By admin | November 30, 2009
By Richard Allen
I was feeling a bit under the weather this past Sunday and found myself couch ridden for much of the day. Since there was no NASCAR to watch I found myself taking in a full afternoon of NFL football instead.
Since I typically make NASCAR racing my top priority during the racing season, I usually only watch parts of NFL games until the NASCAR season ends. This past Sunday has made me wonder if my sports priorities are appropriately placed.
Living in Tennessee means that the Titans are often the game of choice in my television viewing region. Their game this past Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals was one of the most exciting sports broadcasts I’ve seen in a long time. The Titans took possession of the ball on their own one yard line with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Since they trailed Arizona by four points they had to drive the length of the field and score a touchdown to win.
The Titans proceeded to take the ball all the way down the field, after converting three separate 4th downs, and scored the winning touchdown as time expired.
After watching that I had to ask myself, can NASCAR create the same excitement?
I can think back to races that have had me on the edge of my seat but it seems as if those are becoming fewer and farther between. It seems as though most NASCAR races are dominated by one drive or another with the outcome fairly obvious from early on in the event.
Sure, NASCAR often attempts to create drama by throwing well timed ‘debris cautions’ with an appropriate number of laps remaining. However, that type of contrived ending leaves something to be desired and appears to be more of a show than real competition.
Granted, every NFL game does come down to such an ending as the Titans-Cardinals game. And, it is no doubt argued in some circles that there is a certain amount of contriving to create such scenarios in those games as well. However, my argument is that such edge of the seat type excitement is more prevalent in that sport than NASCAR.
And more, there could be all sorts of arguments as to the NFL’s playoff system vs. NASCAR’s. But to me, the real question is, can NASCAR ever truly compete with the NFL or any other sport on a weekly basis given the current arrangement in racing?
I have never watched racing for the sole reason of seeing a side by side race to the finish line. Part of what has always made this sport appealing to me is the human element of it. Over recent years the sanctioning body has seemed to do its best to remove that element and make the drivers and the machines they drive all the more similar and robotic.
Without the human element, this sport becomes nothing more than cars parading around in a circle to me. It is my hope that those in charge of NASCAR will see this as soon as possible and realize they can’t be other sports. They need to be what they are instead of what they think the mainstream public and media wants them to be. If that day does not come soon I fear that NASCAR will find itself competing with minor league sports rather than the NFL and other major league sports.
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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