SBD/Issue 132/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL Schedule Change Could Pressure NASCAR To Move Daytona

If NFL Season Lengthened, Daytona 500 Date
Would Likely Be Changed
NASCAR and Fox Sports officials are in a "wait-and-see mode before commenting on what NASCAR would do" if the NFL lengthens its regular season, but it "seems likely that the date for the Daytona 500 would have to change," according to Bob Pockrass of NASCAR SCENE. Under proposed NFL schedule changes, the Super Bowl could move to the Sunday prior to the third Monday in February, the same day as the Daytona 500. ISC Senior VP/Marketing & Business Operations Roger VanDerSnick: "I don't think I can make a definitive answer to (changing the date), but I would have a hard time today seeing how that would work for everybody -- working for the media partners, working for the sponsors that we share and quite frankly, working for the fan and the consumer base." Pockrass noted if there are "any thoughts of trying to run the Daytona 500 on the same day as the Super Bowl, NASCAR and ISC likely wouldn't have a willing customer in one of their most important customers -- Sprint," which also sponsors the NFL. Sprint Dir of Sports & Entertainment Marketing Steve Gaffney: "If we end up in a position where the two marquee events for both sports are the same day, then we're going to have to start asking questions about are we able to extract the best possible value from both sponsorships." Gaffney added he would have a "hard time believing that would be beneficial to a partner in both sports" (SCENEDAILY.com, 3/26).

PACK IT UP: CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Pistone wrote NASCAR will have "no choice but to rearrange its schedule if the NFL does make these changes, and it actually might not be a bad thing." The scheduling conflict would pit the Super Bowl against the "Super Bowl of stock car racing, and despite NASCAR's popularity, I think we all know how that one would play out." But moving the Daytona 500 schedule "back seven days or so really isn't that big of a deal." If the NFL takes a week off "between the end of the playoffs and the Super Bowl as it has done in the past, sliding Daytona into that vacant hole could put NASCAR in even a bigger spotlight" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/25). ESPN's David Newton writes NASCAR could shorten the season if the Super Bowl goes into mid-February. Newton: "Cut it back to 34 or even 32 races. Cut Speedweeks at Daytona from two weeks to one. Run the Budweiser Shootout on Wednesday, the qualifying races on Thursday and the big show on Sunday. Take advantage of this situation and do what fans and even some drivers have been asking for" (ESPN.com, 3/27).

A LOT TO THINK ABOUT: In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane noted more NFL regular-season games "means more revenue means higher salaries, which is good for the players, but also means more injuries, which is not so good." While an 18-game regular season "results in a balanced schedule, 17 games would necessitate each team playing a so-called neutral-site game," which could mean "more games in Europe and Mexico and perhaps even a handful in big college stadiums" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 3/26). ESPN’s Trey Wingo said the NFL likely feels February “is an attackable month.” Wingo: “The Super Bowl never used to be played in February. … The NFL feels like, ‘Hey we can attack this month, we can own this month like we own (August-January), and probably a good part of July and April with the Draft.’” Wingo added that an 18-game schedule “is more of an opportunity for us to cover it even further, if that’s possible at ESPN.” He said as a fan, the idea of "two more chances to see your team play is freaking awesome” (ONTHEDLPODCAST.com, 3/26).

NOT THE BEST IDEA: CBSSPORTS.com's Gwen Knapp wrote there is "no acceptable tradeoff" for adding regular-season games, not even eliminating preseason games. Knapp: "No matter the concessions, most of the players lose." The players "believe that their bodies can't take much more abuse than they're absorbing now," and if the schedule increases from 16 to 18 games, an "eight-year veteran in that system will have absorbed about as many NFL hits as a nine-year veteran of today." Knapp: "It's wonderful that the NFL passed four new rules to protect player safety this week. But any owners who favor two more full-on games are cavalierly dismissing the dangers of routine hits" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/26). ESPN’s Jim Rome noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "said that adding a game or two provides them an opportunity to ‘grow the game.’" Rome: "I think you’re confusing ‘grow the game’ with ‘make more jack’” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 3/26).

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