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Epic Television FAIL Shockingly Not Racing-related

Yes, Conor Casey will kick your assSometimes, just sometimes, racing fans catch a break – on both Saturday and Sunday, ESPN actually showed some racing. American soccer fans were not as fortunate; while we got the desired result (we’re going to the World Cup!), watching the qualifying game in question was not an option for most. But this time around, we don’t get to blame ESPN.

While it’s possible to give the Honduran soccer federation a pass on some things, given the fact that their country is still in the middle of a coup, their mismanagement of the TV rights is not one of them. Rather than simply sell the US rights to ESPN or another network, they opted to go with the finest 1980s technology and sold the game to individual bars, making it available only via closed-circuit television – and those bars were required to kick back much of the cover for the privilege (after the initial cost to air the game).

While this was a subject of much annoyance to hardcore fans for a number of weeks, it was news to the more casual fan who presumed (and not unreasonably) that their national team’s penultimate World Cup qualifier, one in which they could clinch a berth, would be on television – the #usmnt Twitter stream was filled with invective just before kickoff as those searching for the game in vain were told their best shot was to get to one of a very few bars, pronto, or just follow along on Twitter, hoping to find a pirated stream.

The good people behind the bid to bring the World Cup back to the US in 2022 helpfully set up a search tool so fans could find a bar that was actually allowed to show the game (and it would be wonderful if the NTRA could do the same for major race days – of course, that’s assuming that a bar that showed racing could be found in more than a very few places) – but again, for the more casual fan, it was like being told that the Kentucky Derby was only available to paying customers at a sports bar that might require a long journey – at 5 pm on the first Saturday in May.

By most accounts, the game was nothing if not epic, and may have signaled something of a sea change for American soccer, with the goals coming from players who work their day jobs in Major League Soccer, rather than in Europe (although given that we produce some of the best goalkeepers in the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player like Tim Howard in the US at the peak of his career – we still send them to Europe, and MLS gets them back when they retire from international play).

It just would have been nice to, you know, see it.

Here’s hoping everyone has learned their lesson – and that racing doesn’t get any clever ideas from this.

1 comment to Epic Television FAIL Shockingly Not Racing-related

  • dana

    I also noticed that over the weekend on the NTRA site that they had the televised races listed in the Featured Races above the fold promotion section but didn't indicate that they were televised!

    If you click in to the schedule page it was indicated but it's normally shown on the homepage as well. Fail, no?

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