Why does U.S. olympic coverage still report lengths in FEET?

The Olympics are currently done entirely in the Metric system, and have been for God knows how long now. Yet, when I watch coverage of the track-and-field events, they’re still giving lengths and heights in feet and inches. Like:[ul][li]“She just long-jumped 26 feet 6-and-3/4 inches”[/li][li]“He has to pole-vault at least 17 feet 8-and-a-quarter inches or he won’t make the finals”[/li][li]“His last javelin throw was only 253 feet 7-and-a-half inches”[/ul]Come on! The longjump pit isn’t even marked in feet and inches any more! And the folks at home are sitting there scratching their heads wondering why the high-jump bar is raised 3/4 of an inch at a time, when it would all make perfect sense if they merely reported that the heights were really in centimeters and the bar was really raised in 2-cm increments. It’s not like your average American is unaware that a meter is a little longer than a yard, nor is it the case that your average American vividly remembers how many feet and inches the previous triple-jump record was and thus needs to know feet-and-inches to compare.[/li]
If you asked me, this is just another Mars Climate Orbiter waiting to happen.

Ours has gone the other way - even the marathon was done in kilometres throughout, which is fine for the younger end of the population, but sure as hell will have confused my parents :wink:

Bah! The Metric System…it’ll never catch on. :smiley:

NBC reports in feet and inches because that is what 99% of Americans think in.

I would rather have my distances reported in cubits, ells and furlongs.

They’re inconsistent about it, though. NBC calls the track-and-field races the “100 meter,”, the “4-by-400 meter relay,” the “5000 meter,” etc., and the swimming races the “50 meter freestyle,” the “4-by-100 medley,” etc…

Call me crazy, but I figure that if there’s a great big easily-visible guide along the side of the longjump pit that’s marked in huge, easy-to-read meters, that it would make sense to report the longjump distances in those same meters. Same with the javelin throw, where the lines on the ground are at 80 meters, 85 meters, and 90 meters.

What – no rods and leagues?

(In Tolkien’s The Two Towers, there’s a passage where Frodo and Sam are measuring the elvish rope in ells. I had no idea what an “ell” was when I read this, and looking it up only confused me more because there are Dutch Ells that are 42 inches long and Scotch Ells that are 27 inches long, and for all I know they probably use Hobbit Ells in Middle Earth.)

Because 85 meters might as well be 53 hrassflegs or 12 yodelpings to me. If you say it’s umptyump feet, I say “Wow, that’s a long way.”

I know that old-timey measurements weren’t exactly known for strict standardization, but I find it funny that two different ells are THAT different from each other. You have one that is over 50% larger than the other!

The races are referred to by their metric lengths because those numbers are easy enough to comprehend and they’ve been used for a lonnnnngg time (snice 1896 in the Olympics). Even many of the events in the 1904 Olympics were contested in meters. Some were in yards, but the 1904 Olympics were a bit of a joke anyway.

But for years in field events in the US, the competitors attempts have always been recorded here in feet. Since that’s our frame of reference here in the US, we just keep using it.

However since 1972, the US Track and Field federation has used metric measurements for all of its records.

Consider it very early technobabble…

Quoth silenus:

Incorrect. You’re presupposing that 99% of Americans think at all, which, from some of the things I’ve seen, doesn’t seem to be the case. The most common argument used against going metric is that most folks don’t know the metric units, but the fact is, most folks don’t know the American units either. I’ve met people who think that ounces are bigger than cups, fercryingoutloud. I’ll bet you that less than half of the country knows how many feet or yards there are in a mile, and less than a quarter knows how many square feet are in an acre. Ask someone to convert cubic feet (or inches) into gallons, and I’ll bet nobody will be able to do it without searching up tables and using a calculator (for those who don’t know, there are 231 cubic inches in an American gallon… That’s 3711, which is about as crazy a conversion factor as you’re ever going to see).

When’s the last time there was an Olympic event that involved liquid ounces, acres, or gallons?

If you tell the average American that the women’s high jump record was broken with a jump of 6’9", they’ll think, “Wow, that’s about a foot taller than me!”

If you tell them it was 2.09 meters, they’ll scratch their head and figure you mean a bit over 6 feet.

I’m not saying we SHOULDN’T switch to metric, I’m just saying that you’re making an unfair judgement by using units that most people never have the need to use.

Unless you think that Americans say, “Oh, it only takes me 115.5 cubic inches of gas to get from home to work,” instead of “half-a-gallon.”

An American liquid gallon, you mean. There are 268.8 cubic inches in an American dry gallon.

OK, fair enough. Next time you have visitors sitting in your living room, ask them how many feet long and wide they think it is. That should give you lengths of about the same order of magnitude as the long jump. See how many of them know feet well enough to really understand how far the athletes are jumping.

When Mike Powell broke Bob Beamon’s long jump record, a coworker and I got out a tape measure and marked off the distance in our office (which had a lot of empty space). We were humbled.

The other figure that boggles my mind is the high jump record. I’m 6’5" (aka 195 cm). The record is over 8 feet. (I believe it’s 8’1"). That means someone has jumped over a foot and a half above my head. Or if they jumped in a standard room in the U.S., that person would have gone through the ceiling.

Bloody Ells!

A high jump of 8’1" (246.4 cm) is remarkable, but it’s not a superhuman Six Million Dollar Man bionic jump or anything. High-jumpers torque their bodies in the air so that it’s their center of mass that clears the bar. A 2-meter-tall person basically gains a meter of extra altitude for free by doing this.

They bend their bodies so that their center of mass goes UNDER the bar. (*)

So, that guy might have jumed higher than Bobt’s ceiling but at no time would he have been entirely above it.

(*) Still, I’ve only heard that. I expect it’s true, and its LOOKS true, but this is the SDMB, after all.

Let me follow up before any sort of slamming.

I always thought it was somewhat common knowledge the the HJer’s center of mass, remarkably, passed UNDER the bar. This could be achieved by bending over the bar so that the legs on one side which haven’t gone over, and arms/shoulders/head on the other side (which have gone over) made up for the torso/hips portion that was over the bar.

However, when you look at a picture like this there is no way that the jumper’s COM is under the bar.

Granted, this photo may be at a height where it’s not necessary, but I’m having a little difficulty finding a proper cite for the claim that I’ve always believed to be true.

Might be, actually, depending on the camera angle. It looks like his body (above the knees, at least) is horizontal in that shot, in which case his CM would probably be above the bar. But if the camera is near the ground and near the base of the apparatus, then that shot is a good bit after the peak of the jump, and his CM would be below the bar.