Insider's View: Paul Swangard

Paul Swanagrd sits in Hayward Field booth to cover the world championships

Paul Swangard, BA ’90 (radio and television), MBA ’99 (general business)—“the voice of Hayward Field”—will broadcast the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 for NBC, July 15–24. The University of Oregon instructor of advertising and sport brand strategy discussed the event with OQ.

OQ: What does the event mean for the community, the university, and Hayward Field?

PS: If you look at cities that have hosted this event—Doha, London, Beijing, Moscow—to put Eugene in that category is stunning. For the university, visitors will come away knowing about the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact or some of our other top programs, and just the beauty and scenery of campus. It’s like a ten-day infomercial.

Most other venues have hosted this event in mega-stadiums—they play soccer or football there, too. Hayward Field is built from the ground up as a theater for track and field: the seating is designed to serve as an amphitheater, with the vast majority of the best seats cradling that main straightaway to the finish line. You’re bringing that excitement and exhilaration to the final 100 meters of the race and everybody is in position to view that.

OQ: Who will you be watching?

PS: I anticipate Ryan Crouser competing in the shot put. He was born and raised in Boring, Oregon. His uncle, Brian Crouser, competed at the UO and Ryan competed at Hayward Field as a youth and high school champion. Ryan’s clearly coming to win one in his own backyard.

Mondo Duplantis, a pole vaulter from Sweden, is one of the most remarkable athletes in his event. He was born and raised in Louisiana; his dad made a pole vault pit in the backyard and he just learned to do everything through repetition.

Marcell Jacobs, born to an American father and Italian mother, was a military baby and ended up in Italy and was raised there, and now he’s the fastest man in the world. He’s the first Italian to ever qualify for and win the men’s 100 meters Olympic final.

Paul SwangardOQ: The personal stories can also be gripping at these global competitions.

PS: Some of the most emotional things we witnessed during the indoor season were stories about the women competing for Ukraine, who had to get out of the country and travel to Serbia to compete. One of the high jumpers—Yaroslava Mahuchikh—she’s among the favorites in Eugene, it took her two days to get to Serbia over land and she won the 2022 World Indoor Championships title.

OQ: How will it feel for you to be at Hayward Field for this event?

PS: I just know that when the place is full, when the community gets to showcase its love of this sport, when Track Town gets to see a truly international event happen in their own backyard and walk into Beppe and Gianni’s and wonder why everyone is speaking Italian, or go to the Sixth Street Grill and maybe it’s packed with Swedes . . . for these two weeks we have the world in our backyard and it’s a really, really cool thing.

—Booth photo courtesy Paul Swangard