Monday, June 16

High Point 3

Two theories always collide in this sport:

Theory 1: This sport grew based on the dominance of McGrath/Carmichael

Theory 2: To really grow, this sport needs competition and multiple winners.

How completely polar opposite can those theories be? We all say the sport needs good racing, but in reality we say it because that's what we want. Good racing solves all problems. Weekends are fun when there's a battle, and they're not as fun when there isn't. Everything else is just background. I always feel bad for people I know in this industry who work so hard to make better events, but all they can do is make 10% of the event better. Great racing is 90% of what people talk about.

And this High Point National didn't off up many action-packed battles. The facility looked awesome, the track drew raves, and I know our crew worked hard to make it happen. But Stewart and Villo OWN it right now on the track. The only highlight of the afternoon was either A) Matt Ware getting stuck in the mud (see below) or B) Ryan Dungey going OFF on J-Law in the press conference (See Racer X Motocross Show). Otherwise you just knew Stewart and Villo would take off, and they did. that really bad? We spend a lot of time and effort generating local press for this event. The local TV stations came out, the local newspaper wrote about the event, and the local radio station hung out all day on Saturday. And you know what's good? You can make any local reporter or fan an expert just by saying "You want to watch #1 and #7." On Saturday, I had to do some of the interviews with the radio station, and the DJ they had there running the show knew NOTHING about motocross. But he was an expert, instantly, by just saying "We've gone from the Carmichael era to the Stewart era." How long did it take for him to memorize that? 15 seconds? And then when the fans came to see the show the next day, that's exactly what they saw, the Stewart era.

So our sport is accesable to the casual (read: new) fan this way. that good?

After wrapping up another great day bench-racing with David Bailey, DB said "People love watching Stewart ride. TV needs to show that. Show Kobe. Show Tiger. Show James."

Good point...but. Here is why dominance looks better in basketball or golf than in motocross. When Kobe is on fire, he's hitting big shots with defenders all over him, and the game is still in doubt and he's making clutch shots. It's exciting to watch. Stewart jumping a double while all alone out front is not the same as Kobe hitting a huge three with two defenders on him. Stewart may win by 50 seconds and Kobe may score 50 points, but think about the difference in the excitement in watching those two accomplishments.

As for Tiger, all golfers are out there by themselves, so you can't compare. If motocross was all time trails, and everyone rode the track alone and did lap times, James would be like Tiger. But when there are 40 other guys and he runs away, well that's not the same.

What's my point? Still not sure, and I'm not sure anyone else is sure, either. We need dominance but yet we don't. Dominance is boring to the masses but makes it easy for the masses to follow the sport. Dominance is good and yet bad.

I don't know about these theories. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I want to see the most talented rider on the track, even if they do dominate.


peelout said...

domination is a good thing. even in motocross. every one, whether they admit it or not, wants to see the best guy absolutely KILL it. it's only after the t0t@1 pwN@6e that everyone gets up in arms about needing closer racing...
i used to love watching MC smoke the field. i used to love watching RC smoke the field. i'm getting used to Bubba waxing everyone, and i love watching RV decimate the comp.

great blog yet again weege.

yamalink said...

On a related note, I think motocross needs an underdog. Right now there isn't one. Yeah, Hamblin was something to talk about, but now he's a "sure thing" to get top 10. There could be a story within the Stewart/RV story. Making that possibility more interesting would be to root for an underdog to kick #7's butt, but Stewie has such a positive attitude that the fans are backing him. If he was a jerkwad then maybe, just maaaybe, 800 would be the underdog even with his past, and we'd tune in each race to see if today was the day #7 didn't win.

Good job on the media not pointing the camera at #7 and #1 all moto long. While the "battle for 18th" is somewhat tongue in cheek, at least the names are mentioned and the camera goes back to the battle in 5th, 10th, 18th.

I dunno. Right now the sport is in a win-win with hardcore fans and cluess mainstream media/future hardcore fans.

A different Jason said...

When McGrath had his supercross win streak going and it made national sporting news (including Sportscenter), it was huge.

It undoubtedly elevated the sport to higher levels because at that time it was simply unheard of.

So alright, we've got more eyeballs watching so now what? Well it just so happened that McGrath went to Suzuki the following season and couldn't seem to win so there was a lot of drama.

In fact, we had 7 different winners that year (Albertyn, Henry, Emig, Huffman, Lusk, McGrath, Windham).

But then a few seasons later comes Carmichael who demolishes the record books. Yet it goes largely unnoticed in mainstream sports coverage. And now even James Stewart, the Tiger Woods of Motocross isn't able to bring in a lot of outside attention either.

I think that for this sport (or any other sport, for that matter) to grow, you've got to have your star and his adversary. People need to at least think there's a chance that the hero won't win.

