I wrote last week that to avoid a situation in which an NBA star misses a game, I’d reduce the schedule. I’d reduce it from 82 games to 72. Would that be feasible? Sure.
When I was in college, analytics had yet to be invented. But somebody who finds numbers compelling can figure out how to make a 72-game schedule work. She or he can't, however, touch the playoffs. I want best of seven from the first round to the finals. An early best of five series would cheat teams out of proving who is better and cheat fans out of drama and excitement.
▪ I also wrote that NASCAR should reduce its schedule. But I wasn’t specific. If I’m NASCAR, I still start the schedule in February, with the Daytona International Speedway festivities in the middle of the month and the first Cup race near the end.
After the Super Bowl, February is quiet. The NFL has concluded and major league baseball is out in the sunshine warming up. One of the inducements to driving to Daytona Beach for the 500 is stopping at spring training on the way back.
NASCAR’s mistake comes at the other end of the schedule. The season doesn’t end until teams return to Florida’s Homestead-Miami Speedway in mid-November. That’s not a season. It’s an odyssey.
Life is tough enough for NASCAR in terms of TV ratings and attendance without going against the NFL.
I end the season at the end of August. Football starts when NASCAR ends.
▪ I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if NASCAR ends its season two months earlier than it does now Danica Patrick will have fewer opportunities to win.
I don’t think Patrick will ever win a Cup race. But she’s been good for the sport. When people look at a sporting event (or a TV show) they want to see somebody who looks like them.
I was at Daytona in 2012, when Patrick made her Daytona 500 debut, and again in 2013, when she won the pole. The latter became the Danica 500, and some drivers resented the hype.
Others brought their young daughters to meet Danica. The daughters asked if they could.