The month of February plays host to what arguably may be the two premier sporting events in North America, possibly even the entire world. Either by coincidence, or just pure sports junkie luck, both the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 find their way into what otherwise would be just another dismal winter month.
This coming weekend, more than 64,500 fans will flock to Ford Field in Detroit to witness Super Bowl XL. Then, a mere two weeks later, nearly four times that many fans will descend on Florida for the running of this years Daytona 500. Combined, the two events will draw more than 300,000 fans, or twice the population of our fair city. Both spectacles are the crown jewels of their respective sports.
One of the main differences between these two icons of the American sporting world is the way in which each sport chooses to schedule its main event. After a 17-week regular season schedule, followed by three weeks of playoff contests, the NFL ends its season with the grand finale. NASCAR, on the other hand, opts to open its season with the biggest event of the schedule. Time has proven both decisions work.
Beyond this glaring difference, there are numerous similarities between the two giants…
Both invest millions of dollars in marketing their products, and both have lucrative radio and television contracts with more than one network.
Their competitors are made up of teams, even though the main cog of that team comes down to one person, either the quarterback or the driver.
Fans of both sports show their support and loyalty by shelling out bucket loads of cash, not only attending the events in person, but also buying everything from clothing to salt and pepper shakers emblazoned with their favorites drivers number or favorite teams logo.
There are magazines and newspapers totally devoted to the coverage of every nuance of every team, both football and racing.
Each sport has its share of superstars. Mixed in with those superstars are the personalities the fans love to hate. Sometimes, those lines get blurred. But I suppose it is up to the individual fan to sort through it all and make his or her decisions.
Thats another one of the things that makes both sports so appealing in general. One fans Tony Stewart may be anothers Jeff Gordon or, you might like Terrell Owens or you may not.
Im sure there are several other similarities between the two, but you get the point.
Whether youre a huge fan of the Steelers or the Seahawks, or if youre like me, and dont really have an allegiance to either, you just love football, and you know its going to be the last game until next September (not counting the exhibition games both in Hawaii and the preseason), or you prefer to cheer for Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Sterling Marlin, Kurt Busch or even Kyle Busch, February is the month for you.
While it may be cold and miserable outside, get a fire going in the fireplace, put on your favorite team or drivers gear, call your fellow fans, friends and family together to come over and watch the game and/or race, and remember, its only a matter of six weeks until Americas so-called pastime begins.
Doug Halberstadt is a local resident and is track announcer at Rockford Speedway. He can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Feb. 1-7, 2006, issue