• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

LEARNING FROM THE 'WOW MOMENTS'

We've seen some more "Wow Moments" recently, as Brian France famously called them last year. If you take yourself past the immediate emotions they evoke, however, there are things to be learned.

WOW! You didn't have to be a golf fan to find Phil Mickelson's final round in the British Open to be really exciting. His joy, and that of his family, caddy and even the ESPN announcers came through Loud and Clear. That was real Reality TV. LESSONS: The pompous R&A executives would make terrible racing sponsorship managers. Only arrogance would lead them to willingly give up the "British" (links-style golf) branding in favor of their "The Open Championship" name. I don't think Formula One will be changing the British Grand Prix to "The Grand Prix." Also, word is Mickelson's $2.16 million for winning both the British and Scottish Opens is subject to over 60 percent in U.K. taxes! Gotta pay for that new prince, I guess!

WOW! Baseball had what I'm figuring will be the first of several unfortunate ones by suspending former MVP Ryan Braun. Daily media speculation about A-Rod (and others) followed. Maybe baseball's sad history of PED use has dulled the senses of some, but to me, it was attention getting. LESSON: Public, media and political pressure (remember those congressional hearings a few years ago?) can result in change. Otherwise, I don't think baseball's extremely powerful players' union would have agreed to the level of drug testing that now is routine. But they had no choice. The pressure to do so, and the threat of congressonal action, was too great.

WOW! Detroit went bankrupt. Honestly, it should have happened years ago. When I lived outside Detroit while working for CART from 1980-1983, I observed at close-range the fiefdom Mayor Coleman Young established for himself and his cronies. LESSONS: The city, in any way we once thought of it, is forever finished. No Super Bowl or race weekend will ever change that. And, if I were a conservative (not necessarily Republican) candidate for any elective office in America, every speech about the economy would reference the damage done by Democrats, liberals, union leaders and tax-and-spenders over six consecutive decades in the Motor City and include these words: "Just look at Detroit."

WOW! NASCAR returned to the dirt at Eldora and while I don't think there were any individual "Wows" I'd give the event as a whole one. Mike Helton said he was attending pretty much as a "fan" and I get that. I enjoyed watching. LESSON: Unquestionably the biggest dud of the night -- and honestly, this wasn't a surprise to me given his attitude -- was Scott Bloomquist in the otherwise ultra-competitive Kyle Busch-owned Toyota.

WOW! NASCAR left long-time network partners ESPN and Turner behind for billions from NBC and NBC Sports Network. Cash aside, there is no doubt ESPN lost favor in Daytona Beach over the years by seeming to treat the Nationwide series as as bother rather than the "diamond in the rough" it claimed that property to be when the rights were first acquired. And de-emphasizing NASCAR Now. LESSONS: Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN mean ESPN is no longer unchallenged with the ability to lay down "take it or leave it" terms. And, while it's still popular in various media and fan circles to criticize NASCAR, the simple fact is NASCAR is where the money is in American auto racing. P.S. 1: It was crap for certain IndyCar officials to claim the NASCAR deal proves how smart they were (actually, it was an entirely different group of people) to sign with NBCSN. It was Versus back then and unless they were able to offer proof of knowing all those years ago that Comcast would take over NBC and rebrand the cable network, I, as an interviewer, absolutely would not have let them get away with that bogus line of BS. P.S. 2: How will ESPN's loss of NASCAR affect NHRA? Here's a link to my breaking news analysis column on CompetitionPlus.com, posted last Wednesday. (Followers on @SpinDoctor500 saw this first) --
http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/news/25848-michael-knight-how-espn-losing-nascar-could-affect-nhra

Wow! WOW! Ford withdrawing from NHRA pro racing after existing contracts expire following the 2014 season. That's the biggest news of the week and -- there's no spinning this one -- a vote of No Confidence in NHRA's short and mid-term ability to sell sufficient product to justify the investment. LESSON: If the Ford news, combined with an alarming number of empty seats at National events, and the alarming decline in TV audience doesn't result in major changes within NHRA, a lot more people and companies will be losing confidence in the sanction, too.

[ more next Monday . . . ]