This guy, code named, Mad Mikie is a contributing writer for a blog named Laidback Racing and he recently wrote a scathing article about Dale Earnhardt Jr and how he is the "Cash Cow" for NASCAR, how Dale has NASCAR in his back pocket and how NASCAR wouldn't dare suspend him for "actions detrimental to the sport" because of the backlash from the "Red Army" that would result in the loss of subsequent revenue in ticket sales, souvenir sales and so on.
He sees the popularity of Earnhardt and NASCAR's capitalizing of it as a problem. Mikie sees that Earnhardt has worked his way into every facet of the sport, that you can't watch a race without seeing his face everywhere, and that the coverage of him is one-sided compared to other drivers.
Well Mikie, here is how I see it. NASCAR would get along just fine without Earnhardt. How you ask? They would just focus on another driver like Kasey Kahne for example. Every sport has a super star, and super stars make money for their sport as well as themselves. Let's look.
Hockey had/has Wayne Gretzky. No matter who he played for whenever his team came to town the home team's ticket sales increased - why? Because he is a star. Why did the Coyote's hire him as a coach? Because he is Wayne Gretzky and fans will pay to see "his" team play.
Football has Brett Favre. This man is playing for a loosing team right now and they are still popular and there are increased ticket sales wherever he goes.
Football has the Dallas Cowboys. Even when they are losing they are winning in merchandising and ticket sales. Why do you think the owner took Terrel Owens? Because he is a good player, no because of the hype around him would generate interest in his team. Why did he hire Dion Sanders back in the 90's? Skill, no - Neon Dion was past his prime. It was to sell tickets.
What about Baseball? San Fran still has Bonds despite the negative publicity because he still hits the ball well and he generates ticket sales.
How about Soccer? Beckham is a star of the Wayne Gretzky caliber in England and he generates ticket sales everywhere he goes - why? Because he is that good and entertaining.
Basketball has Iverson. Can you name 4 other players for the 76ers? Unless you are a 76er fan I don't think you can. Iverson uses basketball to get his endorsements, like Reebok. He makes more money off his endorsements than basketball, yet if he doesn't play his endorsements are gone. Who has the control? The NBA. They can get along just fine without Iverson. Iverson needs them.
Do you think Dale Jr would get all of his endorsements if he weren't a NASCAR driver? I don't. Who can take all that away from him? NASCAR. Who has the power? NASCAR. NASCAR can easily find and market someone else to take Jr's place on the popularity meter.
NASCAR is no different than any sport and they will suspend or fine Dale if they had to. Just look at the "Don't mean s*#%t" Talladega Victory Lane interview that cost him 25 points. He could have lost the Chase over that as he was still mathematically in the hunt at that time.
So Mikie get off your high horse and look at the real problem with NASCAR, its not the super stars like Earnhardt and Gordon, its small minded people like you who only see the sport through its past and not its future. Mikie states that Dale Earnhardt "could very easily get away with raising questions and concerns and not have to worry about the repercussions of it. But will or would he is the question? Jr is the one person inside the NA$CAR "family" who could bring about the downfall of King Brian and possibly give us a return to real racing instead of the highly orchestrated racer-tainment we're served up week after week."
Dale Earnhardt is but one man, and if he were to severely rock the boat NASCAR would quiet him - contrary to popular belief NASCAR still controls NASCAR. If NASCAR is so afraid of Dale and the racing is highly orchestrated racer-tainment then why was Brian Vickers allowed to keep his victory and not penalized, with the trophy going to Dale Earnhardt?
If we have a return of racing to the days of old then all you are going to see is about 5 drivers lap the field countless times with one of them coming out the victor. How do you think Richard Petty won 200 races? Because there were only about 5 cars that could win and dominate the race. Now NASCAR has at least 20 - 25 capable cars that could win on any given day. I mean Richard Petty won what, about 27 races in one season back in the 60's. Is that what you really want to see? By bringing about parody, NASCAR is creating more chances for more people to win.
Dale Earnhardt does not control NASCAR and he can't bring it to its knees either. Do NASCAR and Earnhardt have a symbiotic relationship? They sure do, they economically "feed" off of each other. Every sport has their super stars, they are needed to bring out fans and to get them to watch the events on TV and to capitalize on through merchandising - but the sport is bigger than the individual. Look what baseball did to Pete Rose. Baseball survived, and where is Pete now? Not in the Hall of Fame that's for sure.
Weblog Awards 2006
If you haven't voted for Full Throttle as Best Sports Blog and Samantha Burns as Best Canadian Blog please do so now. They are getting my votes daily, and they deserve yours too. Go here to vote now!
Dale Jr Contest
My contest is officially closed. I like to thank all of you who took the time to enter, I've had some "interesting" enteries. I will announce all of the winners tomorrow.
If you didn't get a chance to enter my contest, have no fear as one of my fellow Bloggers is still running his Dale Jr Contest. Visit Stephen at Regeneration for your chance to win.