Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lip Service To NASCAR

It’s not big secret that for the most part, most of the networks that cover NASCAR really don’t care that much about the sport.  It’s easy to pay lip service once a week or so, but it’s not hard to figure out that most of the networks don’t really care about it.

ESPN does a heck of a job covering every sport from soccer to lacrosse.  They cover NASCAR, and do an admirable job.  But, if you listen to anything but Sports Center, or the one daily show, you’d never know NASCAR existed on ESPN.  That’s just on TV.

On ESPN Radio, you hear even less, except for the periodic Sports Center breaks.  Sporting News Radio is even worse.  Many of the personalities on both networks don’t even consider NASCAR a sport, and couldn’t name most of the current drivers, though they can recite Mickey Mantle’s statistics year by year throughout his career.  Most of these commentators weren’t even alive while Mickey was playing either.  That’s dedication, I tell you.

I know that stock car racing isn’t for everyone, but I can literally listen to the two sports radio stations on the radio here in the Upstate, South Carolina for 24 hours, and will never even hear a NASCAR mention, except on ESPN’s Sports Center, about every half hour.  Only the results of the latest race, and that’s about it.  If not for SPEED TV, I’d be basically lost when it concerns NASCAR most of the time.  ESPN does a credible job on its one daily show, but for the most part, nobody seems to give a fig about my favorite sport.

A week or so ago, I couldn’t sleep.  ESPN Radio apparently only takes phone calls from actual civilians such as me only late at night.  Listen to or watch Mike and Mike In The Morning, and notice that they only take a few e-mails from civilians.  Most of the other daily shows do as well.  Late at night, things can be a little different.  I called a couple of weeks ago to discuss NASCAR, and was told, rudely, by the call screener that not only did he, but also the host of the show, considered all car racing to be bogus.  “It’s not even a real sport.  It’s just dumb asses driving in circles.”   Next, I heard the click that every boyfriend has heard once or twice.  I’d been hung up on.

I find it interesting that ESPN and SPR pretty much only talk to their own reporters or columnists.  I’m sorry, but that makes for some pretty boring radio, as far as I’m concerned.  Who gives a crap about what the fans think?  It’s not like the fans are important anyway, are they?  Oh wait, don’t they buy the tickets?  Don’t they give the sport ratings on TV?  But by no means should they major networks answer more than a handful of questions from the fans, which are edited down to only the few that the dudes in front of the microphone can actually answer without embarrassing their particular network.

If you’re a network star, you probably don’t have to talk to too many people you’d rather not talk to.  As a fan, some of us have to talk to people we don’t want to talk to every day.  You know, people like bill collectors, people threatening to revoke your power, phone, or cable or satellite TV.  But can you get through to the stars, except a very occasional e-mail or text message?  When you hear your name on TV or radio, you probably feel like you won the lottery.  And in a way, you did.

All the networks have websites, and usually they have polls going 24 hours a day.  That’s the networks’ way of saying your voice will be heard.  Great.  I’m one voice among the other 38 thousand people who have responded.  Dang, I feel lucky tonight.

Getting back to the original topic, I say that if the NFL  has its own channel on cable TV, so should NASCAR.  Put all the races, Cup, Nationwide, Trucks, even regional series on your channel.  Hire the best in the business, only show exclusives on the other networks when the networks meet NASCAR’s demands.  Make it basic cable, but sell the crap out of it.  I’d pay for it.

Oh yes, I would, because I’d round up all the pennies and nickles in my house to do it.  NASCAR deserves it’s own channel.  SPEED TV does a great job, but NASCAR deserves better, because it is better than most other sports, in my humble opinion.

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