It Is What It Is!
Note: My articles are based solely on my thoughts and observations. Normally I do not offer statistics, although at times I may reference what different broadcasters, among others, have said or alluded to.
Now that we’re down to only 12 drivers who are eligible to win the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championship, I am reminded of the time it started and some of the predictions a lot of us made and feared would come throughout the following of the 2004 racing season.
After 13 years I am still shaking my head about this one. No wonder we have lost sponsors. We have also lost a lot of fans during this time. Some of us older fans feel NASCAR no longer cares how we feel or even if we continue to follow the sport.
In 2004 I wrote an article about the new chase they would be implementing the last 10 races of the season and the change in how the point system would work. There was a lot of confusion plus concern and most fans were not in favor of this change to their favorite sport. Time has passed and it seems to a lot of us that their playoff system just does not seem to be keeping the fans it once had. Many of us have left due to lack of interest during the last 10 races. It seems the ones NASCAR currently tries to please and make happy are casual fans that fit their demographic of the type of fans they want for the sport.
As I was writing this, I remembered this article I had written when they first started their chase program. I would like to reference an excerpt from it. Please remember it was 2004 at the time I wrote it.
Please welcome The Nextel NASCAR Cup Chase for the Championship. However, I tend to think of it now as NNE, aka Nextel NASCAR Entertainment. The only thing we don't have at this time is Vince McMahan. Does Brian France really think he can make NNE into the show that WWE has become? Will we soon be having pay per view so the $$$ demand can be better satisfied? I watched and listened as Mike Helton and Brian France proceeded to explain the modifications in the points. What came across to me was the following: The repeating of "It is what it is." by Mike Helton; and no matter how the fans feel, they won't run it the way the fans want it according to Brian France. France also stated the new system will work and the fans will like it and continue to be fans. And no, it is not a playoff; it is a shootout. He stated it is in alignment with the NFL and other sports to draw excitement during the last part of the season. The problem I have with this is we are dealing with a complete team for one driver, not just one player of the game – uh, race. Each team has sponsors and I know if I were a sponsor and my driver was 403 points behind the leader at the end of 26 races and he just happened to win 3 or 4 of the last 10 races, but could not advance up into the top ten, I would think twice about renewing or continuing sponsoring a car and driver in NNE. There is a heck of a lot of $$$ difference here and my driver would not have a chance to get more $$$ by winning some of the last 10 races. Oh yes, he would still be in the running to win a race, just not run for the Championship. I do believe that Mike Helton said the first ten would be set for the remainder of the season and again said, "It is what it is."
Even though Brian said it was not a playoff but a shootout back then, they are now calling it exactly that - a playoff. He also said they wanted to draw excitement during the last part of the season; but too many of us longtime fans see just the opposite. There is not much excitement at this time of the season. Most of us have already acknowledged the person leading the points after the first 26 races as our Champion. A lot of us may or may not watch these last races. Some of us record or DVR the events, but still may not watch it later.
Since this began back in 2004, they have now upped the number to 16 drivers who are eligible for the championship of the season, even though there are only 10 races in that particular season. Everyone else who raced the first 26 races can only finish the season 17th through 40th even if he/she were to win several races in those last 10.
No matter how they break it down, there are still 36 races in a complete season of NASCAR and to most of us, a champion should be the best of all drivers during all 36 races, not just the last 10.
I am not sure how much ratings drop during the last 10 races. As I stated at the beginning of my article, I do not normally offer statistics. I do suspect that attendance and viewership does drop during this time. If so, that is very sad for the sport.
If you have any thoughts or ideas about the playoffs that you would like to share or add, please feel free to comment - or you may email me. Please keep it clean and no bashing. Thank you.