Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.
Speedweeks is quickly approaching, and for those are you who are not familiar with that term, that is the official start of the NASCAR season at Daytona International Speedway. Changes are forthcoming for NASCAR this year. In case you missed, it was announced last Wednesday that NASCAR was overhauling its points system to make it easier for the common fan to understand. This was done in part to stop a trend of sagging attendance and falling television ratings. Now comes word that Fox Sports chairman David Hill wouldn’t mind seeing NASCAR races fit into a broadcast window. This led Sports Geek to ask Optimist Prime and myself to debate the issue of shortening NASCAR races, and whether or not broadcasters and sponsors should have any say so in it. I am strongly opposed to having broadcasters “fix” any races… and yes, I did throw the word “fix” out there.
The current contract that Fox Sports has with NASCAR is in effect for four more years. The fact that the sport has been on the network since 2001, with its inaugural race being the race Dale Earnhardt Sr. was tragically killed, shows that it’s been a profitable relationship. But, to pigeonhole a race into a certain time slot is a multicar wreck of Talladega proportions.
For starters, a race isn’t a ball game. It doesn’t have quarters or innings to go by. Yeah, it has laps or miles to go by, but how many times is a race extended due to a green-white checkered finish? How many times is there a massive wreck and the race is given the red flag, thus causing a lengthy delay?
How do you shorten the Daytona 500 by the way? You can’t! I do agree with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who says that he believes some races could probably be shortened, such as the two races at Pocono. Those are two boring races and they are less than two months apart from each other during the season. But I do understand the point of view that races are too long. However, Dale Jr. is a driver, and one of the more popular ones at that. He, not David Hill, deserves a say in how his sport his run. He isn’t sitting in some office wearing a suit deciding these things. Mr. Hill can dot the I’s and cross the T’s on TV contracts. Leave the racing, and making decisions about the sport itself, to the people inside the sport.
Optimist Prime is probably going to argue that since the four TV networks (Fox, TNT, ABC, and ESPN) are paying a rather large chunk of change, they should have a say in the length of the races and other decisions that may improve the sport. But do the networks have a say with the length of the other sports they are involved in? I think not! Yeah, they do have a say of when the games are televised, but hey, these four networks have a say in when these races are televised also, which is why some of the start times for the ten Chase races have been changed to avoid conflict with the juggernaut that is NFL football (assuming it happens) in the Fall.
I respect the fact that broadcasters and sponsors want to maximize their profit potential. Obviously, that’s good business sense. They can do anything they want to promote the product they in which they are invested. But it’s not smart to throw their weight around into changing the structure of the actual sport. That’s crossing the line, and it’s a line that doesn’t need to be crossed.