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More NASCAR as a parody of itself

The Charlotte Observer’s Jim Utter, on the series’ 2015 schedule:

Then there’s Atlanta, which hosted a pair of Cup series races from 1960 through 2010 before track owner Bruton Smith elected to move one of its dates to his new facility at Kentucky.

When choosing which date – spring or fall – to eliminate, Smith chose Atlanta’s March race.

What was the reasoning?

“It’s tough to do an outdoor event here in March,” speedway president Ed Clark said at the time. “Even if it’s 60 degrees for the race, it’s cold for the (overnight) campers.”

When the 2015 schedule was released Tuesday, Atlanta’s lone race date was moved to March 1, 2015 – the earliest it has ever been run.

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Candidates at Starting Line

JLF head John Hood offers up an election preview. A highlight:

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has been running hard for reelection for more than a year. Republican nominee Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, has been campaigning against Hagan for nearly as long. Republicans, Democrats, and independent-expenditure groups have already begun their battle over control of the state legislature.

So far, there isn’t much evidence that any of these actions and expenditures have made much of an impression on the intended audience — the North Carolinians likely to vote this fall.

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Brits poorer than almost all of America

So reports the Mirror here. I’m not surprised, and this in part explains the British’s strong interest in its past. Along side nearly a million men, British greatness died a century ago on Flanders Field.

H/t: JAT

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The Panthers’ 2011 draft revistied

The UPoR offers up a handy recap of the Panthers’ 2011 draft, which saw the team take Cam Newton and a bunch of guys that are no longer on the team. And that would be a huge problem especially when the Panthers were going first in every round of the draft in which they still had a pick. Jonathan Jones writes that:

Marty Hurney was fired in part because of big running back contracts and less-than-successful mid- to late-round draft picks in the final few years. Outside of Newton, there’s no question the 2011 draft was the least fruitful for the Panthers in recent memory.

Maybe. 2011 was certainly a bad draft for the Panthers but 2009 and 2010 weren’t much better. In 2009, the Panthers had seven picks, including five in the second, third, or fourth round, which netted them one and a half productive players: Captain Munnerlyn become a starter at cornerback while Sherrod Martin started his second and third year in the league before losing his first-team job his fourth year in the league. In 2010, the Panthers had 10 picks but only two — Greg Hardy and Brandon LaFell — really contributed. But Jones is certainly correct that those sorts of draft and player personnel development failures will help get a GM fired.

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The power of saying ‘no’

In a shocking development given recent history, the city of Charlotte is actually attempting to negotiate with the Charlotte Hornets over upgrades to Time Warner Cable Arena. The Charlotte Hornets and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority want nearly $48 million in upgrades while the city has countered at $33.5 million. Just wish the city (and the Uptown Powers That Be) had shown any type of backbone in their negotiations with the Panthers, in which the city had a by far better negotiating position that with the Hornets.

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US Airways reaches agreement with Piedmont pilots

If you look back at the 2014 US Airways/American Airlines baseline, you’ll find that nearly a tenth (64 of 670 total flights) of the carriers’ combined flights from CLT are on turboprops. Piedmont Aviation, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Airways (and now, to be technical, American Airlines) operates these flights. Piedmont has long faced an uncertain future — the Bombardier 37- and 50-seat DHC aircraft the company flies are rather old and US Airways has long avoided selecting replacement aircraft, be they turboprop or jet. This has even led to speculation that Piedmont might eventually just stop flying planes all together.

As the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports, Piedmont’s pilot have reached a tentative agreement with US Airways/American, so it appears that the carrier will live on and get new planes. It remains to be seen whether those new aircraft would be more modern turboprops — yes, they still make turboprops — or 76-seat regional jets. Either way, going to larger aircraft will have a siginificant impact on the service levels to the smaller communities that Piedmont currently flies to from Charlotte.

About the name: After US Air bought the original Piedmont Airlines, it changed the name of one of its commuter carrier Piedmont to prevent a start up from reusing the name.

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Racing in trouble

At the local level, as in fewer and fewer fans at local speedways (short ovals). The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel offers up an interest look at the decline of local race tracks in Indiana. A highlight:

A few years ago while flying to Florida on business, Baer Field Speedway Program Director Bob Koorsen noticed a pair of racing fans a few seats away dressed head-to-toe in Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., gear. They were heading to Daytona for Speed Week.

“You guys ever go to the local track?” Koorsen asked. “They didn’t even know there was one. They worked at the (General Motors) plant six miles away and had no idea the track was there.”

To the layman, that might seem extremely odd, but Koorsen suggests that NASCAR fans and short-track fans are not the same people any more. That might be one of many reasons why so many short-tracks in northern Indiana are struggling.

Baer Field closed July 2, and Gas City I-69 Speedway shut down last Monday. South Bend Motor Speedway is for sale, as is Angola Motor Speedway, though owner Kurt Henry will operate next year if he can’t find a buyer.

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Fantasy football as a form of gambling?

Whether something is considered gambling rests upon whether its outcome is determined by skill or by chance. Traditionally, fantasy sports leagues, even if there’s money at stake, involve a lot of skill — which players to draft, trade, and play, over a season covering multiple weeks — and thus aren’t considered gambling under state and federal law. However, the fantasy football industry is evolving, with an increasing number of “games” (leagues) that exist for only one particular Sunday. As the Associated Press reports:

The day-game world can be much different and the skill level needed to “run” a team that exists for only one week is far lower than that for a season-long enterprise.

And a growing number of fantasy sites have games that “look very much like prop bets or parlay cards,” [gambling law attorney Tony] Cabot says, with some games as simple as paying an “entry” fee, and then choosing who, between two players, will finish a certain day with more receiving yards.

“It depends on how you run your game,” Cabot said. “If you said, ‘We’re going to do fantasy, quick pick, random drafts,’ I say, ‘How can that be skill based?’ But if it’s a daily game where you’re doing a draft, have the ability to change players halfway through the game and make all these decisions, then it’s much closer to a traditional model.

So how do such day leagues fit into the existing laws covering gambling? And when will the NFL start to see some forms of fantasy football as essentially being betting on its games, something the league has traditionally been very much against? One thing seems certain, until someone squeaks, we can expect more and more fantasy sports offerings that require less skill.

“Part of the problem with entrepreneurial endeavors on the Internet is that some people push the envelope and some cross the line,” Cabot said. “Until there’s some sort of enforcement action on some level, I think you’ll see them keep pushing that line out further and further.”

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Women gamers up, again

As Ars Techina reports:

According to the [Entertainment Software Association]‘s measure of 2013 sales, women ages 18 and over now constitute 36 percent of all measured gamers, compared to boys under the age of 18, who represent 17 percent of the total population.

Overall, 48 percent of those playing video games now are women. And nearly 4 in 10 of all game players are now 36 years of age or older.

H/t: JAT

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More colleges selling beer at football games

So reports ESPN. What’s behind this? Money, of course, both directly from the beer sales but also from attracting more people to games from the enhanced “fan experience.”

Using an oft-repeated sports marketing catchphrase, Akron athletic director Tom Wistrcill said offering beer is a way to “enhance the fan experience.”

“You do it because, yeah, we want to make some money on it,” Wistrcill said. “But in this day and age, we’re going to fight the 60-inch high-def TV since every game is available on an ESPN broadcast or on the high-quality Internet. How do we keep people coming to the stadium for the in-stadium experience?”

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