It is very easy to dismiss the notion that a sport should be able to exist outside of any third party influences. If this were an ideal world where were played inside a vacuum, where the playing field is always equal, and where life doesn’t constantly interrupt with the its relentless imperfections, then this debate would be an open and shut case.
But, life is complicated. And, as a reflection of life, sports are complicated as well. Thank goodness! That is what keeps us all so entertained, so tuned in for all 365 days on the calendar.
This debate was, in theory, simple. Prove or disprove that NASCAR – and by extension all major sports – should not change format or rules at the behest of influences outside of a sport’s governing body or representative participants.
Interestingly, Optimist Prime is dead wrong about the core of this debate. It is about whether NASCAR should bow to outside interests to change its sport. I think it’s clear that races should be shorter.
Both arguments made it clear that NASCAR needs to shorten races. No argument from me – that is not even debatable. Look at the most popular racing in the world, Formula One. Races are 2-2.5 hours. They NEVER extend beyond 2.5 hours. It’s easy for TV, for sponsors, for fans – for everyone involved.
With NASCAR, rain, and weather in general, are no small influence on the races. If it rains late in the second hour of a race, the race – and its coverage – will be extended indefinitely until the race is over. OR, the conclusion of the race will be postponed a day or two and rescheduled. That’s good for fans. The fact is, FOX (or any network, for that matter) doesn’t want that to extend its entire schedule into its primetime lineup, so it behooves the network to pressure for shorter races.
Okay, shorter races it is. But should NASCAR bow to outside influences?
Starting with Optimist Prime, I must admit that I am rightly skeptical of the notion that FOX is choosing to listen to fans more than sponsors. That simply is only half the story. Fans do dictate ratings, but FOX is likely full up with diminishing ratings as races go longer and longer. Fans speak, and sponsors react. Optimist Prime IS correct, however, in implying that any counter reaction from NASCAR is inherently a reaction to both fan and sponsor.
Optimist Prime makes a good point about the nature of NASCAR races, and how tuning cars in-race does not appeal to the vast majority of the audience. There is SO much broadcast time to fill in a race, however, that car tuning gets a healthy dose of coverage. Frankly, FOX doesn’t even do a good enough job of covering tweaks in race with their sideline crew. The strategy of NASCAR probably isn’t as appealing as it would be to, say, Formula One fans. Therefore it makes sense to shorten races to force the cars into more of a REAL sprint mode – a style that would have broad appeal.
Fans speak through TV ratings and attendance, which inherently impact sponsorship and advertising revenue. It makes sense for that to influence the sport, then.
But, fans are an outside interest. The sponsors and businesses the fans’ action influence is also outside interests. Both have earned a voice in shaping the sport.
Ironically, after misdiagnosing the true meaning of this debate, Optimist Prime still does an excellent job of proving that fans and sponsors should be allowed to change a sports, which is enough to win my vote for debate winner.