Unless I’m mistaken , NASCAR’s regular season schedule has now come to a halt. And we now have the final-four postseason races for the 2009 season , that ends with the sport crowing its Sprint-Nextel Series’ Cup champion. And for all of the hoop-lah created by the sport and its fans. The tension that they’ve tried to build up has been about as suspenseful as being read the story of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. And while I don’t doubt the immense popularity of the sport across the country and seemingly across various demographics. It’s easily recognizable that the sport has now reached its zenith in terms of its popularity domestically. Now as the sport’s hierarchy seeks to further its presence on the global front. We’re led to believe that the sport can gain some further traction and resonance with a new-found fledgling of true budding NASCAR fans.
Juan Pablo Montoya of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing .
It has done its very best to lure the ever growing Hispanic market into the fray and with the popularity of Juan Pablo Montoya -his accessibility and the fact that he’s qualified for the final stages of the postseason. It bodes well for Brian France and Mike Helton , who oversee the sport under the NASCAR banner. And though it would be doing NASCAR a disservice in being critical of in their drive to lure fans of ethnicity and in particular the African American race within the sport. It’s been something of an uphill battle for the sport’s hierarchy thus far. They initially went about this haphazardly .Albeit , that they now have NFL star Randy Moss , who’s competing in NASCAR , as an owner in one of the lower echelons of the sport- the Truck Series. He’s had some semblance of success within the series and his fervor and passion for the sport hasn’t gone unabated. His Randy Moss Motorsports team has been at the forefront of NASCAR’s drive to lure the fans of color to the sport. And in particular those of the African American persuasion. And at the same time NASCAR also has its very own diversity program in place- which is proving to be something of a success .
As I alluded to earlier NASCAR went about trying to lure the African American fans with about as much aplomb as as would be befitting a group that they’ve been oblivious to in recognizing their many contributions to the sport over the years. And it most certainly didn’t initially help their cause when the interest shown by former NBA star Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson was summarily brushed aside with their feigned interest in Johnson’s wish to enter the sport as an owner. Communications and PR wise it was an immense blunder on NASCAR’s part. But they’ve learnt from those mistakes and continues to do their utmost to make all fans welcome to the sport.
As to NASCAR’s winding down to its regular season schedule and the upcoming postseason events. Well , there’s been about as much excitement created-as that of watching paint dry. Granted, the sport has its colorful cast of characters. But in all honesty , without its most popular Dale Earnhardt Jr not competing in the postseason. The ensuing events will create about as much excitement as watching a performance of Britney Spears or Ashlee Simpson lip syncing to one of their odious pop songs. The fans of the sport will no doubt tune in for the events as they take place and even in this dire economic climate. The faithful fans will turn out in some quantity to cheer on their very own. But as it’s been widely acknowledged that the sport has been seeing a decline in attendance for many of its events at the Sprint Cup level. The feeling is that some changes will have to be made with regard as to how NASCAR determines it champion in its highest echelon event. They’ve tinkered around with this system since its inception. And yet it has not been to everyone’s satisfaction. Though the drivers have seemingly remained mute on the topic. The fans for their part in general have accepted it up to a point. But there have been those who’ve voiced their displeasure as to the competitiveness and veracity of the system.
There was a case at one time, where one could state unequivocally that Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most dynamic athletes in the NBA. In his younger years the fifteen-time All Star was also viewed as a dominant and some might opine an athletic individual. Nowadays, that would most definitely be the furthest thing from the truth. O’Neal, never one not to allude to his own perceived greatness. In truth however, over the last five years , he’s been doing it all with smoking mirrors. OK, it’s agreed he’s won with Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. The latter of whom, made a much greater contribution in the Miami Heat‘s effort to win its only NBA championship-than O’Neal,, himself, is prepared to acknowledge. Granted ,he made the guarantee to the Heat’s fans that he’d secure them a championship. But having done so, he outstayed his welcome and inexplicably became something of a pariah amongst the fans and organization in Miami.
Shaquille O’Neal takes on the NFL’s Ben Roethlisberger and tries to prove his worth as a football player. Tonight’s episode of his show -you will get to see O’Neal go up against multi- Olympic champion swimmer , Michael Phelps in the pool.
After his sojourn with the Phoenix Suns, where his domicile with the team brought about some excitement amongst their fans. But added very little as to the team’s competitiveness and hopes of making the postseason. O’Neal now finds himself on his way to Cleveland to play alongside the ‘anointed one’ – LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And now there’s the added incentive for Shaq to play alongside James and guide this team to its first win of an NBA championship. It has to have been the primary reason that , the franchise’s owner, Dan Gilbert and GM Danny Ferry made the splash to acquire the player. With the clock ticking on James and his desire win a championship with the franchise . And the very fact that he’s not yet prepared to address his future with the team as to whether or not he’ll stay or pursue his career goals elsewhere. This season will be make or break for the Cavaliers-as well as for both ,LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal in the ring with former world boxing champ Oscar De La Hoya.
Last season’s disappointment of being dispatched by the Dwight Howard led Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA postseason ,was a bitter pill to swallow for James and his teammates. And the thought is with the addition of O’Neal . It will be enough to put the team over the top. But much of that will be predicated upon O’Neal’s wish to be first, a team player and at the same time defer to James. Never-mind that O’Neal’s health and fitness will come into play. And even with his performances with the Suns having been somewhat lackluster. There is the strong belief that this may well be all the motivation he needs to prove the naysayers wrong as to his declining form and zeal for the game. But I for one wouldn’t bet on it. Shaq’s been mailing it in and the whole world knows it ! And the very fact of the matter is , he has been robbing several franchises blind with his antics and his lack of professionalism when it comes to the game !
Now we’ve been regaled with his laughable efforts to prove that he’s an athlete who can perform at the highest levels in certain sporting endeavors. His ABC reality show ‘Shaq vs.’ is about as welcoming a respite as having teeth pulled without the use of novacaine. It’s embarrassing not only for O’Neal but also for the athletes participating in the facade. O’Neal as always , the consummate class clown but even the class clown eventually has to grow up and act with maturity. Something that O’Neal has failed to exude at this juncture. For the athletes such as Albert Pujols, Michael Phelps ,Oscar De La Hoya, Kerri Walsh and Ben Roethlisberger , amongst others. It may well have been fun to be around Shaq and to have participated in the concept. But in actuality unless they were very well compensated by ABC and the thought of raising their profile alongside Shaq was deemed to be necessary. The endeavor has been an entire waste of time. Was there anyone actually watching ? So much so , it’s understandable to me why ABC would want to place this piece of garbage on the network. It can remind us why , we are appreciative of real athletes who can consistently perform at the highest level. Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t done that in years . And that’s why when it comes to the silly season we’re asked to put up with more than the human condition can bare.