Friday, March 27, 2009

I've Died and Gone to Sports Bar Heaven

It’s the biggest calendar-related news in NASCAR since Darlington’s Labor Day race migrated westward. Maybe bigger, because when the crown jewel is involved, people talk.

As any die-hard sports fan with calluses on his butt knows, the NFL is considering moving the Super Bowl, also known as "the Daytona 500 of football," back two weeks, to accommodate more new games on the pro football schedule.

The “Big Game” would potentially fall on the date of the Daytona 500, traditionally scheduled for the Sunday before the third week in February. (Not to be confused with the third Monday of February, which is Washington's Birthday, or the second Tuesday in November, which is Election Day, or the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox, which would be Easter.)

A possible NFL schedule change probably won’t happen until its 2012 season. But already, sports pundits writing for the newspapers still in business are pushing for NASCAR to move the Great American Race.

Since I’ve been on Facebook all day, I haven’t had a single conversation with anyone at NASCAR about this. I came up for enough air to see the news, and immediately thought, Did I just die and go to sports bar heaven?

With absolutely no inside knowledge because I have a big mouth and who would trust me with anything, I’m reckoning what we have here is the looming, blooming, booming specter of the most spectacular double-header in sports history: The Daytona 500 leading into the Super Bowl.
I hope my TV screen doesn’t burst in all the excitement.

These two action-packed sports have a lot in common. They’re number-one and number-two in ratings, draw the biggest live crowds, and are marked by intricate strategy, violent hits, yellow flags, pomp, circumstance, a heckuva National Anthem, and new commercials. NASCAR and the NFL are made for one another.

Double up their marquee events on the same day, and the other networks might as well go off the air or run a yule log.

I know what you’re asking: What about the Super Bowl pre-game show? Let me ask you, have you met a single person who’s watched the Super Bowl pre-game show?

But won’t the Great American Race overlap with the NFL title game?

The green flag would have to drop at the Daytona 500 a few hours earlier. But the massive exposure produced by the double-header would be worth it. Take Coors Light, the official beer of NASCAR and the NFL. Imagine the gargantuan Coors supermarket displays. Race cars will be flying through goal posts made of Silver Bullets all the way into the frozen food aisle.

This dynamic doubleheader would be an absolute bonanza for Sprint, too. The title sponsor to NASCAR’s premier series and official partner of the NFL would own the day. A company would basically have to rename itself “Thanksgiving” to reap this level of overall branding dominance during a single day on the calendar.

Undoubtedly, dozens of thorny logistical and contractual details lay in the way for scheduling these behemoth sporting events on the same day. I’d bet they could be worked out. I wish I had the time to consider them myself, but I need to get back on Facebook.

Andrew Giangola is writing a book on remarkable NASCAR fans titled, THE WEEKEND STARTS ON WEDNESDAY. He posted this blog merely to get you to read that last sentence, as he attempts to secure a book deal, and the whoring of the entire project begins.