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ODE ON A GRECIAN URGE
January 19, 1970
If the Olympics are a paean to our ancient Greek heritage, indoor track is a salute to central heating. Thus saith Arnold Roth, whose paintings (and captions) appear on this and the following pages. And, as Roth's work bears witness, indoor track ain't what it used to be. Once merely a regional idiosyncrasy, it is now a national affliction. As Roth says, there's hardly an arena in the land these winter nights which isn't the site of a spectacle that would have shattered many an ancient Greek, even though one might say that indoor track is an ode on a Grecian urge.
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January 19, 1970

Ode On A Grecian Urge

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If the Olympics are a paean to our ancient Greek heritage, indoor track is a salute to central heating. Thus saith Arnold Roth, whose paintings (and captions) appear on this and the following pages. And, as Roth's work bears witness, indoor track ain't what it used to be. Once merely a regional idiosyncrasy, it is now a national affliction. As Roth says, there's hardly an arena in the land these winter nights which isn't the site of a spectacle that would have shattered many an ancient Greek, even though one might say that indoor track is an ode on a Grecian urge.

Competitors are cheered for on the basis of school of origin (above right). If one's own alma mater is not represented at the meet, cheers are based on region of origin. If one's own region is not represented one can make do with cheering one's self up by going out for a drink.

Awards are presented by a local beauty queen and some not-so-hot-looking former greats (right), while the losers are led away by their coaches. Emotion is strong in everyone's heart except the winners'. They are too busy gasping for breath to evince anything but collapse.

The newest indoor tracks are made of composition materials. This is unfortunate, since it may well destroy the romance—and the crippling effects—of the traditional board track.

Indoor track is precisely like outdoor track insofar as half the people involved are busily measuring times, heights, distances, etc., while the other half are just as busily attempting to invalidate every measurement that is made. Indoor track and outdoor track differ in that indoor is not so much an athletic contest as it is an exhibition of logistic ingenuity and organized confusion. Nowhere else do so many do so much for so few in so little space.

Track is basically an outdoor, fair-weather sport. True fans agree to that but they stilt flock for the excitement that 83 laps to the quarter mile alone can produce.

Because of overprogramming, distance races often run late. The athletes have been on the track long enough to claim squatters' rights. The officials have grown old. But the arena moves with the times and prepares for the hockey game scheduled for the night after the track meet by someone who, obviously, doesn't know much about track meets.

Most enclosed arenas were not designed with track in mind. Athletes are philosophical about it as they realize their events were not designed with enclosed arenas in mind.

In the new enclosed mammoth stadiums such as the Astrodome the meet seems like an outdoor event that is happening in the wrong place.... As athletes and officials rely on their innate insensitivity and natural ability to adapt, the show goes on just as though everything is crystal clear and one goal is uppermost—setting new records of some kind.

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