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World Athletics has undergone a number of changes over recent years including renaming the organization, re-branding with a new logo format and encouraging more creative World Cross Country Championship meetings. Now, World Athletics has introduced the concept of the 200-metre track to be used indoors as well as outdoors. Part of that will be renaming “indoors” to “short track.”

“The World Athletics Council is supporting the concept of short track competition to allow more flexibility in the setting of 200m tracks, which may, in the future, be constructed outdoors or in temporary city locations, rather than in a traditional indoor arena. Performances set on outdoor or temporary 200m tracks could therefore be recognized as official results for the purpose of records and rankings,” the website reads.

In 2019, Aarhus, Denmark hosted the next generation of World Cross Country Championships, which featured repeated runs over the top of a museum, as well as a festival-like experience. It’s been 22 years since the International Association of Athletics Federations changed its name to World Athletics, to better match the national sports organizations, like British Athletics or Athletics Australia or Athletics Canada. Also, it’s less to chew on. No one referred to the association by its name, “but I-double-A-F.” World Athletics as a brand is better. The newer logo is questionable, but certainly recognizable and is incorporated in various championship events that take place across the globe.

The Diamond League — the premiere outdoor track series in the world — altered the length of its meets and events to make the meets more digestible.

It was slow coming. The National Hockey League thirty years prior, shortened their games to approximately 2:45:00. Traditional rugby, as in Rugby Union, was introduced to the fast and exciting Rugby 7s. Cricket did the same thing with their multi-day sport, with Twenty20. All are popular decisions.

Rugby 7s was first created in 1883 and was proven popular in pockets around Great Britain, especially Scotland. But it wasn’t until 1999 – 2000 that the men’s World Rugby 7s tournament was introduced and 12 years later for the women. The sport was added to the Olympic program for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It’s all the rage now.

Cricket had a similar transformation but not until 2003, when the first official Twenty20 tournament took place. The Twenty20 leagues began to pop up four years later. Both sports incorporate the length of play into their name, so the spectators know what to expect for time investment. Rugby 7s offers two seven-minute halves. Multiple games of intense play can take place in one event.

For Twenty20, the primary feature is that each team bats for a maximum of 20 overs (120 legal balls). The batting team members do not arrive from and depart to traditional dressing rooms, but come and go from a bench visible in the playing area. This is similar to football (soccer) or baseball dugout. It is debatable if the winning team makes tea for the losers.

These changes have proven to be a boon and perhaps save the respective sports. The NHL continues to bring in more broadcast and streaming views than ever. Twenty20 and Rugby 7s outstrip the traditional versions, especially in markets where adoption was slow. Most importantly, the sustainability of these sports hinges on the valueable digital platforms for viewing, attracting advertisers and pay per view formats for one-time views or monthly subscriptions.

Athletics, which currently sustains only a core of dedicated fans, needs growth; needs to be more digestible. Short meets that are streamable, where focus is directed on personalities and making the smaller 200m “indoor” tracks more common will help. For their current use of going outside, may prove to be at least a minor boon — why not?

Credit should go to World Athletics for at least attempting to make adjustments to what is arguably the world’s oldest sport. Track length and presentation are two things that the organisation can control.