Saturday, June 14, 2008

All Eyes On Allen Bestwick Tonight From Kentucky


This certainly has been a fascinating NASCAR season for ESPN. After changing the on-air line-up of both the network's studio and at-track announcers, ESPN has been on a huge roll since February.

As most fans know, ESPN covers the entire Nationwide Series. ESPN is, as some folks say, the "TV network of record" for that series. Originally struggling for some good racing and fresh-faces, the Nationwide Series had begun to take-on a personality this year.

Joey Logano has arrived and Brad Keselowski faced-off with a Cup driver. Hard-working guys like Mike Wallace and Marcos Ambrose began appearing on NASCAR Now and putting the series back into the public eye.

Saturday night from Kentucky, all eyes will be on the series for a very different reason. The allegations made in a recent discrimination lawsuit do not talk about the Sprint Cup Series. They do not point to the Craftsman Trucks. What the very powerful words do is simply take direct aim at the very NASCAR officials running the Nationwide Series and call them racist and sexist.

Suddenly, into the middle of this storm steps Allen Bestwick. He will be hosting the thirty minute NASCAR Countdown show on Saturday night at 8PM Eastern. Bestwick is the new face of ESPN's NASCAR coverage and has been the most high-profile announcer all season long.

The story of Saturday night will be the lawsuit. Seated alongside of Bestwick will be Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. While Wallace is a team owner in the Nationwide Series, it will be the words of Daugherty in prime-time on ESPN2 that will be heard with great clarity.

Daugherty created the NASCAR Diversity Council with Brian France to help promote greater opportunities for people of color and women in the sport. Now, several years later, a professional college-educated black female has slapped the very sport Daugherty encouraged her to participate in with a huge and very personal lawsuit.

While Daugherty had only several minutes on Friday's NASCAR Now to comment, he will have thirty minutes of pre-race and then the entire race on Saturday night. As most of the American public knows, how sanctioning bodies and TV networks handle this kind of awkward and sensitive issue is going to be very important.

NASCAR has a business to run in a very tough economic climate and ESPN has a series to cover that has been dismal in the ratings for years. Cup drivers beating-up on Nationwide regulars has been the story of this entire division. Now, just when things were starting to change, an off-track issue threatens to dominate the coverage.

SPEED chose to avoid this issue like the plague so far this weekend and shows like NASCAR Live, Trackside and Tradin' Paint did not even acknowledge that the lawsuit had been filed or that the NASCAR media was full of stories about the issue.

It might be Allen Bestwick's best moment of the season, or it might be another well-coached public relations exercise. ESPN can decide to come down on the side of NASCAR as a television rights-holder, or step-up as a sports TV network that professes to be the leader in worldwide coverage.

NASCAR Countdown will begin at 8PM live nationwide on ESPN2.

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34 comments:

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

I expect Alan B to be the professional that he has always been over the years. Both he and Brad and Rusty can and should handle this for fans of the sport. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Why is the stupidity of a couple individuals a reflection on NASCAR? That is just silly.

I am so sick of this finger pointing and huge opportunities to cash out from the comments from a couple of idiots.

It is not a reflection of NASCAR, it is not an example of "the way things are". It is a few idiots with no manners with no class and personal issues . The situation should be viewed as such and handled in a manner that reflects the truth in this situation.

I do realize that there is a strong need to build this into a HUGE event and point as many fingers as possible. This is the current state of affairs in the modern media and court rooms across this Country.

The individuals who are proven guilty of such verbal comments, should be held personally responsible. Everything else is just a grandstand for people to cash out and point fingers and provide news media. I am sick of the current race wars in modern times. If there are hurtful words spoken, let the individuals face the music, lose their jobs and take 100% of the responsibility.

Why is there a 250 million price associated with these presumed comments? That is how screwed up things have become.

bevo said...

I agree that the issue needs to be addressed in the pre-race but once the green flag drops I hope that the race itself is the focus.

I have no idea, nor does anyone else, about the actual specifics that make up this civil lawsuit. That's what the courtroom is for. Neither side can get into the details in public. This will be a very long process, years and years.

jfs-va said...

anon at 10:40...amen. Couldn't agree with you more. I'd love to hear someone on one of these NASCAR shows make a bold statement like that.

I wonder when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will showup. No doubt they would love to exploit this.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:40, how do you know the harrassment problems are limited to a couple of stupid acts? Isn't it more likely we need to wait until the facts and depth of the problems are determined in court.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:40AM,

Perhaps you could take a moment to read some of the links on the site.

