by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.October 27, 2009 11:04 am UTC No Comments
Twice in the past week on-air personalities at ESPN have made light of NASCAR, its fans and in one case a driver.
ESPN paid dearly for the rights to broadcast NASCAR’s top two series and tell the stories of Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and the rest. They have exclusive broadcast rights to the Nationwide Series and have the most coveted portion of the Sprint Cup Season. ESPN has the rights to broadcast all aspects of the second half of the Sprint Cup season–including the “Race to the Chase” and the “Chase to the Cup”.
ESPN also broadcasts college football. Its college football coverage takes precedence over its racing coverage. It always has and it most likely always will. Race fans have come to expect that when football and NASCAR bump into one another; its the NASCAR coverage that gets moved–either to another ESPN property or its start time delayed.
What NASCAR shouldn’t have to accept is the total disrespect it receives by its stick and ball oriented personalities. It has been well documented over the past week about Bob Greise’s comment toward Juan Pablo Montoya. During a NASCAR promo on a football telecast that Greise worked; one announcer asked where Montoya was, when discussing the top five drivers. Greise’s response was “Out eating a taco”.
Greise apologized–twice–on air during the telecast and has been suspended by ESPN for one game. Greise’s comments may have been more insensitive than mean spirited, but does show the lack of respect that NASCAR garners from its broadcast partner.
To add more insult to the NASCAR on ESPN week; Mondays morning Sport Center broadcasts included highlights of the Sprint Cup race won by Denny Hamlin. The highlight package ended with the comment by ESPN’s anchor saying; ” Now for those of you north of the Mason-Dixon line…”; this within days of Greise’s gaff.
It would seem it is an acceptable practice at ESPN to demean NASCAR, its drivers and their fans. If it is not deemed as acceptable, it would not continue to happen. It leaves fans wondering how NASCAR is perceived at ESPN’s offices. If on air personnel are not respecting NASCAR it may be because they are carrying down the disrespect they hear from their bosses around the office. Employees tend to take on the attitude of their superiors. If NASCAR coverage is looked down upon by ESPN’s hierarchy then it is no wonder that the trickle down lands on air.
This week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW asks:
Does NASCAR and its coverage get the respect it deserves from its broadcast partner–ESPN?
Let us know what you think and we could use your comments on this weeks ON PIT ROW radio show. Listen live every Tuesday from 5-7pm ET. Call the show at 1-800-465-2946 and you could win a Kevin Harvick bobblehead as Shell’s Nitrogen Enriched Call of the Day.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media