Is pro cycling a dying sport?
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  1. #1
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    Is pro cycling a dying sport?

    Hereís the question(s)? Are we following a sport that is slowly dying (on a forum that is doing the same) or is pro cycling just reaching a point where it needs to evolve?

    https://www.velonews.com/2019/06/rid...cycling_495317

    What needs to happen on the business/sponsorship side in your opinions?

    What about how races are televised and presented?

    Does covering more crits and gravel events make sense given how popular they are at a grassroots level?

    Has the Hammer Series brought anything useful to the table that can be applied elsewhere?

    Are people just ultimately bored of watching pro cycling, where the first 1-3 hours are pretty meaningless to most of us?

    Were/are the doping scandals too much too overcome?

    What do you think?
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  2. #2
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    I think the UCI is preventing pro cycling from "evolving".

    They had a great chance to turn the top level of track cycling into a heavily sponsored popular spectator sport when Team Huub/Wattbike ( and other privately sponsored riders and teams ) started showing up at races and beating some if the best nation sponsored riders and teams in the world.

    Instead, they changed the name from "Track Cycling World Championships" to "The Nations Cup" or something along those lines... and changed the rules to only allow national teams and reduced the number of events from 6 to 3.

    This is a perfect example of the UCI not only failing to seize an opportunity, but also shooting themselves in the foot.

    They have also failed to purge the stigma of PEDs at the top level of the sport. Many people are turned off by the this, and don't want to encourage their kids to participate in a sport where the perception is that you have to cheat to win.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Finx View Post
    I think the UCI is preventing pro cycling from "evolving".

    They had a great chance to turn the top level of track cycling into a heavily sponsored popular spectator sport when Team Huub/Wattbike ( and other privately sponsored riders and teams ) started showing up at races and beating some if the best nation sponsored riders and teams in the world.

    Instead, they changed the name from "Track Cycling World Championships" to "The Nations Cup" or something along those lines... and changed the rules to only allow national teams and reduced the number of events from 6 to 3.

    This is a perfect example of the UCI not only failing to seize an opportunity, but also shooting themselves in the foot.

    They have also failed to purge the stigma of PEDs at the top level of the sport. Many people are turned off by the this, and don't want to encourage their kids to participate in a sport where the perception is that you have to cheat to win.



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    Itís definitely not a good look. You want top notch competition at these events and fans to get riled up supporting some team or rider. Who cares if itís a national or trade team? At some point, pro cycling has to realize that itís competing against sports that are far more exciting, for the attention of a generation that has much shorter attention spans and less patience. My guess is that pro cycling comes to that realization (and change occurs) if/when NBC and other major networks replace pro cycling on their schedules with some other sport that people enjoy watching more.
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  4. #4
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    Just my experience and situation:

    I got into road cycling in my early 20s, after college. I'd played "ball" sports, including through the DI level in college. After college was burned out on it, but wanted some exercise. I first started bike commuting to my job at the time, was tired of waiting for busses and had a bike. I realized I loved riding a bike. Had done so since I was a kid, but nothing serious. Well, my commuter bike got too slow for me, as others passed me. Picked up a used Cannondale...and it just went from there. Within a few years I was a full-on roadie. Numerous road bikes, riding a few hours a day. Then I moved to a new place with a good road scene. Started doing group rides, was riding many hours a week. Got into pro cycling in the late 00s/aughts. I'd watch all the races, I loved it. I'd also gotten bored of NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. Games too slow, too boring, just not my thing.

    2019. I have a full-time job. (I was in grad school for a number of years when I was a serious roadie and watching a lot of pro races, it was my main hobby/time waster instead of school work!) I have a wife, a three year old son, and a second on the way.

    I have little free time, not even enough to ride my bikes beyond commuting. I don't watch any mainstream sports at all (Well, the World Cup last summer, but that is once every four years). I'd still watch cycling, but I no longer can find race streams. I used to watch for free. I paid 1-2 years ago, then that site/service went belly up.

