SI.com's Lars Anderson wrote five weeks into the season, it is "clear that the buzz is coming back to NASCAR because the close, compelling racing on the track has ramped up the intensity of the drivers and led to feuds like" that between drivers Tony Stewart and Joey Logano at Auto Club Speedway on March 24. However, there are "other reasons why TV ratings, which have been falling for years, have been up in four of the five races" of '13, including the "curiosity about" driver Danica Patrick. NASCAR also has "benefited from the continued emergence" of Dale Earnhardt Jr., as it is "always good business for NASCAR when there's an Earnhardt running near the front." But the "biggest reason why NASCAR is surging right now is because of the high quality of the racing" (SI.com, 3/29).
LUCK OF THE IRISH: In Dublin, Greene, Crowe & Ryan noted although NFL U.K. Managing Dir Alistair Kirkwood was "reluctant to commit to playing an NFL game" in Ireland, he "didn't rule it out if the fan base grows." For now he would "like to have more TV exposure in Ireland and hopes to develop better broadcast relationships with Irish TV stations in the near future." The NFL "rolled into town" March 25 "complete with" three Vikings players and a couple of Sky Sports analysts. It was a "fact-finding mission" for Kirkwood (INDEPENDENT.ie, 3/31).
TENNIS, ANYONE? In London, Neil Harman noted tennis is "preparing to go Twenty20 with a blast of quick, made-for-television sets starring the best players in the world." The event is "backed by the wealth of princes and governments across the Middle East and Asia and is to be installed by the end of the year." The inaugural league will "be played from late November until just before Christmas, with players criss-crossing Asia, as matches are played on a home-and-away basis." The "salary band for each team is likely to be set between" US$4M-$10M (LONDON TIMES, 4/1). The London DAILY MAIL noted Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are "among the leading players being lined up." Roger Federer "cannot take part this year due to a clash with his exhibition tour in South America but could sign up next year if the league proves to be a success" (London DAILY MAIL, 4/1).