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National pastimes

Don Rogers

I thought there was something funny about all the coverage of NASCAR, especially in USA Today.

The founder of the paper, Al Neuharth, lists the total attendance last year in these sports: baseball, 76.3 million fans paid to see games; NBA, 22.9 million; NFL, 21.8 million. And there’s NASCAR, all of 13 million paying fans.

Yet the car races attract a ton of newspaper coverage, along wiith radio and television attention. Me, I can’t turn the page or change the station quickly enough.



Ah, television. Maybe that’s the root of this devil’s work. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston points out in reply to Neuharth’s column that the car races trail only the NFL as most popular sport on television. I’m not sure I buy that.

And I guess we’re not counting worldwide wrestling whatever as a sport here. More people supposedly watch that nonsense than any of them. How is that? Have you ever met anyone who watches men “wrestling” in costumes?



I know lots of guys who watch football, baseball, basketball, hockey and golf. Even some who watch soccer.

I’ve only met one person in my adult life who watched TV wrestling. So how can that rank at the top of any TV rankings, ever?

Surely I know people who follow NASCAR, but I can’t think of any. It’s not a topic of discussion like, say, March Madness. Sorry to bring that up. Did anyone who actually follows college basketball win a thing in their pool? Answer: Nope. Just girlfriends who closed their eyes. Alumni of weird schools you never heard of, who then just had a feeling this year about UCLA and even more strangely, the University of Florida, who beat the Bruins for the NCAA championship. Way more crashes here than NASCAR.



By the Neuharth test, baseball still reigns as the national pastime. That’s cool, since it’s been our game since before there were cars period, never mind to race.


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