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NASCAR President Mike Helton Says League
Using Fan Input To Improve The Sport
TRACKING CHANGES: Helton said, "Some of the filtering process takes a while and qualifying what we do and how we get to the point of doing it takes us longer than even we would like and certainly fans or the other stakeholders would like. But I think the big message today is that NASCAR itself and the stakeholders ... are listening and trying to adapt." Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Hart wrote there are "three things NASCAR does right." NASCAR has a "willingness to change," it "produces the tightest racing in the world," and the league "takes safety seriously." Hart also listed "three changes NASCAR should consider." NASCAR should "shorten the schedule," limit teams to "four cars only" and "give more incentive to win" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/8).
PERSONALITY TEST: In Orlando, Tania Ganguli notes drivers during last year's recession had "become afraid to be themselves." In an economic climate "where sponsors are cutting their budgets, drivers didn't want to offend corporations." NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps: "The sponsors are in a little bit of a box, too. They want to make sure their brand is being represented as well as it can be. Having a driver that's a good corporate citizen is important to them." NASCAR has "spoken to six to eight major sponsors about how an emotional driver could benefit them." Phelps: "What we did was let them understand you want your driver to show emotions, you want your driver to be himself. There are certainly boundaries to that but keeping them in tight box is not the best for the driver. ... If the driver is just going to be vanilla, always have that corporate speak the fan base will start to dissipate." Drivers also are "trying to determine those boundaries," as some brands are "more receptive to bold personalities than others" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/9).
Patrick Will Compete In Her First Nationwide
Series Race Saturday At Daytona Int'l Speedway
CENTER OF ATTENTION: In N.Y., Richard Huff wrote Patrick racing Saturday is "terrible news for everyone else in the race." If Speed's telecast of Saturday's ARCA race is "any indication, the other drivers, win or lose, will be an afterthought." Speed's coverage was "so targeted on Patrick, that the broadcasters occasionally had to remind themselves there actually were other drivers in the race." Huff: "Given the way the ARCA race revolved around Patrick, Parsons made a wise investment in sponsoring Patrick, provided, of course, fans don't get sick of the ongoing fawning in the TV booth to the detriment of other drivers" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 2/8). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford writes, "The Danica phenomenon is just another lowest-common-denominator example of American marketing. Women can get just as much credit as a man, but, uh, only if they're good looking" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/9).
Writer Calls Smith Radical
Departure From Upshaw
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: SI.com's Ian Thomsen wrote of NBA labor talks, "The truth is that no one can be sure what the negotiations between owners and players will bring. As much as many owners may wish for a hard cap with no allowance for a luxury tax or other vehicles that provide extra money to players, a hard cap will include aspects they won't like. For one thing, it will be harder than ever to make a trade if every team's payroll is bumping up against the impenetrable ceiling of a hard cap" (SI.com, 2/5).
SNOWED OUT? MLS and the MLS Players Union had a CBA session scheduled for tomorrow in DC, where the union is headquartered, but it may be postponed due to the severe snowstorm there, according to a source. The MLS CBA expires on Friday, after which time players could strike, the league could lock them out or the two parties could agree to continue bargaining. The agreement was originally set to expire on January 31, but both the union and the league agreed to extend it until Friday (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).
BUILDING THE SCHEDULE: The number of LPGA events this season is down from 34 in '08 to 25 this season, and golfer Paula Creamer said of rebounding from the lost events, "It's all about the sponsors and the relationships we have with them. If you don't have sponsors, you don't have events. I feel like those relationships have been hidden under the radar, whereas they need to be more of the 1-2 priorities in our commissioner's eyes." Creamer said new LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan "understands the corporate world," and his vision "seems right on track with what" the tour needs (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/8).