The Florida High School Athletic Association voted in September to use the international metric system, as opposed to the imperial system, in all state series competitions for the 2017 outdoor track season. In 2018, all regular season track competitions in the state of Florida will be required to utilize the metric system for measuring field events.
What does this mean?
Imperial system: 20 feet (20-0)
Metric system: 6.1 meters
While most high school track and field fans understand the significance of a 20-foot long jump and other imperial system benchmarks, the collegiate and international track and field communities use the metric system.
Will this change make field events harder to follow? Or is it better to get in line with the sport's NCAA and international standards? Right now, the only state to implement this new rule is Florida but others could soon follow.
What do you think? Vote in the poll below, tweet us @milesplit and leave a comment.
Kyle Brazeil of NY MileSplit listed these pros and cons:
- The metric system is the international standard for all field events. Not only that, it is also the standard for the NCAA. In order to better prepare our athletes, we need to adapt the metric system as early as possible.
- The switch to metric would add the ability for a higher degree of accuracy in measurement. As mentioned in Florida, "Going to metric allows us to use factors of ten anywhere on the measuring tape. We often find our champions using a Laser-drawn line on a high speed camera image in our running events. It's extremely difficult to accurately gauge the ¼" to ½""
- Track events are already in the metric system. New York uses the "metric mile" for females, and all events are run in meters. Even the mile has dropped down to the 1600m, because it is easier to manage.
- The transition costs are minimal. All tapes measures routinely come with a side for metric on the opposite of the imperial side.
- Our State Records already carry a metric conversion. No change would be necessary to compare to past marks.
- Our sport already struggles with the casual viewer. Do we want to alienate ourselves further, by no longer being relatable to the casual athlete? Saying someone has jumped 20-feet, is a lot easier to conceptualize to new American athletes, than saying they lept 6.1 meters.
- There are genuine "Magic Barriers" in our sport that exist under the imperial system. The Sub-4 Mile may be one of the most prominent, but a 7-foot plus High Jump, a 50-foot plus Triple Jump, and a 60-foot plus Shot Put barrier exists within the High School ranks as well.
- The imperial system carries an American Identity. Much like the mile, which has a strong movement to "Bring Back The Mile," the field events are deeply rooted historically in this system. The chase for a 30-foot long jump, or a 60 foot triple jump, is ever more encapsulating than saying 8.95 meters.
- The imperial system would still be required, as all boards are measured in feet. So you will still have the 12-foot board, the 16-foot board, but they will not translate into the pit measurements.