    I'd actually watch more pro cycling if I could watch it online and not pay. I know, this is what helps the sport die, but I'm not enough of a fan to pay. I don't have cable either. I'd watch it more if I could, but I can't. I agree the "product" could be improved for fans, but I'm okay with it...I just can't find the races online for free. Again, call me a freeloader, which is fine. But, I don't have the time to watch enough to justify paying for it. At this point, I'd rather spend time with my family. Walk my dogs. Or heck, ride my bike more.

    And to add to that - I have less and less time for multi-hour road rides. The less I do it, the less comfortable I feel on open roads with all the crazy drivers. With the rise in gravel riding interest, I wonder if there will be a big dip in road cycling in the U.S, which is where I live. I feel less and less safe riding on open roads, partially because I do it less and less. But drivers are more and more distracted and cars are getting faster and faster. Who know how autonomous vehicles will change things.

    Pro cycling has largerly died off for me because I a) don't have the time and/or choose to spend my time with family rather than watching sports of any kind b) can't find free online streams of races as easily. Or at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finx View Post
    I think the UCI is preventing pro cycling from "evolving".

    They had a great chance to turn the top level of track cycling into a heavily sponsored popular spectator sport when Team Huub/Wattbike ( and other privately sponsored riders and teams ) started showing up at races and beating some if the best nation sponsored riders and teams in the world.

    Instead, they changed the name from "Track Cycling World Championships" to "The Nations Cup" or something along those lines... and changed the rules to only allow national teams and reduced the number of events from 6 to 3.

    This is a perfect example of the UCI not only failing to seize an opportunity, but also shooting themselves in the foot.

    They have also failed to purge the stigma of PEDs at the top level of the sport. Many people are turned off by the this, and don't want to encourage their kids to participate in a sport where the perception is that you have to cheat to win.



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    Not that I disagree, but the PED issue is just amazing to me when I'm positive PEDs are rampant in the NFL and NBA and likely NHL, just that nobody really cares and chooses to ignore/pretend they aren't. So weird to me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
    Just my experience and situation:

    I got into road cycling in my early 20s, after college. I'd played "ball" sports, including through the DI level in college. After college was burned out on it, but wanted some exercise. I first started bike commuting to my job at the time, was tired of waiting for busses and had a bike. I realized I loved riding a bike. Had done so since I was a kid, but nothing serious. Well, my commuter bike got too slow for me, as others passed me. Picked up a used Cannondale...and it just went from there. Within a few years I was a full-on roadie. Numerous road bikes, riding a few hours a day. Then I moved to a new place with a good road scene. Started doing group rides, was riding many hours a week. Got into pro cycling in the late 00s/aughts. I'd watch all the races, I loved it. I'd also gotten bored of NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. Games too slow, too boring, just not my thing.

    2019. I have a full-time job. (I was in grad school for a number of years when I was a serious roadie and watching a lot of pro races, it was my main hobby/time waster instead of school work!) I have a wife, a three year old son, and a second on the way.

    I have little free time, not even enough to ride my bikes beyond commuting. I don't watch any mainstream sports at all (Well, the World Cup last summer, but that is once every four years). I'd still watch cycling, but I no longer can find race streams. I used to watch for free. I paid 1-2 years ago, then that site/service went belly up.

    I'd actually watch more pro cycling if I could watch it online and not pay. I know, this is what helps the sport die, but I'm not enough of a fan to pay. I don't have cable either. I'd watch it more if I could, but I can't. I agree the "product" could be improved for fans, but I'm okay with it...I just can't find the races online for free. Again, call me a freeloader, which is fine. But, I don't have the time to watch enough to justify paying for it. At this point, I'd rather spend time with my family. Walk my dogs. Or heck, ride my bike more.

