“A lot of the events are run differently. So in the field attempts, there will be three total attempts (from the field) at a height and then move on. That’s unheard of in track and field! Normally there are three attempts per person. It’s going to make field events go a lot faster.
Another thing is the men’s 100m. It’s so cool. The #1 question track athletes get asked is ‘What’s your 40 time?’ So what Paul has done is, it’s open to the public to run a 40 against the pro’s, and if you beat a pro, you get a lane in the 100m! That is unheard of! It blows my mind.
That’s the key. It isn’t a typical track meet. I think we’ll get a lot of fans that don’t like the pattern of track and field and how it has been. And I really encourage people to come out and see something cool.”
– Lolo Jones
“I’ve never ran a 40 time. But I think it’s a cool idea, and I know I have a fast 60. So I’m gonna prove to the world tomorrow that Chris Johnson is not fast in the 40 (laughs)!”
– Trell Kimmons