Athletics must learn lessons from Formula One and get on track with new audience | Sean Ingle

Events such as the raucous Night of the 10,000m PBs show there is an appetite for live athletics – but more can be done

At the start of another sporting weekend dominated by football Maro Itoje gave an interview which sounded like a cri de coeur. Rugby, the England flanker warned, needed to do more to grow its game, to market itself better against more media‑savvy sports and to engage with those outside its “stereotypical” world. “Rugby is very good at speaking to its own market, at preaching to the choir,” he told the Mirror. “There’s an awful lot of room for improvement. There’s no way you can tell me Formula One is more exciting than rugby. Yet it’s definitely packaged better.”

But rugby is far from the only sport caught between a hardcore fanbase and potential new audiences, the comfortable and the uncertain, unsure whether to stick or twist. Athletics and racing are, too. Meanwhile they and others cast envious eyes at F1, which has catapulted itself into the lucrative US market and elsewhere in the blink of an eye.

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