The 100m dash is an overrated event

I mean no disrespect to the amazing athletes that make it the Olympics, but this particular event seems a bit overrated to me.

The margin of victory in the 2004 race was 1/100th of a second! Since it’s over a very short distance, who wins basically comes down to who is lucky enough to flinch the least after the starting shot goes off.

When we get to 200m and 400m sprints, then it’s more about speed than it is about fraction of a second muscular twitches.

Frankly I don’t see why such a short distance is still an event. Line up the best sprinters in the world and it mostly seems to be pure chance that one of them comes out ahead of the other over 100 meter distance. This is evidenced by the fact that not a single 100m gold medalist has managed to cross the finish line first on two succesive Olympic finals.

So, when Carl Lewis won all those 100 meter dashes in the mid- to late-1980s, he was just lucky?

If the winner was always the person who got the best start, then yeah, you might be on to something. But that isn’t always the case–speed does matter in that distance.

Since the winner of the event had the SLOWEST start of any of the competitors, that sort of defeats the OP’s claim.

I think there is definitely something cool about watching a person run at 22-23mph.

If the time was measured for each athlete from the time their rear foot leaves the starting block till the time they cross the finishing line, then it would remove the effects of reaction time from the event. I wonder if this would make any difference. Has anyone measured the difference in the time taken to begin to move between starters of an olympic quality sprint?

Here’s my question on the 100m dash:

Why does it appear that all the racers slow before crossing the finish line?
They have the camera that moves along side the racers giving you a profile view and you see how they lean forward while zipping down the track. And then after finishing they need to slow down so they slow and their body goes upright then leans back to slow themselves.
I’d think they run full bore through the finish line but I see many of them start their “slow down” process before even finishing.
Why is this???

Wasn’t so cool when that zebra kick his ass.

In an all-out sprint, the runners accelerates to peak speed (about 30mph or so), then slows down. The real race becomes who slows down the least.

Who gives a flying gnat’s arse to who wins? In the olympic games national socialists do. Same in the football world cup and other such events. As to national(as opposed to international) sporting events, I suppose it is a primitive tribalism thing - oh I don’t really know, just guessing - pardon my ignorance.
I presume there is a wimmin’s 100 metre run? Is this as great a thing to the so-called man’s one? Why the total segretation? I thought that we are living in an age of sexual-equality, where it is greatly fround upon that men and women are deemed so different that we seperate them so. Where are the howls of protest from the more extremist ‘feminists’ (that is, those who want women to behave just like the worst type of men)? They say that women should be allowed to be Infantry Soldiers after all (who are not at all the worst type of men).
Yet in all sports there is total segregation (I refuse to use the term ‘sexism’, being an evil-rotten word).
Is this post a hijack?
Nowt wrong with freedom. If someone wants to putt some tiny ball into a little hole (is golf an olympic event?), fine by be. Let 'em! And so forth.
Yet this current obsession with sport is a sickness, a stench that is so revolting that if there are intelligent inhabitants of a world many light-years from here, they must smell it (an impossibility I know - but allow some poetic license).
Oh dear! This seems like a terrible rant. Still, I don’t care. Look upon it as a man who vents his feelings (thus feeling much better) in useless electronic medium.

WoodCM, you’re not supposed to drink the bong water.

Bippy, your suggested method of timing would take away the need for a quick response. It could potentially produce an absurd outcome - if competitors were allowed to pause on the blocks as long as they wanted, the winner of the race could cross the finish line a few minutes after the rest of the competitors!

What dou you mean by ‘drinking the bong water’. Dou you infer that I am a dope fiend? I havn’t had any in ages(want some now! Don’t know where to get the stuff). Perhaps you think that it has permenantly addled my brain, but I remember being just the same before! What about the points I brought up in my post? Where is the ripost? Maybe you agree? If that is so, fair enough, no need to say anything.

WoodCM, your two posts in this thread were rude, incoherent, meandering, mean-spirited, bigoted and reactionary, crudely stated, and poorly typed. But what’s really going to get you into trouble with the moderators is your flaunting the fundamental guidelines of the Straight Dope as a message board virtual community. That sort of hostility, crudeness, etc. is only acceptable in the “Pit” forum – which you would know, had you bothered to acquaint yourself with the rules, FAQs, etc.

Thank goodness junior high school classes will be resuming shortly.

Since I’m middle-aged, I don’t think it would be a good idea to go back to junior high school, unless you think I am a teacher, which come to think of it would also be a bad idea!

Because it would be just a LITTLE unfair to, say, merge male and female weight lifters competing togheter. Having equal rights doesn´t mean having equal capabilities, all things the same a man is, on average, genetically coded to have more muscular mass than a woman, rendering them effectively handicapped on sports where brute force does make a large difference.

Don’t you think it is unfair that for the rest of human life (that is, not involved in sports), that it is deemed that males and female should be equal?
The dogma of ‘equality’ is false - nay - I say evil. Socialism and feminism are part of the same terrible vine, and have the made the world a much more awful place than it would otherwise would be.

Both are the the same thing - the worship of power, which is the true heart of evil.
I do not say that men are superior to women, or vice versa. I have read many ‘feminist’ books which argue that men are evil and inferior, whilst said books argue about ‘equality’. I am a reactionary.

as a former “track star”, i agree in principle with the proposition posed in the OP. to me, the fact that the world record 200m time (19.32 s) is faster than twice the time of the world record 100m time (9.78 s) indicates that the fastest man in the world is running in the 200m sprint. if you want an exciting race, watch the 800m. two laps at near a full sprint, and over a minute and a half of strategy and endurance make for a very exciting finish to a race that was exciting throughout.

i think the 100m caters to our short attention spans, and the fact that the fastest people are always within hundredths of a second of the world record makes it always the most likely record to be broken, which also makes for a bit of “headline” excitement in sports. this olympics, the distance between runners at the end (this was the first 100m ever where 5 people finished under 10 seconds) made for a fairly exciting race, but the excitement lasted all of 10 seconds, and as i stated before, you can’t really even call the winner the “world’s fastest man”.

Another reason why the 100 meters is so popular in the US is the simple reason that runners from the US win a lot.

Is it the most popular event in the rest of the world? Probably not. Middle distance races are usually more popular.

But in indoor track, 50 and 60 meters are contested and they are quite popular.

What’s really fun is watching the end of a 50 meter race indoors. There’s usually not enough room for the runners to slow down without having them run into a door or something. So there is usually a big padded wall at the end of the race so you get to watch all these guys run like hell and then fall over.

The reason that the 200m times are less than twice the 100 times is that you get a running start for the second half of the 200.

In 1996, there was the argument about whether Donovan Bailey or Michael Johnson was faster. Johnson’s 200m time was 19.32, which is less than twice Bailey’s time of 9.84. However, Johnson ran the first 100 of his race in 10.12, which is slower than Donovan’s 100, and he ran the second half in 9.20, which is slower than Donovan’s 4x100 relay leg of 8.99. Also Bailey’s highest speed was faster than Johnson’s.

None of that proves that one or the other is a better sprinter. Personally I think that Johnson’s time may be more impressive, as it is a huge jump ahead of the previous record. You can argue that either way, but Bailey was definitely running faster.

If it were pure chance, then why do they train so hard? And wouldn’t you then see a very random pattern of victory throughout the various track meets around the world (not just the Olympics)? Instead, a roughly stable pattern of victories occurs, where pretty much the same people end up in the top positions over and over. It’s not just about twitching off the blocks fast, it’s about pure speed too, as someone noted that the winner came from behind to take the gold. Don’t forget the tremendous importance of mental focus and preparation as well.