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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.