Saturday, October 31, 2009
Live Blog: Larry McReynolds Speaks Out On Sirius (Updated)
Wednesday evening NASCAR on Fox analyst Larry McReynolds took to Sirius Satellite Radio to speak out in anger on a topic recently in the media.
McReynolds was apparently upset about the quotes used in some recent articles published by veteran NASCAR reporter Dustin Long. Click here for a direct link to this series of interviews featuring McReynolds, Kyle Petty and Jimmy Spencer.
Basically, Long gathered three NASCAR TV personalities together for a candid conversation about a wide variety of NASCAR topics. The articles featured many direct quotes and some comments that may be considered controversial in the very small world of NASCAR.
McReynolds was clearly upset and indicated that his belief was that the negative aspects of the sport were emphasized without the positive being presented as well. The thrust of his comments were that much more was said in the conversation but not contained in the final article.
Dustin Long is the current president of the National Motorsports Press Association. A short time ago, he took his place on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. He is a well-respected journalist who works for the Landmark Newspapers chain. He has almost twenty years of sports journalism experience.
Larry McReynolds got his first crew chief job back in 1985. He is best known for his time with Yates and then Richard Childress Racing. In 2000, he joined the NASCAR on Fox team as an analyst. He now also works for SPEED in a wide variety of roles, including his own program called NASCAR Performance.
Update: Here is the NASCAR response in full:
There's been a lot of chatter about comments made by Jimmy Spencer, Larry McReynolds and Kyle Petty, all TV personalities, about the state of NASCAR. Their words were harsh to be sure. The most common question I've gotten is, "what is NASCAR going to do to them?" Simply, nothing. There is nothing we can or would do. We've long believed in having an independent media. One of the things that makes NASCAR, or any sport great, is debate. That's healthy for sports. However, I have had my share of strongly worded discussions with members of the media when their coverage was inaccurate or unfair. So, it's a reasonable question to ask, were their comments accurate? Were they fair?
Spencer contends that the economy has absolutely nothing to do with attendance. "People will come to events if it's worth coming to," he says. In a sense, that is true and quite frankly I'm damn proud of the crowds we've had this year. By any estimate the average attendance is over 100,000 fans at each race. NASCAR has 17 of the 20 largest sporting events of the year - that's good in any economy. But to think the economy hasn't had any affect is just wrong. Going into the season, more than a third of NFL teams were in danger of having local games blacked out this year because they could not sellout. Those worries were indeed justified, as several games have already been blacked out. In addition, MLB had the biggest drop in ticket sales in 50 years. So, has America turned against all major sports? Of course not.
Spencer also takes a shot at the on track competition, "it's just not where it needs to be," he claims. Anyone can throw out an opinion like that but what does it mean? What's that based on? Take a look at Spencer's career, he won two races in 1994 (and earned more than million in his career). In that year, there were an average of 9.2 leaders per race and an average of 18.9 lead changes with an average margin of victory of 2.85 seconds. Oh yeah, 1994 was the last year when a race winner lapped the entire field. How does that compare to today? There are an average of 10 leaders per race and an average of 18.8 lead changes with an average margin of victory of an astounding 1.1 seconds. Here's what I have to say about the competition today: NASCAR is the best racing in the world, period.
While Spencer made most of the comments, Larry Mac and Kyle seemed to happily agree and piled on too. People like to **** about things and that's fine. Some just like to stir up controversy. But when you are a paid broadcaster shouldn't there be some kind of standard and responsibility for what you say? Could you imagine John Madden complaining about the NFL or Joe Buck telling fans that baseball wasn't worth going to?
Throwing out "controversial" statements isn't "telling it the way it is" or "righteous" if there are no facts and is driven by ego. It's meaningless. Every executive at NASCAR would be quick to say that there is room for improvement. We know that not all fans are satisfied and we've taken steps to improve NASCAR on and off the track. We also are careful to include the industry on all key decisions; that's why we held a Town Hall meeting with drivers and owners earlier this year (and will continue to hold more). We want to be the standard for all auto racing. We're proud of the drivers today and the racing. We want to make it even better and even more competitive.
The real question here is what are their employers going to do? David Hill, the chairman of Fox Sports and Hunter Nickell, the president of SPEED (all three are on SPEED's payroll and McReynolds is on Fox's), are the ones who should be concerned. Fair or not, broadcasters essentially telling the fans to stop watching the races is not a good thing.
It would seem that the last paragraph of this suggests that there should be some sort of suspension or termination over the opinions offered by Petty, Spencer and McReynolds. That certainly is something I have never heard NASCAR say before.
As the day unfolds, we are going to get your opinions on this topic and update any media links that might be published on this topic. To add your opinion on this issue, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for helping us with this topic today.