    And to add to that - I have less and less time for multi-hour road rides. The less I do it, the less comfortable I feel on open roads with all the crazy drivers. With the rise in gravel riding interest, I wonder if there will be a big dip in road cycling in the U.S, which is where I live. I feel less and less safe riding on open roads, partially because I do it less and less. But drivers are more and more distracted and cars are getting faster and faster. Who know how autonomous vehicles will change things.

    Pro cycling has largerly died off for me because I a) don't have the time and/or choose to spend my time with family rather than watching sports of any kind b) can't find free online streams of races as easily. Or at all.
    I think this is part of it. Is pro cyclingís product compelling enough to get busy people with competing interests and other options to use some of their valuable free time watching it?

    Try Tiz - cycling Live for free streams.

    Oh and the NFL has a much more stringent ped testing program than cycling does I believe. Other big sports may as well. Thereís too much to lose for ďleaguesĒ not to today. Cycling is unusual in that thereís less money involved, coming from fewer places, and the likes of the UCI and ASO have basically total discretion. These other sports have collective bargaining agreements, major television contracts, and tons of oversight.
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  7. #7
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    I would love to take mornings off to watch races live while drinking beers with buddies but who has the time to do that? I certainly don't. The free time I do have I try to be out riding or doing something else. This isn't exclusive to cycling for me though. I don't watch much TV at all other than some playoff/finals sports. I'll watch regular season football games but only because there are so few in comparison to other sports and even then if I watch 8 regular season games that would be a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    Hereís the question(s)? Are we following a sport that is slowly dying (on a forum that is doing the same) or is pro cycling just reaching a point where it needs to evolve?

    https://www.velonews.com/2019/06/rid...cycling_495317

    What needs to happen on the business/sponsorship side in your opinions?

    What about how races are televised and presented?

    Does covering more crits and gravel events make sense given how popular they are at a grassroots level?

    Has the Hammer Series brought anything useful to the table that can be applied elsewhere?

    Are people just ultimately bored of watching pro cycling, where the first 1-3 hours are pretty meaningless to most of us?

    Were/are the doping scandals too much too overcome?

    What do you think?
    For me, pro cycling isn't interesting enough to watch unedited. I had NBC Sports Gold for a couple of years and I would watch the Tour stages but generally only the TT's and mountains, and even then I was skipping ahead to get to the "good parts". If there was an option to watch a one hour edited highlights summary of each stages I would watch that but since major networks have no interest in this I doubt it will happen. On the other hand people watch NASCAR and soccer on TV so there are some viewers that can tolerate a lot of boredom

  9. #9
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    There are a few things here. First in the US it has never really been anything more than a niche sport and never will be. Next, I think the Hammer Series is an attempt at trying something a little different, however the TTT part still needs some work (and I think the TTT would actually benefit from being on an enclosed race track type of setting). Financing, they need to find more ways of bringing in money for the teams and one thing that it appears only Quickstep has really started to do anything with is merchandising. Quickstep has started selling stuff with the Wolfpack name on it and have started selling a few with with riders names and even autographs on them. This is a way to bring in some money and also boost rider pay without it being part of the salary as they'd get a small percentage of money from items sold with their name or autograph on it.

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    As for attention spans people still watch baseball, soccer and auto racing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    Hereís the question(s)? Are we following a sport that is slowly dying (on a forum that is doing the same) or is pro cycling just reaching a point where it needs to evolve?

    https://www.velonews.com/2019/06/rid...cycling_495317

    What needs to happen on the business/sponsorship side in your opinions?

    What about how races are televised and presented?

    Does covering more crits and gravel events make sense given how popular they are at a grassroots level?

    Has the Hammer Series brought anything useful to the table that can be applied elsewhere?

    Are people just ultimately bored of watching pro cycling, where the first 1-3 hours are pretty meaningless to most of us?

    Were/are the doping scandals too much too overcome?

