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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kudos to ESPN for standing up to NASCAR

It’s pretty rare you watch a sporting event where the announcers admit it’s boring. After all, it’s their job to make it seem exciting so more people will continue to watch.

But at Talladega, when the race was basically single-file for most of the day, ESPN’s announcers called it what it was – boring.

I applaud this honesty, as it’s something you don’t see often in sports broadcasting. NASCAR, on the other hand, doesn’t agreement with my assessment.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston spoke out this week about the broadcast and suggested the hosts, including former Cup champion Dale Jarrett, "certainly weren't happy with the race and felt compelled to remind viewers of that virtually every lap. ... And along the way, ABC missed a lot of very good racing."

I’m not sure what race he was watching, but that wasn’t good racing. Defending the race is pure arrogance and evidence that NASCAR can’t admit its failures no matter had bad they are. Tony Stewart even asked his crew during the race to tell him something interesting "so I don't fall asleep out here".

It’s pretty petty of a sporting organization to blast the TV coverage of its sport. You’d think they had more important things to do … like figuring out how to make Dega racing better.

ESPN also has made other subtle digs at NASCAR this season, such as mentioning the start-and-park teams by name, condescendingly saying things like: “gotta save those tires for the last two races”. It’s clear the announcers who do that don’t like the concept of start-and-parks, and are not afraid to say it, even though NASCAR tries to talk about these teams as little as possible.

I’m glad a network is willing to say what it wants about the product it is broadcasting. That is their right, considering how much money ESPN has invested to get back into broadcasting NASCAR races. The France family shouldn’t dictate what kind of coverage is provided, and their defense of the Talladega race just doesn’t hold up.

I respect that ESPN is standing their ground. It’s risky, as criticisms like this might put them in jeopardy of losing the NASCAR TV contract when it comes up for renewal in five years.

They deserve credit for telling the viewers the truth, despite knowing that NASCAR would not react favorably.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for calling out Nascar. I am surprised that not much was written regarding the fact that Nascar was critical of the ESPN. Nascar is still trying to make us fans believe that we saw "good" and "exciting" racing at Talladega, or for that fact all year. The remarks made by Pemberton were just plain laughable. I raised my kids to admit it when they were wrong and they might get punished but if you lie to me the punishment will be double. They penalize the drivers if they do or say something that isn't good for the "family" sport, but then they change rules, lie, etc. etc. I guess they think we are all deaf, dumb, and blind. Nascar and surely Pemberton have turn their backs on those who got them to where they are today.

November 8, 2009 at 11:43 AM 
Anonymous Richard in N.C. said...

Now of course no one in the media would ever criticize the mediocre job the Evil Empire has done with Cup races. Maybe if EESPN paid more attention to what was happening on the track, rather than their storyline, the racing on TV would come across better. It is about time that someone meaningful criticizes EESPN since the media covers up for their faults all the time. Sounds like Poston watched the race on the track, not what EESPN flung up on the screen.

November 8, 2009 at 4:32 PM 

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