Article first published as Risking Safety For Ratings....Do We Go Too Far? on Technorati.
This month, at the IRL closing season race, it might appear they took a risk on drivers to bet the brand on ratings. 34 drivers raced on a track of 1.5 miles....the highest driver roster for the entire 2011 IRL series this year, on one of the smallest tracks. All while trying to revive IRL from a decrease in fan base and ratings. Did they go too far?
If you look at the recent history of average cars for a season on a 1.5 mile track, you will notice a gradual increase, with a test of sorts in 2008, setting the pace for the continual increase up to this 2011 season.
In 2006, 1.5 mile tracks raced an average of 19 cars.
In 2007, 1.5 mile tracks raced an average of 20 cars.
A big jump in 2008, for 1.5 mile tracks bumped the average cars to 26.
In 2009, 1.5 mile tracks slightly decreased the average cars to 23.
Back to a bigger increase in 2010, 1.5 mile tracks raced an average 27 cars.
This past year, in 2011, IRL raced an average 31 cars on a 1.5 mile track.
How would you, as a driver, feel when you are asked to change it up from a race that is recommended to be 20 cars to 34 cars? Danica Patrick, along with other drivers, admitted in interviews on ESPN, that they were scared going into this race.
Based on the sanction recommendations of 1911 when the cars drove much slower, it appears the drivers at The Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past month, might have been put into a risky situation cutting the distance from the safety sanctions of 400 feet to 233 feet., a decrease of over 40%.
Over the last 2 years the average number of drivers in a 1.5 mile race increased by 35% in total. What do you think was expected to happen with a race stacked against the sanction odds of safety? I can guarantee no one wanted death, but if we know that sex and violence sells on t.v., do you think that someone expected revved up crashes to earn that .8 rating?
Where do we draw the line? We exploit woman to gain ratings. We advertise and display rated M, for mature, games of violence and practically virtual sex for our young, out in the open for them to see and desire, all for profit. Now, we put those that work for us, at risk, in hopes to revive a brand to gain only a result of the loss of a human life that is unable to be revived.
Do we know where to draw the line when we are tying to win the game of ratings or to win a challenge when trying to load the money bags? Check out Miss Representation, a new documentary from the Sundance Film Festival that delves into taking things too far.
What happens when you take too big of a risk and someone dies? Visit IndyCar.com for links to updates on Randy Bernard, CEO of Indy Racing League, on his thoughts regarding that horrific day.
Rest in Peace Dan Wheldon. I pray that your family finds strength to heal. I pray that through your death, lessons will be learned and our world may become a little less careless when taking risks