Penn Relays to maintain new schedule
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, USA:
Meet director of Penn Relays, Aaron Robison, insists that the turnout of fans over the three-day relay carnival, which ended on Saturday, was still high despite an appearance of a drop in attendance, especially on Friday's second day, which was cold and rainy.
Robison noted that the changes made to the schedule were good.
"Friday was amazing despite the weather. The crowd was strong as over 30,000 fans were in attendance, despite the very cold conditions, which affected the turnout a bit. The energy amongst the fans was great as they were very excited as the athletes were amazing," Robison said.
Robison, in his second year as meet director, shifted the days that high schoolboys and girls competed. This year, boys participated on Thursday and Friday instead of the usual Friday and Saturday, with the girls competing on Friday and Saturday instead of Thursday and Friday.
The participating days for boys and girls will alternate yearly, which Robison argued will allow the girls, who have had outstanding performances over the years, to showcase their talents to a final-day crowd on a Saturday, which usually has the largest attendance at the carnival.
The decision was unpopular among some local coaches and fans, who believed that Jamaican boys' teams have the biggest supporting cast, which would dwindle the attendance over the three days.
"In any sporting competition, bad weather will have a negative turnout of fans as this is also evident at the NFL and other sporting competitions in the USA. It was not the change in the schedule that affected the turnout somewhat, but the weather as the diehards and core fans will always turn out to give their support," Robison opined.
"People never usually like to see changes, and what we have done, we will continue in the future as the females need the Saturday crowd exposure, as over the years, they have had great performances. The fans need to see them, as I am pretty certain there are more Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson around, and these fans want the chance to see them early.
"The plan with the schedule in place, by a form of rotation between the sexes, will continue. Next year, the females will compete on a Thursday and a Friday and the males on a Friday and Saturday and the following year that will reverse," said Robison.