Well, color me confused -- with the 2009 season less than two weeks away, The Daly Planet
, a widely respected and avidly read blog that dissects the finer points of NASCAR TV broadcasts, is ending its two-year run.
While I can appreciate how a person might get burnt on this whole blogging thing, I find myself perplexed at the following:
Priorities are rapidly changing in the world right now. This includes professional sports from top-to-bottom. NASCAR is deeply affected and talking about the pros and cons of TV broadcasts suddenly has much less meaning.
The first two sentences are unassailable, but I'm afraid I strongly disagree with the third. Understand, that's not to say I think NASCAR is somehow more important than the larger world; it isn't and it never will be – though I do believe that sports become that much more vital during difficult times, be they personal or societal. And there’s no arguing the fact that sports like NASCAR play an exceedingly large role in society, both as entertainment and economic force.
And, right or wrong, TV is the vital component of the 21st century NASCAR experience. TV and the billions it paid in rights fees helped drive the sport's unparalleled growth. And, corresponding roughly to the period when TV started throwing around big money, costs throughout the sport escalated dramatically, ultimately increasing ticket prices and making race attendance prohibitively expensive for thousands of devoted fans. As a consequence, TV has become a primary lifeline to the sport and fundamental to the millions of fans who have otherwise been priced out.
Even more to the point as far as The Daly Planet is concerned, the failing economy has and will continue to directly impact TV and its ability to cover sports in general and NASCAR in particular. Continuing to debate the “pros and cons of TV broadcasts” may have less meaning in a global sense, but if anything, it has a much greater importance in this local sense. How effectively TV does or does not cover and address important issues has great meaning to a good many fans.
TV didn't make or create NASCAR, but the two are very much joined at the hip – you can’t talk about the one without at least acknowledging the presence and impact of the other. In other words, now is perhaps the best, most important time to have a site like The Daly Planet around to keep broadcasters honest and fans informed about the ins and outs of coverage.