Saturday, January 12, 2008
Darrell Waltrip "Gives Us The Business"
As we began to address the TV issues that the networks will face in the 2008 season, one of the first topics on the agenda was the NASCAR on Fox coverage of the Daytona 500.
The Daly Planet column about Chris Myers having to deal with the frustrated and disenfranchised NASCAR fans next February drew a lot of great comments and generated a lot of email. You can read it by clicking here.
It also apparently resulted in a column on FoxSports.com by a gentleman who sits next to Mr. Myers in the Hollywood Hotel. His name is Darrell Waltrip, and he was "giving us the business."
In his Friday column, DW addressed the comments fans had left on The Daly Planet that were sometimes critical of Myers NASCAR knowledge. Fans had also pointed out that Myers seems to be constantly "ill at ease" in a racing surrounding, and really does not "fit-in" with the sport.
DW responded that Myers role on the Fox telecasts was specifically to bring that "different perspective." On Myers Hollywood Hotel conversations, DW said "he asks questions and puts things into perspective that we don't consider because he's covered other sports and we haven't. So when we are talking about rules, rule infractions, officiating or any of those things that other sports have in common with ours, Chris can always ask different questions and always have a different perspective."
The focus of The Daly Planet column was that when critical eyes turn to the stellar line-up of TV personalities involved in the NASCAR on Fox coverage, Myers is the "odd man out" by default. The point was made that after the Fox gang leaves the air, NASCAR programming continues on the Fox-owned cable network SPEED.
On that network, veterans like Steve Byrnes and John Roberts continue to work all the races for the entire season. In fact, both Roberts and Byrnes have already been on the air hosting SPEED's pre-season Daytona testing programs. The bottom line is, fans know and trust Byrnes and Roberts.
When SPEED rolls-out the Craftsman Truck Series, fans see the hard-working Krista Voda, who also handles pit reporting duties for the Sprint Cup races on Fox. She is another solid NASCAR host who will work from February through November on this sport that demands so much from so many.
When things are going well, TV issues don't appear. When things are not going so well, the conversations invariably begin. Waltrip says "some of the things he (Myers) does is part of his act, that's who he is and that's part of his act when he gets ready to do these shows." Waltrip continues that Myers "is very good at what he does and we are lucky to have him." Waltrip's points are well-taken.
Unfortunately, they are also naive. What viewers were treated to after Myers part of the NASCAR season was over were one Turner-employed Major League Baseball announcer and one ESPN-employed Monday Night Football sideline reporter.
That made three-out-of-three for the number of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup "infield TV hosts" who were not involved in the sport regularly.
The fundamental problem with that situation is very simple. NASCAR fans are.
The same fans who watched The SPEED Report in the off-season for NASCAR tidbits, checked Jayski.com every day for news, and watched the first pre-season testing show on SPEED are the very ones the NASCAR TV networks desperately need to please.
As we said in our original column, no matter how funny the jokes and how wacky the antics, one truth persists. There is nothing a network can do when a fan turns-off the TV and walks away from the sport. In 2007, one out of every ten fans did just that.
It might be that those fans were just a little bit tired...of the same old act.
The countdown clock at Jayski shows thirty-six days to the Daytona 500 on Fox Sports.
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