These were not garbage men or dock workers. This was the manager in charge of the entire Nationwide Series for NASCAR, a senior manager.

To even try and blame "the media" is a ridiculous cop-out. If that was you on the other side of this issue your views would be very different.

It is very obvious that the only reason you are "sick of the race wars" is because you are a white male who does not have to deal with these issues.

This is clearly the biggest story of the year for NASCAR. If you do not agree, just wait a bit. I am no babe in the woods on these issues.

Did you read Lee Spencer at Fox Sports? Did you read Yahoo? Did you even take five minutes to read the lawsuit itself?

NASCAR needs to go into full problem solving mode and speak to this issue in a public forum and then handle the legal side.

If there was ever a time when the transition of the late Bill France Jr. to his son Brian was about to be put to the test, this is it.

Either this issue is going to be put to rest shortly and some changes are going to be made or this sport is going to have a long way to climb back to credibility.

JD

Anonymous said...

What exactly do you expect SPEED and ESPN to say about the lawsuit JD?

jfs-va said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

This is the first time since ESPN came back into the sport that something like this has come around.

You can see from SPEED the approach they have chosen, and this afternoon we will see how the TNT guys handle it.

The Nationwide Series is an ESPN property for multiple years. ESPN has an entire division that is dedicated to news, not programs or events.

We are not taking sides, merely watching a couple of big media companies deal with an on-going story.

JD

jfs - no more comments like that please.

bevo said...

jfs-va-

Please look up the definition of a straw man argument.

You brink up Jackson and Sharpton yet you are doing the very same thing you accuse them of. I'm not taking a side, just pointing out a logical fallacy.

Erik said...

If the TV guys don't want to touch this directly, give a call to the journalists in the print media. I've read plenty of articles that indicate the newspaper writers have done their homework, know the sport, and aren't afraid of speaking out like the TV media seems to be.

An "Outside the Lines" roundtable discussion would work well.

Daly Planet Editor said...

erik,

That is exactly what we are watching. The different dynamic between the reporters on the Internet/print and the TV networks is pretty interesting to see.

We are just media watchers, and our opinions and comments are about the media and not the pending legal action.

Since NASCAR Now already focused on the issue, Bestwick should be able to use that and put it in the correct perspective.

JD

Anonymous said...

"It is very obvious that the only reason you are "sick of the race wars" is because you are a white male who does not have to deal with these issues."

Speaking as a black man who grew up seeing his fair amount of racism, that kind of comment is exactly why race is such a big deal anymore.

The ignorance of a few doesn't need to become the ignorance of many. I'd prefer that everyone became sick of the race wars instead of constantly making it a big issue.

That's not a comment on the lawsuit itself, mind you. I feel it is perfectly warrant, although a bit too expensive, but I don't know what the precedents are in such cases.

Getting a bit more on topic, I really hope that there is no real discussion on air. A mention is fine, but it's impossible to frame the situation without some sort of bias. Well, maybe not impossible, but close to it.

The worst thing that can happen is for a NASCAR show to air a piece with too much bias either way, thus giving people who may or may not have all of the information the wrong idea. It doesn't matter what is eventually said, what matters is the initial word.

As a pro wrestling fan, when the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide tragedy occured, the media all jumped on a "roid rage" story, and that is what the public remembers despite everything coming out to the contrary (brain damage/insanity from too many concussions, I believe).

The last thing that needs to happen is too much reporting on a lawsuit that is so sensitive to too many people. The media today is known for immediately casting judgment on a situation, and that will do nothing to help.

That said, I believe shows like NASCAR Now are the place for discussion on these type of things. Leave the race broadcast (and pre-show) for the race.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:25PM,

I think that exact type of discussion is underway at several different TV locations around the nation right now.

Shows like RaceDay, NASCAR Now on Sunday morning, Wind Tunnel and SPEED Report are going to have to flush-out how to deal with this issue.

The event group producing the races has made their statement today. Both the Cup and Truck Series have ignored the story, effectively pointing the viewers to the Nationwide broadcast tonight on ESPN2.

Thanks for the comment.

JD

Anonymous said...

"These were not garbage men or dock workers. This was the manager in charge of the entire Nationwide Series for NASCAR, a senior manager."

I am fully aware who these people are, they need to accept full responsibility if they are proven guilty.

"To even try and blame "the media" is a ridiculous cop-out.

Tell that to Steven Pagones and the Duke Lacrosse team.

