- Jan 5, 2009
From his Backstretch Blog:
Sweetened Tales Help Make Sure Some In The NASCAR Media Don't Hurt Any Feelings
By Shawn Courchesne on January 8, 2010 9:01 PM
Ten minutes of listening in and you would have thought Reed Sorenson and Casey Mears were the second coming of Richard Petty and David Pearson.
Yes, a mere 10 minutes had us wondering if we had been watching the same Sorenson and Mears the past few years as the afternoon hosts had Friday on Sirius NASCAR Radio.
It's an issue that has long plagued the coverage of NASCAR in general, but something that has only been magnified in the past couple years as more and more traditional media outlets have cut back on their coverage of the sport.
Earlier this week it was announced that NASCAR Scene, the only racing paper devoted exclusively to covering NASCAR's highest levels on a week-to-week basis, would exist no more. Gone with it were a number of journalists who had long covered the sport full-time and brought to the media landscape objective and fair journalistic voices.
Those objective voices have been disappearing by the handful over the past few years. What's been left behind is a landscape where now some of the most regularly heard voices "covering" the sport in a lot of ways offer up a coverage style that can hardly be termed "objective".
With fewer and fewer traditional media outlets covering NASCAR on any regular sort of basis these days, Sirius NASCAR Radio holds a spot as a powerful medium in the landscape of NASCAR coverage. It's a 24-hour open pipeline of NASCAR talk.
And while we can deem the hosts professionals in their line of work, more often than not many of their oh so syrupy sweet takes on so many topics and aspects of the sport can make one shake their head in wonderment. It's a love affair seemingly like no other seen between a professional big league sport, the athletes involved and the media outlet covering them.
And it's a world where failure is absolutely accepted without analysis or even question. In a 10-minute span on Friday the afternoon hosts on Sirius brought up both Sorenson, who lost his Sprint Cup Series ride with Richard Petty Motorsports after last season, and Mears, who it looks like we'll be out of his Richard Childress Racing ride this season.
The overall opinion offered by these professionals concerning both drivers was that race fans haven't really had the chance to see just how supremely talented both drivers are, that someday both drivers will be battling at the top levels of NASCAR again and that the problem is that neither driver has found the right situation just yet to let their supreme driving talents translate into success, but that it will happen in time.
How about just saying that neither of them is really all that good as a Sprint Cup Series driver? Would that be so hard to do? Why are they afraid to say it?
Well, we know why, it's that syrupy sweet love affair between that realm of many in the electronic motorsports media and the subjects they cover. But it's sad that listeners have to be subjected to the inflated tall tales from people they think of as the experts covering the sport they love.
There's nothing expert in saying that Mears just hasn't found the right situation to be successful. This is a guy who has struggled through stints with three of the top organizations in the sport.
Let's face it, you listen to sports talk radio for a few weeks and if Joe Quarterback isn't getting the job done for the local pro gridiron boys you're going to hear about it, loudly. You're going to hear that he's playing bad, you're going to hear why he's playing bad, you're going to get expert analysis on how he can improve the situation.
On Sirius the expert analysis so often for almost every failed driver is that they were in the wrong situation. It's never the driver's fault. Unfortunately they take advantage of the culture of motorsports where there's always a built in excuse. Driver A has a bad day, well he can blame the equipment, or blame the pit crew, or blame the team owner or blame a lack of finances for the organization.
Ever notice how a driver's bad day is usually never his fault? The setup was missed or they never really found it in practice or they just can't do it being so underfunded. And then we have Sirius to take all those bad days and roll them up into bad careers that they make sound oh so lovingly just on the brink of something so darned great.
Sorenson has spent the last four years competing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series. In that time he has five top-5 finishes and 14 top-10 finishes in 145 career starts and has never won a race. He hasn't finished better than 22nd in the Sprint Cup Series standings. Mears, in seven years of racing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series for car owner Chip Ganassi, Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress, has one victory and 12 top-5's in 252 career starts.
The numbers tell a black and white story of two drivers who simply weren't talented enough to get the job done at the Sprint Cup Series level, plain and simple. It's too bad that so many fans have to hear the people they think of as experts coloring that picture into a story that stays sweet as candy just to make sure nobody gets their feelings even just the least bit hurt in the garage.
Pretty much says it all.