    What do you think?
    The problem with cycling....it is insanely expensive in equipment. Just bonkers. Which is compounded by the ability of anyone local to see it for free from the roadside. Which is made worse because unlike Basketball/Football that 100% ride on taxpayer subsidization of equipment (i.e. venues), cycling doesn't. No corporate sponsorship model will ROI in cycling--EVER. It is too expensive. Especially on the men's side--where race's actually get salary/income/insurance (like they should).

    Men's UCI Road racing has become a sport of prima-donnas who don't even change their own tires. They throw a temper tantrum and bounce a bike costing more than a working-man's income for a year on the ground like a toddler while a butler (team mech) gets another off their own SAG....that has been telling them what to do for 4+ hours everyday via radio... They have Team campers, not even staying in local hotels.. They have Team masseuses. Team wrenches. Team this and that....it has led to a sport so far removed from anyone's everyday cycling experience it becomes patently artificial.

    ...which is part of the appeal of "gravel" events--returns to the Hard Man/Woman days where you had to support yourself across lord knows what.


    The race "tactics" are part of the bore. Made worse by US coverage--which only knows the NFL model of 30 seconds of action and 10 minutes of standing around. Half the fun in watching a cycle race is tourism and seeing locales you never might. US streams/broadcasters ALWAYS cut out this in favor or making faux-drama out of nothing to fill time, and of course, throwing to commercials 80% of the time. Hammer has helped a bit. But it is one tiny event.


    I haven't talked about the women's side....because it is almost never broadcast. Although that is changing a bit. And honestly the races tend to be much more interesting.
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    I had been watching the TDF and Veulta on NBC sports gold; they keep jacking up the price every year; so done with that. Not worth my time or money to continue to watch pro-cycling. Between the corruption and increasingly boring racing; not much entertainment value there IMHO. Although as noted, pretty much all pro-sports and college (football & basketball) even more so are as bad or worse than pro-cycling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoonHowl View Post
    I had been watching the TDF and Veulta on NBC sports gold; they keep jacking up the price every year; so done with that. Not worth my time or money to continue to watch pro-cycling. Between the corruption and increasingly boring racing; not much entertainment value there IMHO. Although as noted, pretty much all pro-sports and college (football & basketball) even more so are as bad or worse than pro-cycling.
    I am pretty close to this. I like the last 40 or so miles of the Classics, but as stated by others, I could really live with and prefer extended highlights of stage race stages, especially grand tours. I enjoy NBA games as they approach the playoffs, but the seasons for NBA and MLB are WAY too long. March madness is fun as they approach the sweet sixteen and farther and I love the summer Olympics. Canít watch a full football game or soccer matches anymore. I can only really watch the last 20 minutes or so of F1, but I genuinely like the sport. I also like watching the finals of tennis grand slams. Itís fun.

    I prefer to play/do any sport rather than watch it these days. Itís tough because I am getting older and thatís becoming tougher to do, but I almost always would rather be outside. I just donít enjoy a day spent in front of the tv as much as I did even five years ago.
    Last edited by Rashadabd; 06-26-2019 at 05:17 PM.
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    Oh and I really like watching XCO MTB World Cup races. The length is almost the perfect amount of time, they are extremely entertaining if Nino Schurter isnít winning them all (which he currently isnít), and the terrain is both beautiful and keeps the race interesting. There are climbs, there are descents, people crash, but are typically able to get back up and race, etc. Weather can also completely change the game as well. The coverage is well done and itís all free on red bull tv. Check it out if you havenít.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    The problem with cycling....it is insanely expensive in equipment. Just bonkers. Which is compounded by the ability of anyone local to see it for free from the roadside. Which is made worse because unlike Basketball/Football that 100% ride on taxpayer subsidization of equipment (i.e. venues), cycling doesn't. No corporate sponsorship model will ROI in cycling--EVER. It is too expensive. Especially on the men's side--where race's actually get salary/income/insurance (like they should).

