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Sunday, February 12, 2012

FILLING THE VOID

This past weekend marked the annual transition on the American sports scene. The NFL -- the dominant U.S. sports league -- wasn't playing after a record-setting Super Bowl. What to fill the void?

Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Pebble Beach stepped forward. If all you paid attention to was ESPN, well, you would have thought the only game in town was the NBA. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The "Association" is the most over-covered sports league in this country. The fact that an unknown New York Knicks' player -- and it meant everything it was a New York guy -- had one good week was good timing for the All-Basketball-All-The-Time crowd. It took about five seconds for the shallow Jeremy Lin-Tim Tebow comparisons to flow from the media "experts." There was some baseball "hot stove" league chatter, involving the New York Yankees.

NHRA started at Pomona. It's only the first of 23 races but I have a growing sense of dread that this year's marketing philosophy is based on giving reverse gear a try. No one is going to convince me parking Larry Dixon for Khalid alBalooshi is good for the sport. Ditto Melanie Troxel on the sidelines. I'm as interested as everyone else in how Courtney Force races (look for my story on Courtney in this Friday's Arizona Republic), but she can't be expected to carry the Full Throttle series on her own shoulders. The print version of the all-important media guide was discontinued without consulting with the media and now we find out the live streaming on ESPN3 ain't happenin'. It does not bode well for a successful NHRA season, despite John Force's win to open the campaign.

NASCAR was on the sidelines, having moved Daytona back to avoid a potential Super Bowl conflict if the NFL had gone to an 18-game schedule. That changes this week as pre-Daytona 500 activities rev-up. Brian France is hoping something as headline-making as Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the pole will happen again this year.


Here's a link to my February "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column on CompetitionPlus.com: Drag racing doesn't need any more John Forces --
http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/news/20111-commentary-only-one-john-force-needed


Good News (for a change): A print version of National Speed Sport News will return March 23 as Speed Sport Magazine. The rights have been acquired by Turn 3 Media LLC, consisting of my friend and well-known broadcaster Ralph Sheheen (who will be publisher), Curt Moon and former Speed TVer Joe Tripp. Mike Kerchner returns as editor.

The
http://NationalSpeedSportNews.com website continues. Print subscriptions are $24.95 with a digital edition for $12.95. Good luck and great fortune to all involved.


Mark Armijo and I will be covering this weekend's NHRA Arizona Nationals for the Arizona Republic, starting this Thursday. Look for my feature on Courtney Force Friday and my Q&A with Jack Beckman Sunday. If you're not here (100 years as a state) to buy the newspaper, check us out at AzCentral.com.

[ more next Monday . . . ]