I'm a coach. Track is my sport. I coach long distance runners - milers and two milers. I'm part of an association of coaches. In fact, I'm a trainer of coaches in that association. My professional life is devoted to producing excellent coaches of long distance runners.

Long distance running is in decline. It is a difficult sport requiring grueling training. It does not have the glamour of sprints and is being eclipsed by sprints. Sprints are exciting. They bring immediate reward. Sprinters get lots of attention. And coaches of world class sprinters are an elite group.

Over the past several years Grandview University has dominated sprint competition. They continue to produce world class sprinters. They have also been quite successful in other track events, but their specialty is sprints. They have been so successful that coaches have flocked to Grandview to learn how to produce better sprinters.

Grandview has begun holding training conferences for coaches and has initiated a Grandview Coaches Association. Because of Grandview's success with sprinters, coaches flock to the conferences and line up to join the Association. When the head track coach goes to the Grandview Conference, he typically takes his whole staff with him. They all get the training.

Grandview is having a tremendous impact on the sport of track. There is increasing emphasis on producing good sprinters. More young people are becoming sprinters. And the sprinters are getting better. Competition is increasing and the whole sport of track is getting new attention. Several national level magazines have featured the Grandview track program and the Grandview Association.

Meanwhile long distance running is lagging. Most of the coaches who take the training at Grandview put so much emphasis on sprints and sprinters that long distance running is neglected. Long distance coaches are taking a back seat. Some new schools don't include distance running in their track program. And at the meets, the crowd is mostly gone before the mile and two-mile events.

Few people say so out loud, but it is apparent that distance running is considered out of date, not where the action is, boring, and not a worthy track event. It seems like only the old-fashioned schools are putting a lot of emphasis on long distance.

Grandview teaches coaches how to coach track. And what do they teach about distance running? Not a word.

Dlm, 10-98