I hate to say it, but look at NASCAR. Would they have built the huge following they currently enjoy if it weren't for all of the close finishes they've had? Funny how all that mysterious debris on the racetrack shows up when someone builds a big lead. Better throw a caution!

But imagine if every race had Jeff Gordon cruising across the line at the end while waving to the fans. Would it really be as big? Would the NASCAR fans really be so excited to go?

Holeshot726 said...

Ya but think if someone did beat James Stewart or Ryan Villopoto. These guys are bionic to many of us and they probably seem unbeatable to most riders out on the track as well. Every rider on the track should have a goal, whether it is a top top 3, top 5, top 10, or even quailifying for the event. everyone has there own goal and this is what allows for success. But what about the top runners who's goals have been conquered, what do they do? Next is the unthinkable and that is beating #7 or #1. This is a championship within a championship, and if anyone can beat them strait up that is something to be proud of, therefore dominance is good and shall only motivate the others to become just as dominant themselves.

Gio: said...

Good point, Weege.

I say dominant riders such as Mcgrath, Carmichael and Stewart help motocross becoming more popular with the mainstream media because there they provide news-worthy information (i.e. a single rider's dominance).

On the other hand, tighter competition makes for more entertaining racing. For example, in Glen Helen the average fan found the Lites class offered a more entertaining show than the Motocross class, even though the true fan appreciates Stewart huge lead.

To sum it up: we need dominance to bring people to the races and in front of the TV. But in order to keep the newcomers and leverage on the word of mouth, we need to provide the new fans with surprising events such as other riders stepping up and challenge the leader.

Anonymous said...

We don't like dominance when we have it and would miss it if we had none, but a motocross race isn't a race without dominant riderS. Period.

Clash said...

Were the nationals better last year without Stewart or the fact that 4 or 5guys could have won the title?

The dichotomy between dominance and competition has played itself out many times in our sport and it will again survive this obvious disparity in speed. As a fan, I respect dominance, but would always rather see a good race.

Gio: said...

P.S. Look at the difference between Stewart and Villopoto's dominance in the AMA Nationals and the World Championship having a different winner for each round of the series in the MX1 and a 3 men show in the MX2 class. The dominance of one single rider (Cairoli, Stewart, Villopoto) usually heighten the level of the competitors too. We already see it in the MX2 class of the World Championship and we saw it this year in the Supercross class and in the Supercross Lites East: not sure when we'll see it in the Nationals, though.

Crush said...

It's pretty simple really Weege...

Why have we not just realised that James is in fact, not from this planet and hence docked him 45 seconds at the start of the race?

Just make him late, turn his fuel off, start him backwards... think about it, we could do somethin different every week...

James is still fast enough to win and I am sure he knows that, so he wouldn't ride over his head, and then it would just be like in 03 04 watching him on the 2 smoke come through those 250effffssss....

seriously, he's not a real person, make the freak earn it! hahaha....

borat said...

my sister is a prostitute.

Anonymous said...

I see it on three levels - you have the racer in us that can appreciate any rider out there and what they are doing on the track. The unreal riding of Stewart all the way back to the 40th place guy that could smoke all of us.

Then you have the fan who rides but maybe doesn't race who wants to see close action or crashes, something to get excited about.

Then there is the body at home. I think they want to see the human side - the personalities. I can't sit thru a single Nascar race in it's entirety - I get bored. But for some reason I recognize most of the names. It's marketing and being marketable. MC and Stewart have personalities that come across on the tv.

Sure....#7 and #1 waxed all of them, but look at the headline from the weekend....Dungey in the press conference !

I think it boils down to this, our sport is unique. Because of the risk, the effort, and the cost only a few will ever appeciate it. It's hard to convert someone to share the same passion as you do. How can you explain to an outsider how bitchen motocross really is unless you do it yourself. It's a participatory sport.

I look at it like this....I walked into my doctors office not too long ago after being landed on by my buddy. I told him I needed to be ready in a month because I had to race. He asked why I was so crazy to want to get back on a bike. I explained to him, you know, you gotta wonder what the heck your missing knowing I want to get back out there.

MIKE D said...

Your standing on the fence and James pulls some move like jumping over Davi, or doing some crazy combo that NOBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD can do. Your jaw drops and you shake your head, you turn to your buddy and say WTF?

That is why I have no problem with domination it is simply "jaw droping" to witness!

Villopoto will race with James next year, tansition will be smooth with the extra lights year and Im guessing 20-25lbs since he first turned pro. So, dont worry youll get your racing next year.

drew said...

imagine if RC didn't want to race NASCAR and Reed was given Langston's or Hepler's bike. there are people out there who could challenge Stewart. it's frustrating that 2 out of the top three fastest riders in the world aren't out there, though i totally understand why.

i guess i'm with mike d.

yamalink said...

