David Poole, in an article on this site, discusses the current state of NASCAR. He asserts in the article that some fans revel in the sportâ€™s steadily dropping ratings as validation of their complaints. I plead guilty as charged.
Fans and critics give lots of reasons for NASCARâ€™s steady decline in popularity of late. But the common denominator in complaints about NASCAR these days revolves around the longtime fan and the lack of respect thereof.
Itâ€™s true that NASCAR over the last few years has discarded tradition remorselessly. Almost nothing about the sport these days is the same as it was just five years ago. The car, the venues, the points system, the rules, everything has changed, and mostly not for the better. Todayâ€™s NASCAR is its New Coke, and the reaction from customers has been similar.
Itâ€™s also true that theyâ€™ve done a lot lately that seems to reflect around revenues rather than customers or even teams. The Sprint/AT&T mess was a good example. The whole debacle didnâ€™t reflect well on Sprint or the sport. (Only NASCAR corporate lawyers could make AT&T look like victims.)
And itâ€™s also true that the integrity of the sport has become shakier. There are inconsistent penalty enforcements, questionable yellow flags thrown (and sometimes not thrown), and complete confusion if something strange happens at the end of a race, like at Daytona or Kansas. That Tony Stewart wasnâ€™t laughed at for comparing NASCAR to the WWE is telling.
So it does kinda warm my heart that fans are rejecting it all in larger numbers every year. I think thatâ€™s a good thing. When a sport disregards its most loyal fans for less than scrupulous reasons, it should pay a price at the ticket office and in living rooms. The loudest statement fans can make is the one that affects the wallet.
I wonder, though, about the Junior factor and what effect that has and will have in the future on all of this.
With Juniorâ€™s fan base as large as it is, the decline in ratings and attendance may well be related to the lack of success the 8 car has had in recent years. Everyoneâ€™s favorite driver did not score a win or make the Chase this year, and last year he was more or less out of it before the last few races. Little Eâ€™s fans love racing as much as all of us, maybe more, but itâ€™s a lot less fun to watch when your favorite driver isnâ€™t in it for the title.
Baseball wants the Yankees to be in the World Series. Or, more correctly, it benefits baseball most if the Yankees are in the World Series. A sport obviously wants its biggest chunk of fan base watching until the end. And Juniorâ€™s fan base is probably double or triple in proportion to that of the Yankees. We all know that was why the Chase was expanded.
So is the decline in ratings and attendance due to all of the things mentioned above, or is it just because so many Junior fans lost interest? My guess is that itâ€™s bothâ€¦Junior doesnâ€™t make the Chase, and then his fans think about everything else and decide NASCAR isnâ€™t worth their cash or time.
Next year may prove me and a lot of others wrong about all of this. Junior will be driving for a team that is currently destroying the competition, especially in the new car that will be used full time. So one of two things will happen.
He could fail to make the Chase, which will certainly cause Junior Nation to tune out even more and give loudmouths like me reason to thump our chests again as ratings fall further.
Or, much more likely, he will make the Chase and contend for the title, which of course will have millions more enthusiastically tuning in. Ratings go up, attendance goes up, and Brian France can claim that the Chase is wonderful, the CoT is wonderful, and all of the naysayers were wrong and he was right.
And the sport will rest on its laurels and on its universally despised changes, secure in the knowledge that they can muck with it all they want as long as Junior does well.
So tell me Junior fans, and everyone else, am I onto something or am I talking out of the incorrect cavity again? - thatsracin.com
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