    Men's UCI Road racing has become a sport of prima-donnas who don't even change their own tires. They throw a temper tantrum and bounce a bike costing more than a working-man's income for a year on the ground like a toddler while a butler (team mech) gets another off their own SAG....that has been telling them what to do for 4+ hours everyday via radio... They have Team campers, not even staying in local hotels.. They have Team masseuses. Team wrenches. Team this and that....it has led to a sport so far removed from anyone's everyday cycling experience it becomes patently artificial.

    ...which is part of the appeal of "gravel" events--returns to the Hard Man/Woman days where you had to support yourself across lord knows what.


    The race "tactics" are part of the bore. Made worse by US coverage--which only knows the NFL model of 30 seconds of action and 10 minutes of standing around. Half the fun in watching a cycle race is tourism and seeing locales you never might. US streams/broadcasters ALWAYS cut out this in favor or making faux-drama out of nothing to fill time, and of course, throwing to commercials 80% of the time. Hammer has helped a bit. But it is one tiny event.


    I haven't talked about the women's side....because it is almost never broadcast. Although that is changing a bit. And honestly the races tend to be much more interesting.
    Yeah, the free admission thing is both admirable and stupid. Cycling doesnít come close to the cost of running an F1 team or race, but I hear ya.
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    The Classics and one day races for me. The Tours and week long races where nobody is racing but everybody is protecting their position suck.

    One day races are interesting and can be exciting but a multi day race has us waiting till the last kilometers of the race for an attack, and then,
    sh!t, too late again. Too much energy spent on keeping the third step of the podium and not enough spent on climbing to the top.
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    While it has flourished in Europe pro cycling like F1 has never been big in the United States and IMO the two will never be big in the US. Too many other things or distractions and competitors including other sports firmly entrenched.

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    I continue to love watching bicycle racing, but there's no denying that professional bicycle racing is an odd sport. For starters, teams constantly change their names to reflect their current sponsors, something which makes it harder to root for a particular team as the years go by. The teams constantly change their uniforms, as well! For better or worse, what this does is de-emphasize the concept that there are actually teams out there.

    Instead, what we root for are individual riders, who are much like actors working in a series of individual films. They develop roles and personalities. Some are tough guys. Some are loyal subordinates. Some are petulant, fragile, vainglorious egomaniacs. Let Cipo be Cipo. Let Lahnce be Lahnce. Let Zabel be Zabel.

    Sure, individual stages mostly consist of the riders locked in position for lengthy periods, but there are plenty of subtleties to enjoy as the miles/kilometers roll by. Members of rival teams find themselves in temporary alliances. How long will the alliance last? Who (or is it whose legs) will betray whom?

    Then there's the craziness of where they do the races. Though the officials try their best to keep obstacles and spectators a safe distance away from the participants, the races happen on public roads, not in the sterility of stadiums. Chaos is never more than a moment away. Finally, oh yeah. The playing fields are absolutely breathtaking.

    In other words, pro bicycle racing, and especially the grand tours, operate on a level that makes them beyond compare in the world of sports. The sport defiantly breaks the rules. The craziness may not make the buttoned-down happy. But how 'bout if we occasionally loosen our collars?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    I continue to love watching bicycle racing, but there's no denying that professional bicycle racing is an odd sport. For starters, teams constantly change their names to reflect their current sponsors, something which makes it harder to root for a particular team as the years go by. The teams constantly change their uniforms, as well! For better or worse, what this does is de-emphasize the concept that there are actually teams out there.

    Instead, what we root for are individual riders, who are much like actors working in a series of individual films. They develop roles and personalities. Some are tough guys. Some are loyal subordinates. Some are petulant, fragile, vainglorious egomaniacs. Let Cipo be Cipo. Let Lahnce be Lahnce. Let Zabel be Zabel.

    Sure, individual stages mostly consist of the riders locked in position for lengthy periods, but there are plenty of subtleties to enjoy as the miles/kilometers roll by. Members of rival teams find themselves in temporary alliances. How long will the alliance last? Who (or is it whose legs) will betray whom?