Maybe the same thing could be said if 7 wasn't there. Alessi would be winning by James-like margins over 2nd. This topic would apply to 800.

Anonymous said...

sometimes their is going to be good close racing and sometimes not. You have to appreciate it when you get it. I think what is more exciting is when you can connect with a rider's personality then you are glad when he runs away with the lead and root for him win or lose. Maybe a preseason rider profile show would be good.

Peter & Heidi said...

Where can I find the interview that Dungey gave at the press conference when he was bashing on Lawrence? I see that you said to look at the show, but where is it? Is there a print version available? Thank you for your help.
Also, dominance is boring but I love to hear that Villo and James are blowing away the competition. I think the solution is to have the best guys have to fight for the win.

Englishman in S.D said...

The Bizarro domination would be that ANYONE of the 40 guys rolling up to the gate could win.
Isn't that better ? How much harder is that to explain to a new fan?
Scenario 1 ) " O.K , Dude, #7 is gonna ruin everyone".
Scenario 2) " O.K ,Dude , these guys are all so bad ass they are gonna ba all over each other 'til the checkers falls. It'll be like a bar room brawl on motorcycles".

BTW If you can get Dungey & Lawrence at the preshow table at the same time next round I'll buy you as much beer as you can drink.

steve said...

It'sd a mix. Saw Texas on tv today, at least Villopoto had to grind through the pack for his win in the second moto...

Hey - did you see the PR for the Redbull X-Fighters? Twitch used the word "omnipresent!" haha. sure. From

After being forced to concede defeat in the final, Stenberg paid respect to his Swiss colleague. “I am disappointed because I made a mistake, but I have to congratulate Mat,” Stenberg said. “He risked everything and deserved to win. The motto ‘Everything’s bigger in Texas’ was omnipresent here and this hard course has left its marks on all the riders.”

Jason Weigandt said...

Thanks for all the help, gang. You made blogging life easy by just doing the work for me.

Omnipresent? There's no chance he said that.

yamalink said...

Omnipresent. Reminds me of that old "In Living Color" skit where the prisoner uses ginormous words totally out of context.

To facilitate the properly masturbatory inner workings of said...I digress...external complicatory regulations would require an omnipresent presence.

rocky said...

Whether or not having a dominant rider is a good thing totally depends on your opinion of the rider that is dominating. McGrath is my favorite rider of all time. I never got tired of watching him win. I was sick of Carmichael and Stewart before they even made it to the pro ranks because they've been hyped to death since they were 5 years old. Ricky was too damn grumpy and Stewart's dancing and clowning didn't win me over either. I loved the Nationals last year because Ricky only did a partial season and Stewart kept gonging himself so the title was totally up for grabs. Watching five or so guys fight for the top spot on the podium every week (not to mention the championship) was a blast.

Billy Sharff said...

I feel this topic/question is definitely one of the biggest questions, if not the biggest question in our sport. Why can't a sport as exciting and as popular as supercross and outdoor motocross "grow" to its full potential. You talk about the track being perfect and every element is there for it to happen and with all the promotional people working so hard to bring in the outside attention that our sport lacks.

Yet somehow with what Carmichael Mcgrath and Pastrana have done making household names for themselves and getting the sport to where it is today. We still have to wait a week to watch the nationals on National TV. We've had some success with supercross and some live productions but its just not there yet.

Is it just boring watching one guy win all the time, well every passionate bench racing motocross fan love to watch what James, Ricky, and Villopoto can do on a motorcycle but for the average sports fan flipping through the channels each week and seeing the same big bold number 7 half a track a head, he just turns the channel. I cant tell you how many times I've invited my co workers/ family or friends to watch the races and on Monday morning when I asked them what they thought they simple shrugged and said "ya its cool but the same two guys always win" (referring to RC and James of course )For me I think motocross is on the verge of really excelling and being one of the most popular sports out there for sure.

Both theories have there advantages, of course we owe tons of credit to what Ricky and MC did for our sport. You think golf would be half as popular without Tiger, no way but everyone still wants someone to challenge Tiger every once in a while or its just plain ol boring golf. The ratings for the U.S. open last weekend were unreal, why because the 158th player in the world took Tiger to a 91st hole sudden death playoff. The same applies to motocross, ya we love having a guy as amazing as James Stewart but for us to have the growth we all want and see live coverage on ABC instead of some stock cars going in circles or the national indoor basket weaving championships, we just need more excitement. Its bad enough we have to wait a week to watch the T. V. coverage and by that time we've all watched to Internet coverage and lap times and already know the results. Do you think anyone would watch the NBA finals with Kobe or Lebron if we knew who won by the time the game aired, hell no. I've watch ESPN classics and the games arent half as good when you know who won the game already.

