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What do NASCAR and the PGA Tour have in common? (5-14-08)

By admin | May 13, 2008

What do NASCAR and the PGA Tour have in common?


By Richard Allen


As unlikely as it may seem, NASCAR and the PGA Tour have something in common, and it is not a good thing.

One of the issues that the growing number of disenchanted fans point to in their discord toward the NASCAR racing is the appearance that drivers are not trying hard enough to win. Many drivers, although not all, seem all too happy with a good points day.

This past Saturday in Darlington, Kyle Busch won the race and received over $300,000 and 195 points, a nice reward for a victory. However, Carl Edwards was awarded almost $250,000 and 170 points. That is not a very big discrepancy in a sport where winning is supposed to be highly valued.

Not only does it seem that second place is too highly paid, Greg Biffle received over $80,000 for last place. Every position appears to be overly compensated.

In this way, NASCAR and golf share a similar problem. In the Tournament Players Championship concluded this past Sunday Sergio Garcia made $1.7 million for taking first place. But, Paul Goydos received over $1 million for finishing second. That is an awfully nice reward for not winning. Golfers are getting too rich for not succeeding.

All it takes is one look around the motor coach parking lot at a race track or a quick pass by the airport where the private jets are stationed to see that NASCAR suffers from the same affliction. Too many people are getting too rich for not succeeding.

While it indicates that both sports are financially healthy when non winners can be paid so much, it has the potential to be detrimental to competition.

If a driver knows he is going to get a large paycheck for winning but only a slightly smaller paycheck for finishing somewhere else then what is the motivation for trying harder? Of course, there are always those who will make every effort to win no matter what, but there seem to be many more who are content to just sit back and soak up the rewards for mediocrity.

There used to be a saying in racing that “Second place is the first loser”. That saying could now be replaced by “Second place makes me and my banker feel like winners”.

The media has also played a role in this change of attitude. Often it is written or said that a driver had a solid Top 10 or even Top 20 finish. Finishing 20th essentially means that a driver was beaten by half the field.

What is the point of writing this article right now?

The NASCAR Sprint All Star race is coming up this weekend at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The purse for that race is substantially weighted in favor of the winner. That, in turn, creates a “go for broke” attitude among drivers and teams. There are no points to be concerned with, just glory and a lot of money. No one will go into this race thinking second place will be a good run.

NASCAR needs more races like this. Of course, there is the fear that some teams would go out of business. What better motivation to succeed? Is that not the type of pressure most of NASCAR’s paying customers live with every day?

Fans want to see good competition and exciting finishes when they spend money to go to a race. No doubt, there it is a bit of a let down to hear a driver get out of his car after finishing second and proclaim it a success even though he did not win. Fans might question whether or not that driver was giving a full out effort, and thus, they may wonder if they actually got their money’s worth.

If the PGA Tour wants to be in the business of making people rich for losing that is their business but many racing fans would feel a lot better about their sport if NASCAR would not do the same.

However, since there are already some similarities between the two sports, one has to wonder how the folks at Augusta National would feel about a smoking burnout on the 18th green.

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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