By admin | January 31, 2014
By Richard Allen
NASCAR is not football. NASCAR is not basketball. NASCAR is not baseball.
Good, now that we have that cleared up we can move on. While the idea of playoffs and eliminations may work well for those sports, NASCAR was never meant for such. It just wasn’t, and to try and make it so will only cheapen the sport and its championship.
But if the powers that be were worried about cheapening the sport, they would have stopped making changes long ago. Instead, they continue seeking the next gimmick that will turn the tide of ever diminishing race day attendance and lagging television ratings.
And speaking of all those changes, is anyone else alarmed at the increasing number of decisions made by NASCAR that seek short-term pop over long-term stability?
Seemingly every decision made by this organization is based on the way the winds of public opinion happen to be blowing at a particular time. A driver locks up the championship before the final race of the season in 2003, then institute a playoff. One owner has half the Chase field in his stable in 2005, then limited the number of teams any one person can own. Popular drivers miss out on the Chase over a couple of seasons, then expand the field from 10 to 12. A driver wins two big races but doesn’t make the Chase in 2010, then create wildcards. And finally, have a driver win the Chase too many times, then create a one race winner-take-all scenario.
And every time a change was made, it was going to make a great system better. Except now, that great system has essentially been trashed…again.
Coca-Cola tried making drastic changes once and learned that drastic changes don’t always improve the product. They realized that going back to the formula that made them a success was not such a bad thing after all.
NASCAR says that it is making every race important with its new system. That’s only partially true. Yes, winning will get a driver into the Chase under the new format, but there are not going to be 16 race winners in the first 26 races so points will still matter(That did happen once during the modern era in 2003). And those drivers who have not won by the 26th race of the season haven’t done so for a reason. They are likely not capable of winning, so the idea of an all out run to the finish for that final win and a Chase berth in Richmond is a bit far fetched.
Further, once a driver has won his one race, what’s the incentive for winning more? Chase seeding? That’s only going to make minimal difference, especially since winning within one segment of the playoff will automatically send a driver to the next segment.
NASCAR chairman Brian France has said many times that he wants his sport to have more “Game 7 moments”. That’s fine, but those can’t be manufactured. And further, by artificially creating a “Game 7″ in the season’s final race, does that not cheapen the other games?
The casual fan is what NASCAR is hoping to lure with this game show like format. France said as much in his Thursday press conference. So why should the casual fan care about watching the first 35 races of the season if they know a “Game 7″ is on the schedule?
Seems to me that NASCAR has placed all of its eggs in this one basket thinking the short-term buzz will keep them relevant.
Oh well, I do not like this new system at all. But if past history is any indicator, I won’t have to wait very long for the next one. The winds of change will blow again sometime soon.
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