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Author Topic: McLaughlin On Fox  (Read 593 times)
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« on: February 19, 2009, 02:35:02 PM »

As usual, Matt speaks for fans like mewho are just tired of all the BS on Fox.  I also noticed the CA race isn't actually scheduled to start until after 6 p.m. (even though Fox lists it as 5 p.m.).  From Matt's recent article on

"That brings us to FOX’s coverage of the 51st Daytona 500, a disaster that makes the Battle of Little Big Horn look like a Smurf’s picnic. A lot of folks took exception to the fact that the race itself didn’t start until 3:40 EST. They correctly point out that if FOX had begun the race earlier in the day, and rain was in the forecast, fans might have seen the entire 500-mile event. All day long, the boys in the booth were urging fans to tune in for all the action of the final 20 laps. But we never got to see them, did we? Instead, we got to see animated gophers showing us their butt, drivers dancing about like they’d been given a dose of bad brown acid at a Dead concert, countless tributes to ol’ DW as if he was the only driver ever to have won the Daytona 500 (did you notice FOX was a little light on highlights of the first Daytona 500 they broadcast?), a barrage of wreck footage, and the usual tsunami of stupidity from the Hollywood Hotel — where egos check in but information can never leave. The pre-race show was 90 wasted minutes that at best could be described as pathetic and more realistically might be called unconscionable. Somewhere out there, there might be someone who enjoyed it — but they haven’t written to me or posted on any of the message boards I’ve visited.

The lightning rod of the prattle-fest for fans was the new animated Digger and Friends animated segment, which FOX has threatened will be a weekly part of their broadcasts. Animation during a sportscast? That’s certainly innovative — or, I should say, it is an innovative way to try to sell overpriced plush toys, T-Shirts, and comic books without adding anything or worth to a race broadcast. To then prolong the agony by adding a musical interlude celebrating said rodent was just too much. I offer this as proof positive that if FOX has enough time to run the Digger segments, their pre-race show is by definition way too long. I still have my old tapes of races from the glory days of ESPN in the ’80s and early ’90s. A quick, concise pre-race show bought the viewers up to speed on the sports news and developments that week, and offered a few quick segments that gave some insights into who the drivers were as people away from the track. They’d cover the latest controversy, then say the prayer, sing the song, fire the engines, and go racing. And it worked… minus all the gimmicks, the egos, the noise, and the music videos. Back then, broadcasters realized they were there to report on the show… they weren’t the show itself.

No, I’m not looking at the past through rose-colored glasses. I do remember the Buffet Benny and Hat of the Week segments; but they were short and painless, and they were never allowed to intrude into the race coverage itself. To give an example, I don’t really give a fiddler’s fig which pit reporter’s voice I am listening to. Take down that graphic and let us see what lap the race is on, so we can figure out how long it is to the next set of green flag stops. It’s time for FOX to start treating race fans with respect — and to stop trying to convert them to the Cult of Personality that holds DW its high priest. If the money and time devoted to Digger were spent on a piece showing what teams had merged, what drivers had new seats, and why instead of that rodent stupidity, maybe fans wouldn’t have had to constantly check their programs to see who was driving which car.

Things don’t appear to be getting better near-term, either. Next week’s California race is unlikely to take the green flag until 6:15 or so next Sunday. By then, the sun will be down here on the East Coast, where the TV ratings seem to indicate most stock car racing fans still live. And the working class people I know, myself included, tend to turn in early Sunday nights to get ready for another long week of work ahead. Any weather delays (or given the race is in California, a possible earthquake, mudslide, wildfire, or plague of locusts) could easily push the conclusion of the race past midnight here in the East — the very thing NASCAR said they were trying to avoid when they pulled the plug on the Daytona 500 after twenty minutes of rain Sunday. (You do recall the California race that wasn’t called until 2 AM EST last year, right? Consistency…well, that’s a topic for another column.) The interesting thing to me is that FOX has chosen to push next Sunday’s race into a time slot where it will compete live against the Oscars, another bloated show celebrating egos — but one that tends to pull in pretty good ratings nonetheless.

It’s high time to make a declaration. We, the people, hereby hold this truth self-evident; no stock car race, with the exception of a Saturday night event, should end after 4 PM EST on a Sunday. There should be enough time left after the race to get a few more chores done, maybe take the scoot for a blast, wash the car, fire up the grill, and sit down to dinner with the family before sunset. Yeah, I’ve heard the argument that the networks and NASCAR are trying to appeal to West Coast fans. Oddly enough, a lot of my left coast friends always enjoyed the fact the races started earlier in the day, leaving them several hours of daylight in the afternoon to enjoy other pursuits after the event. Here on the East Coast, it was always traditional for fans to attend Sunday services, then hurry home to catch the start of the race. One of the key selling points of the new network package was supposed to be that fans would always know which channel to tune to in order to catch NASCAR each week (that didn’t work out too well for the second two thirds of the season). Now, fans know what channel the race is on — they just don’t know when. And, in increasing numbers, they also don’t seem to know why they should bother.

How can that be good for the sport? "


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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2009, 09:55:46 PM »



never under estimate what an angry mob can accomplish
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2009, 05:08:25 PM »

I have always believed that Matt McLaughlin was the best writer in the business.  I would like to thank him for another example of that.

I don't mind early starts to NASCAR races myself.  As long as the racing is good and the TV coverage is free of gimmicks, count me in. Smiley

Buddy Wayne Barefoot, unhappy with Baby Brian's handiwork, finds his true passion.Smiley
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