When all is said and done nothing Indycar has done this year will have gotten as much coverage as Dario Franchitti’s crash in the final moment of the Shell Grand Prix of Houston.
Not Tony Kannan’s emotional win at the Indy 500, not Juan Pablo Montoya’s return, not Simona de Silvestro becoming the first woman since Danica Patrick to finish on the podium in a major sport, not the radical schedule re-alignment, not IZOD’s departure, but a wreck. I kept the news on Monday morning as I was studying and clips of Dario’s wreck shown on all the 24 hour cable networks and ESPN. CNN even went so far as to interview a fan who shot, and posted some video. That was probably the most coverage CNN has given Indycar since Dan Wheldon’s death, All of 24 hour networks teased the hell out of the footage too, referencing going and coming from every commercial break during the morning. It made Parton The Interruption, and they never about Indycar, unless Danica Patrick or a death is somehow involved.
The video appeared across the web under headlines like “Horrific,” “Scary,” or “terrifying,” as news sites tried to pimp the video for as many hits as it would garner.
After a decade as a reporter I get it. It’s good video, Dario Franchitti was married to Ashley Judd, people like celebrities, it was a slow news weekend. I get it. They had a hole to fill in the shocking video spot to tease, and Dario’s crash with Takuma Sato fit the bill. It would get eyeballs to look at the screen.
I get it and I still raise the middle finger.
Instead of saying something about the state of the sport it says more about outlets that covered it. ESPN hasn’t had a reporter covering the series in over a decade. Sports radio would rather talk about fantasy football, which is like hearing two gamers talking about playing Grand Theft Auto if we’re honest. But, it had good video, so we had people who only know Helio Castroneves from Dancing with the Stars and Michael Andretti from Celebrity Apprentice talking about Indycar with a, “OMG You have to see this!” breathlessness. The PTI guys talked about how dangerous it is.
If news to do something more than, “OMG ya’ll that’s some scary crap.” Say something intelligent. Have a point of view, and not just an unfunny version of Tosh.O. Maybe even dovetail off of “Rush” which pretty openly says Formula One built it’s name by promoting itself like a blood sport. One of the first things I thought of this morning is the line from Rush where James Hunt says, “The risk of danger turns them on.” Looking at the media’s reaction to Dario’s crash I don’t see where anyone can deny the truth of that statement.
What sort of message does that send to the drivers? That CNN only cares about you when you come close to death? Yeah, they won’t say that, but we all know if it bleeds, it leads.