    Then there's the craziness of where they do the races. Though the officials try their best to keep obstacles and spectators a safe distance away from the participants, the races happen on public roads, not in the sterility of stadiums. Chaos is never more than a moment away. Finally, oh yeah. The playing fields are absolutely breathtaking.

    In other words, pro bicycle racing, and especially the grand tours, operate on a level that makes them beyond compare in the world of sports. The sport defiantly breaks the rules. The craziness may not make the buttoned-down happy. But how 'bout if we occasionally loosen our collars?
    +1...Well said

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    The changing sponsorships is no different from auto racing where sponsorships are changing all the time.

    Cycling will never be a popular sport in the US. Too many other things going on and the races are basically raced while we're sleeping and/or working. There are too many other things to do and too many other sports as well. Heck in LA unless you have a team winning you aren't going to sell out a stadium for any sport because there are to many other things you can easily do with your time.

    Do I enjoy it sure, but I prefer the one day races to the stage races. The TdF being my least favorite race to watch. As for the flat sprint stages, well let me know where there are 20k or less to go. The rest isn't worth bothering to watch.

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    I don't give a rat's ass about most pro sports.

    the NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA, NHL etc can all just suck it...don't care about their outcomes.

    but, watching the TdF is a years-long tradition...I record every stage and dutifully watch every year listening to the Phil and Paul blather.

    is it always exciting racing...no. but the fast-forward / mute buttons solve most of those problems.

    have tried to watch other pro cycling races, but they just don't inspire my interest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoroninK View Post
    The changing sponsorships is no different from auto racing where sponsorships are changing all the time.

    Cycling will never be a popular sport in the US. Too many other things going on and the races are basically raced while we're sleeping and/or working. There are too many other things to do and too many other sports as well. Heck in LA unless you have a team winning you aren't going to sell out a stadium for any sport because there are to many other things you can easily do with your time.

    Do I enjoy it sure, but I prefer the one day races to the stage races. The TdF being my least favorite race to watch. As for the flat sprint stages, well let me know where there are 20k or less to go. The rest isn't worth bothering to watch.

    My favorite sport happens to be hockey.
    Thing is...most of the calendar year there is no sports broadcast in the USA. High cycling season there's practically no sporting content to watch in the us at all.
    Football season lasts all of a few months as does basketball....other than that, ESPN and the like only air reruns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    While it has flourished in Europe pro cycling like F1 has never been big in the United States and IMO the two will never be big in the US. Too many other things or distractions and competitors including other sports firmly entrenched.
    At one time track racing was the biggest sport in the USA. Six day races attracted the big crowds and I've read that if the velodrome was sold out folks who couldn't get in would go to a baseball game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    At one time track racing was the biggest sport in the USA. Six day races attracted the big crowds and I've read that if the velodrome was sold out folks who couldn't get in would go to a baseball game.

    The "Madison" got it's name from Madison Square Garden.
    I have read about those good old days when researching Major Taylor's career. It seems like we are a long ways from that now. Teams and races are folding on the regular. Some get replaced, some don't. Less and less of my friends and associates even follow races closely anymore. They would rather be out riding (and often MTB or gravel). It will certainly be interesting to see where things stand five-ten years from now.
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    Posts
    2,185
    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Thing is...most of the calendar year there is no sports broadcast in the USA. High cycling season there's practically no sporting content to watch in the us at all.
    Football season lasts all of a few months as does basketball....other than that, ESPN and the like only air reruns.
    Basketball (college is November through March (first weekend of April). Hockey season is longer. The NHL season is from the beginning of Oct through May and into June for the finals. However, good luck finding it on TV, esp if you aren't in a market of an NHL team. Middle of the summer is when the US is lacking for sports coverage with baseball and auto racing being it. It would be nice to have some real coverage of races, but stations like ESPN would prefer to show poker (who know why) to cycling. I remember when ESPN was young (back in the 80's) and they showed all kinds of sports, but now if it's not football or basketball they don't care.

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