• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CHAMP CAR: DO THE RIGHT THING

Not that I expect this to happen, since beginning with Andrew Craig it seems to have been official policy of CART/Champ Car management to thumb its nose at the workers whose dedication made it possible for the company to exist, but as next month's Long Beach Grand Prix is being touted as the series "grand finale" it would be nice if at least some of those people were invited as honored guests and formally recognized and thanked for their incredible efforts.

The list is long, but here are several names, which I offer based on my own long and personal experience:

Jim Melvin, Wally Dallenbach, Kirk and Barbara Russell, Billy Kamphausen, Bill Luchow, Dick Perry, Dr. Steve Olvey, Dr. Terry Trammell, Cathie Lyon, Lon Bromley, Cheryl Alexander, Greg Passauer, Liz DeLuca, Chuck Greer, Karen O'Brien, Bob and Barbara Funk and a member of the late Nick Fornoro's family.

Is it asking too much for management, at least at the end, to do the right thing?
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I offer this simple reminder to those at SPEED Channel and SpeedTV.com:

Words mean things.

One might not think a media company would need such a mind refresher. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Last year, the network spent a week hyping a joint Ed Hinton-Robin Miller appearance on Wind Tunnel by promoting it as "televised hate." Hinton disavowed himself of that description right at the start of the show. I told him later he did the right thing and it added to the substance and credibility of his comments.

Recently, a .com column was headlined this way: "Hate ‘Lanta: SpeedTv.com's Tom Jensen says the hate is back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage and that's not a bad thing . . ."

The article began: "In case you didn’t notice, the hate is back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage. And that is a very good thing indeed."


Just what our world needs: The promotion of hate as a positive. All in the name of entertainment and ratings and readership, of course.

Since they're expanding and hiring at the network, I'll (again) call on the S Channel to follow the lead of ESPN and other media organizations, and hire an Ombudsman to monitor standards and advocate for the public interest. An O might start by explaining why management now allows its "celebrity" announcers to sell corporate ID space on their network-logo clothing.

Somehow, I don't think we'll see sponsor names on the blazers worn by ESPN's Monday Night Football announcers.
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I've been sounding this warning for well over a year. Last week, it was acknowledged in a NASCAR.com column (bold emphasis mine):

"Similarly, NASCAR's early-season ratings increase does not necessarily mean the sport is on a path back to the days of 2001 and '02, when a combination of factors -- Fox's entrance, increased expansion to major markets, the curiosity generated by Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash -- sent television ratings skyrocketing. And it doesn't mean NASCAR is without its media challenges, the biggest of which may not be TV, but the increasing number of daily newspapers that have axed staff-generated coverage of the sport. With profits dropping in that industry, racing with its $200-a-night hotel minimums is an expensive and easy beat to cut. The infield media center at Bristol never seemed as empty as it did last week."
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Here's a link to last Friday's Arizona Republic notebook, featuring Paul Tracy:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/0320racingnb0321.html


If you missed it, please check out my new Business of Racing video commentary (on the future of the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class) on 1320tv.com:
http://www.1320tv.com/dialed_in/article3.asp?vid=2-20-08/bor_psm&title=Michael%20Knight%27s%20commentary%20on%20the%20state%20of%20the%20Pro%20Stock%20Motorcycle%20class

This is a "must read" on ESPN. Great reporting by Sports Business Journal:
http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/58375


[ more next Tuesday . . . ]