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Television hype of All Star Race did the sport no favors

By admin | May 24, 2011

By Richard Allen

Leading into the Sprint All Star Race it was obvious that the Fox/Speed plan for getting people to watch was to promise an event filled with retaliation and confrontation. Seemingly every promotion featured clips of Kyle Busch barking for his crew to keep him away from Denny Hamlin and Darrell Waltrip exclaiming that it would be a night for getting even amid showers of sparks and crashing cars.

Trouble was, none of that stuff really happened. There was a crash or two over the course of the night but no one got out of their race car delivering drop-kicks or right crosses. There was drama in the sense that pit strategy and adjustments played into the race. And although the final segment did not feature much in the way of side-by-side racing, there had been passing throughout the night in the earlier segments.

But when controversy and blood sport are promised and not delivered, the race will be perceived by many viewers as a letdown. There could have been incredible racing with multiple lead changes throughout the night, but for those who bought the hype that there would be other types of fireworks, nothing else would have mattered very much.

Now keep in mind that most real fans of racing probably knew better going into the event than to buy the Fox/Speed hype. Most folks who watch NASCAR on a regular basis most likely tuned in to watch a race, not a boxing match. However, some casual fans who may only check in on the big events could well have gone into the broadcast thinking they were going to see Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman tackle each other in the garage area after the checkered flag fell or Kevin Harvick return the favor of pushing Kyle Busch’s unoccupied car through the pits.

To those who tuned in for some reason other than racing no doubt went to work on Monday and described to their co-workers how they spent a boring Saturday watching a NASCAR race.

In the long run, the hype that led into the Sprint All Star Race did not help the sport. In exchange for hooking a few temporary, one night viewers, the television network may have turned some who might have otherwise been intrigued off because that which was promised was not delivered.

Ever since NASCAR entered into its ‘big time’ television contract in 2001, this sport has gone through a disturbing pattern of short sighted decision making. Sprint Cup drivers and tracks dominating the lower series’ to gain brief pops in ratings only to see those divisions totally lose their identity, rule changes to fit rare situations that have eroded the fundamental integrity of the sport itself and sidebar issues being hyped over the actually product to gain quick ratings hits have become commonplace.

Of course, television networks cancel new shows after only one or two airings so patience and long term vision may not exactly be their strong suit. NASCAR should not have expected any different from them.

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6 Responses to “Television hype of All Star Race did the sport no favors”

  1. Steve Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Why does everyone keep calling this such a big event? What’s so big about it? Its not a points race, its 100 laps and only 20+ cars are in the race. Its big for the winner because of the prize, but as a fan, I have never thought this was such a big race.

    I was not impressed with much of what happened Saturday night. The pre race was long and overhyped. The showdown was good but not worth writing home about. 90 minutes between showdown and race was a joke due to exteme hype and WWE style introductions, the breaks between segments were pointless since there was no strategy being played due to the rules being dictated as such and a runaway winner with no passing whatsoever in the last segment, which was hyped all night to be the best racing all year.

    Bruton loves to hype this race to no end, but I wasn’t fooled by it.

  2. Justin Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I think the real reason Kyle Busch was on the radio warning the crew to “keep him away from Denny Hamlin” was because he was afraid he was going to get pummeled by Denny after the race….LMFAO

    The All Star race could be ok, but the Showdown is sooooo stupid. 20 laps, pit stop, 20 laps. Really??? That is the showdown? Really? Basically, whoever hits the set up is the winner of the race. Why not make it 120 laps, you know, an actual race. With strategy, and multiple pit stops, restarts, etc. Make it during the afternoon, so that the drivers that make it into the All Star race dont have an unfair advantage (ie: driving on the track as it begins to cool, etc).

    Or go all out and make it an all day event. Come up with a way to have 3, or more, races. Take the 30 cars that need to fight their way into the All Star race, and divide them in half. The top 7 finishers in each of those races, moves on to the Showdown. The top 5 of that race move on to the main event.

    Or eliminate the idea that race winners get into the All Star race. Give automatic entry for the current Champ’s in all 3 series. Give entry to the drivers that won specific events (like the Daytona 500, Indy, the previous 600, etc). The rest of the field has to race their way in through various qualifying races making it an all day event. Come on NASCAR, you want to make more money, sell concessions all day, lol…

    There are a million ways to make it a huge event, a spectacle, etc. The only thing the All Star race offered was the first view of that huge tv….

  3. The Mad Man Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Every week the networks and NASCAR use this same sort of hype in an attempt to get folks to watch the races. They have to pull clips of wrecks from Talladega and other tracks, some are even clips of practice or qualifying accidents, some showing the old winged COT, in an attempt to make the races seem more exciting than they really are. Then folks tune in and are let down because there weren’t any spectacular flaming car wrecks and cars flipping end over end or rolling down the track. Is it any wonder the ratings are as bad as they are overall? After all, all of these ads are being tailored for the casual fan with a short attention span rather than the die hard race fan who can sit through 600 miles of blazing heat.

  4. Mary from Richmond Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I roll my eyes every time I see an All Star race commercial. They start hyping this thing after Daytona. All of the “it’s for the fans” crap. Yeah, right. It’s for someone who already makes a lot of money to make even more. The fans are the ones who, in this crummy economy, spend the money that allows someone to have a fat payday.

  5. mike Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 7:41 am

    the media has ruined the sport, just a bunch of hype, the pre race shows are nothing more than commercials to fill a hour of bs that could be covered in 10 minutes. if the media wants a real pre race show they need to cover most all teams instead of a few top teams. the n.f.l. pre game shows all teams (26), could you imagine what the fans in the n.f.l, would do if they just covered the same 4 teams every week for the wholle season? It would be real informing if the media would spotlight a different team every week, go to the shop, interviw owners and crews.

  6. Justin Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Not that I disagree with you Mike, but last time I checked, the NFL had 8 Divisions, and each Division has 4 teams. That makes 32 teams…..unless I am misunderstanding your post, the (26) threw me off