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It strikes me that whilst running is a popular passtime for the masses that it's not particularly well supported by those same people who lace up their trainers several days a week.
I propose that it would be difficult to find players for a 5-a-side footy team or Sunday league Rugby team who weren't also fans of the sport. They recognise that there is a gulf in abilities between the masses and the elites, but they are fans of the sport. I think the same could be said of recreational golfers, tennis players, etc. But I don't get the impression that many recreational runners are fans of the "sport" of running.
Is running as a sport less actively followed by those who would call themselves runners (albeit not in the same league as the pros)?
If so, is this because there aren't enough personalities or role models in the sport? I'm under the impression that in Kenya and Ethiopia that the elites are household names, so perhaps the lack of coverage or interest in the UK it a result of the relatively poor performance of our own elites. But if international success were the criteria then why football fans in the UK continue to view with interest the exploits of a team who have won only one international tournament, almost 50 years ago? By contrast British running has been hugely successful in that same period, especially in the early 80's with Cram, Ovett, Coe, Jones, etc.
Go along to a 5 aside footy match this weekend and see how many people can tell you which team is the top of the league, who the current lead scorer in the premiership is, who won the FA Cup last year, who the reigning world champions are. Compare that with recreational runners interest in their chosen activity. Stop a handful of runners, who are training for the VLM, and ask them who the world marathon record is held by, who won the Mens Marathon Olympic Gold in 2012, who won the womens 5000m or 10000m in London last year.
Running clearly does not receive the media coverage of football, but is there a causal relationship? And if so, in which direction? Is running just a less interesting sport to watch, but easy to participate in, given the low barriers to entry?
What are your thoughts?