by Tom Weppel
This week there will be three sporting events that will receive quite a bit of attention.
After a couple of weeks of racing on various levels, it all culminates on Sunday when the Daytona 500 cranks up. In many ways, it is the one sport where the premiere event to the whole season is held at the beginning of the year, instead of the end.
For this race, we see two interesting drivers manning the front row. On the pole will be Mark Martin, who, at 51, is there for the first time in his career for this race. Martin has almost had a resurgence, for all intents, coming off his results from last season.
Then, on the outside, we’ll see Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who has been under quite a bit of scrutiny and criticism for his lack of success, especially last year. Dale, who now is sporting a scruffy beard, is trying to essentially make a comeback, even though he consistently stays among the most popular drivers in the sport, mostly because of his pedigree.
This year, the race will be held under slightly different conditions, compared to last season. The cars have been allowed to open up the restrictor plates in the engines, which is giving more speed, and hence, more racing abilities. In the past, the cars have almost formed a circus-like parade for about 450 miles, then getting into one huge wreck with about 15 laps to go, messing up the whole scene.
The cars are also showing off a spoiler wing on the back, which has not been done previously. This should also allow the drivers to better control the cars and get more out of them.
Last years’ champion Jimmy Johnson is starting in Row 2 on Sunday, even though he is driving a back up car, due to a wreck earlier in the week. It will be interesting to see how Johnson does, and if he continues his winning ways on the circuit.
It will be also interesting to see what the attendance will be like, with the economy still affecting many NASCAR fans, and their spending ways.
Should be a good race, as it always has been in the past…
NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND
The NBA will hold its annual mid-season All-Star weekend in Dallas, inside the Cowboys Stadium. Its expected a crowd of close to 90,000 will attend the game, which is crazy, if you think about it. People up in the upper reaches of the stadium will only seem to be able to watch the huge video screens to follow the game, because there’s no way they can watch the players down on the court.
Before the game is played, the Dunk contest and the three-point shooting contest will be held, on Saturday night. While there will be no ‘name’ players participating in either event, it does make for entertaining stuff for fans to take in.
Then the game will crank up on Sunday night. This year, they will play without the services of Kobe Bryant, who is trying to rehab from an ankle injury he suffered a week or so ago.
The All-Star game is played with a whole lot of offense, and not much defense. It doesn’t seem to be a very competitive contest, but at least it gives fans a chance to see their favorite players perform all on the same court.
WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
The Games will open up in Vancouver, British Columbia, just north of the United States border near Seattle. They will go on for two weeks, with all sorts of events taking place.
The main story for these Games so far has been the lack of sufficient snowfall for various events that obviously need snow to work off of. The warm climates have made for limited snowfall, and so officials have had to imports snow from various areas, simply to fulfill their needs. It has been a crazy situation, to say the least.
The other story being followed involves female skier Lindsay Vonn, who has been trying to deal with a shin bruise on her leg. The bruise has hampered her abilities to practice and participate, and so it will be interesting to see if she is able to get out and perform when needed.
For the Canadians, this is a chance for their own participants to come through and win a gold medal on their own soil, which has never been done before in two previous Games…1976 in Montreal, and 1988 in Calgary.
Of course, the main group gathering significant attention in the Canadian hockey team, which has a great roster of NHL players. If they can pull out a gold medal, it will set the whole country into celebration.
In the meantime, there are a number of Americans looking for medal wins of various sorts. The Games will be broadcast on NBC and their family of networks, which include CNBC and MSNBC. Bob Costas is the main host, with Al Michaels doing work during the hockey games, as he did quite a while back.