It's Election Night.
Soon the flag will fall on the Chase for the White House and this race, which has lasted two Cup seasons or longer (or seemed that way) will be over. Hopefully, a debris caution like hanging chads won't push this into Overtime. Today, we elected a President, Senators and Representatives and other offices. We elected lawmakers. Before their terms end I won't be surprised if there won't be some lawbreakers in the group.
It's about laws ...
As this Cup season winds downs, we find a long-time series sponsor exiting stage left. To date no replacement has been named for next year but we are told that serious negotiations are on-going. Since the start of the 10 week Chase as the numbers continue to come in... To say track attendance is "off" and TV viewership is "down" would be comparable to saying the Titanic is "damp."
On a night about laws, there are three laws that impact this sport we love. The Sanctioning Body would do well to study, understand and acknowledge them as they try to move the series forward.
1. The buyer, not the seller determines the worth of any product.
This may sound odd, since the seller sets the price, but the actual worth is determined by the buyer who completes the transaction by paying what they deem as the fair price for them for that product or service. That is the worth.
This is one law that Series’ leadership has forgotten since they have successfully negotiated lucrative, long-term TV contracts. When you look at NASCAR from that perspective you think, man they are sitting on a gold mine. The only trouble is, this law applies to every transaction.
Some big corporation will pay a price to be Series sponsor. Will it be what NASCAR said it's worth or something less? Whatever is paid is what it is worth in that transaction.
To some, NASCAR is worth the hundreds of dollars for tickets, hundreds for multiple night hotel stays, hundreds for eats, drinks, meals over a multi-day trip and hundreds more for gas and wear and tear on a vehicle to get there and back. To others, NASCAR is not worth a few hours of their Sunday afternoon to even tune in to watch on their HD TV… Or comment on a NASCAR article, or even log on to read them.
All transactions, large or small are important and factor into the overall worth. If folks at the Beach want to increase the worth of their product, they must first remember all transactions, not just the big ones, determine worth. If they want to improve their overall worth they must improve their product... And remember they may set the price, but it's each consumer who determines worth.
2. A body either remains at rest or continues to move, unless acted upon by an outside force.
Sound familiar? Think back to High School Physics and Newton's First Law of Motion. Inertia applies to nearly everything in the universe and that includes NASCAR fans.
Remember when NASCAR was your life? You never missed a race, finding a way to attend, watch on TV or tune in on radio. You hung on every word, written or otherwise. You dug for every crumb of news or rumor you could find. You were a body in motion, constant NASCAR motion. Now you may find yourself on the other end of the spectrum. When it comes to today's NASCAR, you are a body at rest.
Can you remember what the outside force was that acted on you and changed your direction? I can. It was when FOX decided to move a race to a companion channel that I did not receive. For once, I could not watch the race. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't. The sun came up on Monday and I was still alive, but their decision killed a small part of me. I thought I couldn't live without it but through their decision to try to grow a dedicated channel, they showed me I could miss it and live.
Once you realize that, it's easier to quit the next time an outside force is applied. Maybe it's a bogus debris caution, selective enforcement of a rule or an extended caution scoring SNAFU. With every quit, it becomes easier to quit when the next outside force is applied. Soon you are a body at rest.
Others have their own reasons… the negative forces that have acted on them and slowed their momentum. Maybe it was the death of Dale, the COT, the Chase, Digger, Boogity x 3, a recession, untold others or a combination of factors that have slowed you to near stop. Poor coverage and an even poorer product apply no positive outside forces to keep you in motion or get you in motion again, so you slow to rest or remain at rest.
Welcome to the world of the lapsed fan.
As the Suits in Daytona make future decisions, they need to remember that Newton's First Law applies to their fans as well as their product. The decisions they make apply forces which will either bring fans back or drive them away. Likewise, they will either grow or kill this sport. May they choose wisely.
3. Good Coverage can't make a bad race good, but Bad Coverage can make a good race bad.
This one isn't Newton's, but is Nance's First Law of Media Coverage. It could be an article all by itself and there is not enough room here to give it the full treatment it deserves.
Using NFL for this example, not every game is a nail-biter. Some are. Some aren't. But each game is broadcast in a manner where the product, the game, is the central focus and it is covered in a manner so you can tell which type of game you are watching.
Some NASCAR broadcasters believe that if they throw in enough "junk" and focus on everything but the action on the track, they can provide entertaining coverage and keep fans coming back.
The signal this sends to viewers is that the on track product isn't good enough to show and if they did the ratings would tank. I'm sure that like I do, most others tune in to watch a race and to not be "entertained" by diversionary whimsy and as sad as the current situation is, what is even sadder is, if the product did improve, how would we know because the coverage is so poor?
Every time I hear someone say racing is better I want to ask a couple of questions. “Were you at the race?” If they reply “No”, I have to ask, “How do you know the racing is better?”
In days past, good coverage of good racing made me want to spend my money and see racing in person. What we have now is so lacking it gives me no desire to even watch on TV much less part with my money. My prayer is the new Series sponsor will place at least two demands on the Sanctioning Body. First, coverage must improve immediately and finally, the product must improve so it is no longer dependent on contrivances and manufactured drama to prop it up.
Go back to racing. Better racing will fix much of what is wrong and put the Series on a more positive path. It's what got you to the mountaintop years ago and what you've been falling off since.
On a night of lawmakers and laws, these are three Laws that folks who run this series need not ignore. They do apply to our sport and failure to comply has serious ramifications.
Two final thoughts before I close.
The Sanctioning Body should not fear negative remarks but should fear silence.
Remarks show people still care. Silence denotes either satisfaction with the product, compliance with the Sanctioning Body's and media's "orders" for fans to shut up and accept this, or the fans have "lapsed" to the point of not caring anymore. The danger with silence is you don't know which it is. Miss this one and you're sunk.
Finally, always hope for the best but never, ever challenge worse.
NASCAR might just prove you wrong.
Back to the Chase for the White House.