By admin | January 24, 2010
By Richard Allen
For those of you who might have been worried about the state of NASCAR going into the 2010 season, fear not. According to those at the top of the sport everything is just fine.
At stop after stop on the Sprint Media Tour the twitter feeds lit up with messages from the racing media that they were being told over and over again that the sport was in good shape and those who proclaimed otherwise are basically making things up.
NASCAR chairman Brian France went so far as to call the 2009 season â€œthe most competitive in the history of NASCAR.â€ Well, if that is the case itâ€™s really too bad so many people missed it. All the folks who left those seats empty at numerous tracks and failed to tune their televisions into the NASCAR telecasts will be sorry to hear what they missed.
I wonder if all those teams struggling to find sponsorship at this late hour would agree with Mr. France? Oh wait, those teams are struggling solely because of the economy, not mistakes by NASCAR.
And, of course, there was the old stand-by line of blaming the media by some along the tour. Perhaps those in power at NASCARâ€™s highest levels -and this includes drivers, team owners, sponsor reps and the sanctioning body itself- think fans would not be smart enough otherwise to decide for themselves that the racing was bad in 2009. So, had the media not told the fans such a thing they would have never known.
I wonder if those 18 folks who lost their jobs at NASCAR Scene agree that the problems in the sport are their fault? Oh wait, that publication went down solely because of the changing landscape of the modern day media. None of their problems were the result of people losing interest in the sport it was their job to cover. And besides, those people wouldnâ€™t be losing interest if the media would quit telling them to do so.
With all that said, the media tour really seemed to take on the feel of a political campaign. â€œEverything is great. This is the best of times. Things have never been better. Now, letâ€™s change it.â€ One has to wonder why the changes to have been announced so far as we approach the beginning of a new season were necessary coming off â€œthe most competitive season in the history of NASCARâ€.
The truth of the matter is, of course, that NASCAR has finally come to the realization that everything is not fine. Empty seats, lowered television ratings, sponsor withdrawal and the general sense of apathy surrounding the sport scream that something is wrong and NASCAR has finally been forced to come out the ivory towers in Daytona Beach to address some issues. The real questions are, did they wait too long before abandoning their stubborn stance of insisting everything is fine? And, will they be willing to make the right changes? For that matter, do they have the leadership in place to make the right changes?
I donâ€™t know about anyone else, but I am really hoping we do not have another of the â€œmost competitive seasons in the history of NASCARâ€ in 2010. No NASCAR, everything is not fine and you know it.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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