"If that was you on the other side of this issue your views would be very different. "

If I was on the "other side of this" you mean falsely accusing NASCAR and suing for 250 million? You have proven my point, you are not only taking the Politically Correct stance in this matter, but have attempted to speak down to me in my opinions, as if you are on some moral high ground. It is the mindset that you have displayed that is the real cancer.

"It is very obvious that the only reason you are "sick of the race wars" is because you are a white male who does not have to deal with these issues."

Very Obvious? Are you for real? In this day and age I can show you places that you can deal with race no matter what color your skin is. How do you know what issues I face on a day to day basis? This problem is everywhere. I have a few streets that I would like to see you walk.

I also know that taking a level approach in this day and age is a losing cause. Just as you summarized for your readers, the guilt has already been cast along with your personal smear. Good thing NASCAR has the money to get to the bottom of these allegations.

Anonymous said...

I've made the same post on another item here, apologies for my redundancy:

The leap from the middle of the sports pages to the mainstream news cycle is about to happen. Everyone in Nascar need take not - I work in then "mainstream media." The Website the Drudge Report, iconic in the world of news and bookmarked on every news agency computer in New York, Atlanta and Washington has a link to the Associated Press story about the indecent exposure allegations.

If ESPN wants to handle this correctly, I would suggest they take the unusual step of bringing in someone like Bob Ley or Jeremy Schaap, who do this sort of story for them in all forms of sport.

Daly Planet Editor said...

anon 3:46PM,

That is exactly what I expected to happen. The news group and the studio show group are different at ESPN and have different managers.

It should be interesting to see if they can get together and get this out into the mainstream.

Anon 3:44PM,

You are seriously trying to draw a parallel between this and the Duke Lacrosse case? Seriously?

The comments you continue to make show you to be a person with huge issues and I hope you get help.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Hopefully some in the media learned from the Duke Lacrosse case to base their reporting on facts, not presumptions.

Daly Planet Editor said...

richard,

That is the point. The TV guys will point the camera at anything that talks and the real journalists will take their time and deal with the truth.

The problem right now is a classic, and that is not knowing.

Nothing drives the media crazier than that.

Anonymous said...

JD, I tried to to in to ESPN right now for qualifing and all ESPN channels are black or have color bars. What is going on???

I am on COX in San Diego. This is effecting the regular channels AND the HD channels.

Anonymous said...

I should add, this is only effecting all ESPN channels.

Spring Rubber said...

Same thing here on DirecTV. Something must have gone horribly wrong at ESPN Master Control.

Anonymous said...

OK I have an update for COX in San Diego. ESPN and ESPN2 Standard non-HD versions seem ok but are choppy. But all ESPN HD channels, ESPNEWS and ESPN classic are black.

Anonymous said...

Expect that virtually nothing will be said on the air.

Remember, sports "reporters" are essentially fans, especially the TV-types, and they have a very difficult time addressing negative issues when it comes to their sport.

By the way @10;40, read the lwsuit before you try to coment on it. It is a very big deal, whether you like it or not.

I'm curious how you seem to know the lawsuit is full of "false accusations."

Newracefan said...

East Coast has Black for HD channel also. SD OK. I'm Comcast

Anonymous said...

no issues with any coverage on the east coast and we are having terrible thunder storms

Newracefan said...

HD ok now but do not know when it was fixed

Daly Planet Editor said...

No problems from Comcast. Perhaps a sun spot? Just checked my recording, no trouble.

Newracefan said...

JD I have Comcast near PA and my HD was also black for some time at least. The SD was fine. As far as the coverage of qualifying goes I am not too happy. No TIVO, the cars are staying in that stupid box for the entire run.

Daly Planet Editor said...

nrf,

It is pretty bad...even with Marty. There is just no energy like with the Trucks. Its tough.

SophiaZ123 said...

this coverage is bad with so much JUNK on the screen. Heading out to listen to Dixieland and taping the race...will check here before watching to see what I missed. :)

I MISS having the cars be the only thing on the screen for qualifying.

Kyle B calling Harvick a 'big mouth' ?! and Kyle saying he's 'sorry' is NOT sincere...but he is not mister sincerity. Ugh.

Enjoy the race folks.

Anonymous said...

It's qualifying. I mean I never expect anything exciting.

Vicky D said...

AB and others might say that a lawsuit has been filed but they have "no comment" on it at this time.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is now a new post up for the Nationwide Series race from Kentucky. Thanks.

JD