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SBD/February 24, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Published February 24, 2011
LOOKING FOR CRUISING CONTROL: CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Pistone wrote the business of NASCAR is "off to a rousing start" after Sunday's Daytona 500, and there are "no doubt smiles on the faces of NASCAR and track officials, television and radio executives as well as sponsors." There has been "much worry over falling television ratings and attendance woes and quite frankly if the bubble had burst on NASCAR’s incredible popularity." The sport "needed to come out of the box with the biggest race of the year in a big way." Still, the "lift of the 500 will only go so far." The "casual fans that tuned in and witnessed an interesting and thrilling race at Daytona may surf over to Fox's telecast from Phoenix on Sunday," and it is "up to the drivers to put on a good show" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/22).
THE MORE THE MERRIER? In Houston, Jose de Jesus Ortiz noted MLS announced its new playoff format yesterday and it "seems more in line with other major American sports leagues." This year, 10 of MLS' 18 teams will reach the playoffs. The "top three from each division will qualify automatically," while the "remaining four with the best records will qualify to play a single-elimination play-in game for a spot in the Conference semifinals" (CHRON.com, 2/23).
A BRIGHT OUTLOOK: NBCSPORTS.com's Matt Reitz cited a USA Hockey report that indicates participation in the sport is "exploding in the Sun Belt." North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida are the "fastest growing states in terms of youth registration." There is "no question" that the presence of the Hurricanes, Thrashers, Predators, Panthers and Lightning "only helps plant the seed into children when they are playing sports during their childhood." Reitz: "Take those teams away and the NHL can kiss growth in non-traditional markets goodbye. It’s easy for fans to pick on Gary Bettman for his failures -- but looking at these numbers, one has to wonder if this ever would have been possible 15-20 years ago. These teams are taking hold in their communities" (NBCSPORTS.com, 2/24).