There is a lot of complaining on social media regarding the media rules set forth in regards to the Snowball Derby. Many are complaining that it is ethically not fair or just plain wrong.
This is my take as someone who has worked three Snowball Derby’s where I not only worked under Speed51.com, but also with the track itself in organizing their victory lane activities.
First, Speed51.com is entering their 16th consecutive year as the official media partner of the Snowball Derby. They replaced the previous media partner which was…oh wait…sorry…they were the first one.
Prior to 2001, this race was pretty much a regional race that got some local attention, race reports in racing newspapers and magazines, and if time permitted a highlight package on TNN’s Raceday.
Tim Bryant, Promoter of Five Flags Speedway, saw Bob Dillner’s vision of what he wanted Speed51.com to be, that is a website that focused on asphalt short track racing. They both agreed that in order for this goal to be accomplished, they needed to have a signature event each year. That signature event became the Snowball Derby.
Over the last 15 years, both sides have stayed loyal to each other and have built up this event from a regional presence to a national presence. Their partnership has benefited both sides.
Speed51.com has evolved this event through their Trackside Now, live play-by-play blogging updates, to a live internet radio broadcast, then a few years ago being the outlet to provide the first ever live television style coverage of prestigious short track Super Late Model race.
Can anyone disagree or deny this?
Both sides, the tracks and Speed51.com, has seen benefits.
The track now has a national audience and more interest, to the point to where they are selling tickets at a much faster pace, camping space is selling faster, and they have been successful at getting financial help from the county department of tourism because of the economic impact the Derby brings into the area.
Speed51.com, along with being an original short track media site that includes a wide variety of interests that includes a news website, live PPV broadcasts, driver public relations, and more. They have maintained their position and continue to be a strong website to this day.
The partnership between Five Flags Speedway and Speed51.com in regards to the Snowball Derby has been so successful, that Speed51.com has been granted some special privileges for the event. Some of those privileges are the ones that many are complaining about on social media today.
Some are saying that Five Flags Speedway is hurting themselves by restricting media from doing live play-by-play social media updates and some in the media are saying, well if that is the case, we aren’t going to cover the event.
Umm…where was this reaction in the last 15 years? The online comments like this isn’t making the track do an about face. Their recent amendment to their media policy was simply done because they are falling in line with what is in the NCAA digital media guidelines to their tournaments.
Hey…wait a second. Doesn’t the partnership that 51 and Five Flags Speedway almost sounds like the same thing that CBS/TBS has with the NCAA for their basketball tournament and other sport partnerships? Oh wait, my bad you are going to tell me that these aren’t the same thing. Moneywise no, but how the process came to be where it is at today…yes. Both worked together on stepping up the event and now we have the success. You don’t see ESPN courtside for the tourney games, but they cover it and do under those NCAA guidelines.
I honestly have to laugh when some reporters who cover NASCAR Sprint Cup events chime in on social media with their thoughts about the policy. Why are you even commenting? You are not adjusting your travel schedule to hurry from the Sprint Cup banquet in Las Vegas to catch a flight to Pensacola, Florida to cover it on that Sunday morning. And even if the banquet was a different week, is your outlet sending you to cover it? If the race was that important to those reporters, be a lot reporters coming in to Pensacola on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. In fact, may warrant a chartered flight.
Take away your personal feelings of the people from either side involved in this event. Who they are, how they operate or how they are towards you isn’t a factor for you to complain online. The fact is, their partnership in the last 15 years have brought them to where they are today.
Neither side owes you anything. But they are more than welcome to grant you a credential, as long as you are a legit media outlet, to come and cover the Derby and provide your unique insight to the event. They do appreciate the audience you will bring to the event. But, as far as any live play-by-play blogging, video, radio etc. Speed51.com has earned that privilege to be the only ones to do it. They are coming in with a 15-year record to back that up.
This is not about ethics or moral media reasons. This is about two parties working together on making an event what it is today. If anything, you have to appreciate their efforts and the benefit it has become for short track racing. If you are a diehard short track fan, you simply have to respect their decision and thank them for what we see at their event every year.
Your negative comments and threats of not going, isn’t going to change their business model. It’s working for them and they have the proof to back it up.
By the way…I asked on a Facebook post what other short track events have media restrictions? A few hours later…no response. Their guidelines isn't hurting short track racing overall. Other promoters could use your help and should keep their mind open. Snowball Derby is a unique thing unto itself.