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Taxman
11-11-2008, 04:36 PM
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orl-whitley1108nov11,0,354138.column


NASCAR red-flagged by ABC

David Whitley
SPORTS COMMENTARY
November 11, 2008
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I regret to inform you that one of the great sports debates of our time is over.

NASCAR is not a major sport.

The argument has raged since stock car racing boomed in the '90s. It ended Sunday night when ABC switched from one of the biggest races of the year to show America's Funniest Home Videos.

One inarguable definition of "major" is that the sport is never preempted to show a dog with a butterfly on its nose.

"I mean, maybe if the president was going to talk. Maybe if something big had happened," Jamie McMurray said. "But I can't believe that America's Funniest Home Videos would take priority over us."

It did at the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. The Phoenix race isn't the Daytona 500, but it is the penultimate race for the Sprint Cup. With 34 laps left, the famed call went out.

Gentlemen, start your videos!

ABC went with its usual prime-time lineup and switched the race to ESPN2. That may have muted some of the reaction, but it still shows where NASCAR ranks.

It wouldn't matter if the president was going to announce that Martians were invading. If a network pre-empted a playoff game in a major sport, much less a Tim Tebow game, the phone lines would melt.

That's what makes Sunday's switch doubly depressing for NASCAR. Next to nobody seemed to care.

WFTV-9 programming manager John Keyes said the station received some complaints but "not an overwhelming amount." The phones didn't ring in protest at the Sentinel.(For some reason people call here with TV complaints. It would be like calling WFTV when your paper isn't delivered, but never mind.)

The lack of reaction makes me wonder if the incident is even worth writing about. NASCAR fans might not notice if the exciting finish to this column were pre-empted and switched to the obituary page.

Assuming, of course, NASCAR fans can read.

I didn't mean that, but it's the kind of name-calling the "major" debate usually degenerates into. Now all those arugula-eating NBA fans can also throw Sunday back in the faces of NASCAR devotees.

It doesn't matter that 150,000 fans show up for races or that drivers are good guys or that you can now get an arugula sandwich at the infield concession stand. As far as TV is concerned, you might as well be the WNBA.

It comes down to leverage, and NASCAR doesn't have it. Certainly not compared to the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball.

Their rules were cemented after the famed Heidi Game of 1968. NBC cut away from the Raiders and Jets game with 65 seconds left to show the TV movie Heidi, only to have the host Raiders score 14 points and win.

The controversy made the front page of the next day's New York Times. NASCAR's Heidi made the back end of a few blogs.

Some were mad at ABC, but the problem isn't with the network. The problem is that not enough people care about NASCAR in general and the Sprint Cup in particular.

And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that.

Just because a sport isn't the NFL doesn't mean it's not successful. But fans get so emotionally invested they take any slight as a personal insult. Look, if your self-worth depends on your sport's worldwide popularity, you should be a soccer fan.

So try not to take . . .

We interrupt this column to bring you . . . a dog and a butterfly . . . A woman freaking out over a fake mouse in her kitchen . . . A baby picking its nose . . .

This wouldn't happen if I were a major columnist.

Maxwell
11-11-2008, 04:38 PM
That really sucks for Nascar fans.

Buk Was Right
11-11-2008, 04:38 PM
Ha Ha!

Nascar got Heidi-ed.

RebootedCorpse
11-11-2008, 04:39 PM
Into the wall, bitches.

ZombieSpeedball
11-11-2008, 04:40 PM
AWESOME. No more "circlecirclecircleCRASH" bullshit.

Taxman
11-11-2008, 04:40 PM
Ha Ha!

Nascar got Heidi-ed.The funny thing about it is that back in April, I think, Fox was carrying this Yankees/Red Sox game which suffered this huge rain delay. They actually preempted the end of this game, without warning, to show the start of a NECK-CAR race.

Doc Randy
11-11-2008, 05:06 PM
I am a pretty big motorsports fan. I watch the world rally championship, FIA GT, Le Mans, and AMLS racing. Love the stuff.

Can't stand NASCAR. Why watch cars go in boring circles for hours on end? At least the other events I listed have off roading on ice, snow, sand, and gravel (with Rally), or complicated courses that involve cars that have to be able to turn in more than one direction.

It breaks my heart that NASCAR gets so much attention in the US, but great stuff like the WRC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans don't get shown at all.

markgrayson
11-11-2008, 05:16 PM
I am a pretty big motorsports fan. I watch the world rally championship, FIA GT, Le Mans, and AMLS racing. Love the stuff.

Can't stand NASCAR. Why watch cars go in boring circles for hours on end? At least the other events I listed have off roading on ice, snow, sand, and gravel (with Rally), or complicated courses that involve cars that have to be able to turn in more than one direction.

It breaks my heart that NASCAR gets so much attention in the US, but great stuff like the WRC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans don't get shown at all.

Then the Speed channel is your friend...when there isn't NASCAR on. :)

DaveCummings
11-11-2008, 05:35 PM
I can't stand it. My dad loves it and I went with him to a couple of races here in Indy. But we ended up leaving early because of the fact that by the time the race starts, you're out sitting in 90 degree weather in the blazing sun for hours already and have a killer headache. I can't stand it.

With Sports, give me baseball (especially the Reds or the White Sox), or basketball. Y'know sports that I've actually played when I was younger.