Merry Christmas and a happy new year?
Look, it’s bad, okay? The economy sucks and it isn’t going to get better any time soon. And while it would be nice if we could give all these doom and gloom stories a rest, the fact is, we can’t – NASCAR has been and will continue to be in the midst of a seriously tough time. And while I generally thrive on negativity, even I’m a little burnt at this point.
Still, even I, a nattering nabob of negativity if ever there was one, can see the strands of potential woven into this apparently disastrous fabric. First and foremost, NASCAR will not disappear, no matter what nincompoops might suggest. Secondly and most important, though, is the idea that the sport could emerge from this period stronger and better-prepared for the next downturn. Think of it like a forest fire that clears out all the underbrush … or, given the severity of things, imagine a big, fat, giant enema – unpleasant, sure … unless you’re into that kind of thing, but, well, anyway … really, don’t you just love that clean and fresh feeling you get all over after? If the governing body of NASCAR plays its cards right, it could look back on the ’08 and ’09 seasons as just one giant enema …
Lovely imagery notwithstanding, the point remains. NASCAR has enjoyed a period of unchecked and unrivalled growth. It has made hay for something on the order of 20 years, every year seemingly better (read: more profitable) than the last. Well, business is cyclical and gravity indicates that what goes up, must come down. And entities that are constituted to endure the lean as well as the fat times are the ones that stand the test of time and thrive. NASCAR needs to clean its system and regroup for the immediate future. Unpleasant, perhaps, but a very necessary byproduct of doing business.
This is, arguably, the most difficult challenge NASCAR has faced in its history. Prior to this last phase of unfettered growth and prosperity, NASCAR was a regional, niche sport; any challenges were then, almost by definition, fairly minor in scope and could be addressed directly and quietly. Well, the boys in Daytona got what they asked for – a place at the table and a spot on the national sports stage. As a result, its decisions ripple across a far bigger pond.
In the end, really, the question isn’t Can or will NASCAR survive? Rather, it’s Will NASCAR take its enema like a man, cleanse the proverbial pipes and come back stronger than ever in 2010?