We just need better T.v. production, live T.v coverage is the first start. Than going back to the whole cox/Bauer debacle from Hangtown. I can see why James got so upset and I think it was one of the coolest things when he stood up at the press conference and set everything straight , and I think it shows how much James has matured and what good hands our sport is in from here on out. James was right, anyone's gonna flip the channel if the media reporters are making it out that James has no competition and he's just beating any average racer but he's not. He's beating Davi Millsaps, Alessi, Ferry Townley need we say more. You could even go outside the top twenty to a guy like Shaun Skinner, Skinner shows up at a local race around here and kills everyone and everyone's amazed but, Ralph Sheheen and Jeff Emig never say anything about how talented any other riders its always the same old bio on James Stewart or Ryan Villopoto and that's why people turn the channel. Would I watch Tiger play if I thought he was playing with no competition? no way but I understand how difficult it is just to become a professional golfer on a mini tour, much less earn a PGA tour card. I think the same applies for Motocross a lot more people are going to tune in if they understand the blood sweat the tears that your Millsaps Alessis Dungey's, etc endure to make it to the level they are at. The sacrifice that is involved from a family perspective to a financial point a view , its huge. Those are the things that I believe will draw growth from an outside perspective. Sure we can just keep hyping up Stewart and RV and maybe talk about Dungey Alessi every other broadcast and we'll keep the same attention from the Die Hard passionate motocross fans, but we'll keep the same level of growth as well.

Ill probably stop rambling on now but this topic definitely caught my interest and I wanted to voice my opinion, glad I signed up for these blogs.

One more thing you talk about with the second theory and ill ask for some feedback and see what everyone thinks. Maybe we do need multiple winners as well and we may not have that this year with the dominance of RV and Stewy but im sure the bench racing has begun for A1 as we anticipate if Villopoto can run with Stewart. Imagine if Carmichael could've held on for 4 or 5 more years now that Stewarts in the zone and Villopoto coming up throw in a healthy Ben Townley. Wow talk about "Growth" move over Nascar. I'll keep dreaming and just have to settle for watching the number 4 go around in circles.

Billy Sharff

rocky said...

I think the main problem with the Nationals is the quality of the TV production. Ralph Sheheen is just all manner of lousy: Boring, repetitive, talks only about how wonderful Stewart is, and doesn't seem to have hardly any knowledge of the sport. Emig is just kind of there. He doesn't add a whole lot and mainly just answers the really dumb questions that the Heener throws out. That British dude is awesome. He's lively like Eckman used to be and his enthusiasm occasionally rubs off on Emig.

I can't believe that it's been around for as long as it has and they still can't figure out how to make the helmet cam work, or at least how to use it properly.

I don't think a one hour show is enough either. I don't really have a problem with them trimming a lap or two worth of footage, but they really need more time to add some extras to the program: More rider profiles/interviews, training footage, visits to the riders' homes, etc. Otherwise the majority of the guys are faceless because unless they make it onto the podium, they get absolutely zero TV time.

A different Jason said...

I agree with the helmet camera comment. HOW IS THIS NOT PERFECTED YET? It was pretty good 13 years ago when MC wore it at a few Supercrosses.

That Josh Hill GoPro camera footage they used at Freestone was absolutely terrible.

I felt embarrassed for our sport when that was on the screen.

yamalink said...

To touch on the commentating adding to the sport's appeal... was watching a recent GP race, you know the ones that show on your local underground cable right before/after "So You Wanna Fight?" Anyway, they let the race go as-is with full sound like you get in NAPCAR, and no commentating. It was surreal just watching. I felt like I was on the side.

Then some things happened and I had no way of knowing why the second place guy wasn't there cuz there was no commentator(s) to bring it up. The camera just focused on the #1 rider.

Now, I don't know if the camera follows the commentators, but I think to the average joe, a guy like Ralph is needed to direct the camera or to ask what we feel are moronic questions.

Gosh, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but when I "accidentally" tune into the Westminster Dog Show, I'm glad there a snooty commentator telling me about the damn dog. Otherwise I'd think it was just a fluffy mutt being jogged around by an English widow with cankles.

As for mx, get Fro, Bailey and Langston in the booth!

MIKE D said...

This just in:

Billy Sharff needs a new keyboard, he just wore his out on one blog post!

Anonymous said...

Yep, watching basketball is boring, no matter what. Seeing Stewart, or anyone else all alone, 30 seconds ahead, is exciting to anyone that's been there before!
~Been there, done that.~