- Paper Round - US Grand Prix
Media indifference marks return to the USA
- United States Grand Prix
I can recall being in New York when Euro 1996 started and struggling to find any reference to it in the US media. Eventually I found one line in the results section a couple of days after the event which told me England had drawn 1-1 with Switzerland.
While football is now a mainstream sport in the States, sections of the press often seem to remain doggedly defiant in trying to ignore it and it often barely rates a mention among the "traditional" US sports. Formula One faces a similar battle, up against the same dismissive attitude that brushed aside football as "being for girls". After all, real men drive in NASCAR.
You might have thought a grand prix on US soil might have at least warranted some race coverage, even if only of the sniffy mocking variety. But so embedded in the big three sports remain the press that even that did not happen.
National paper USA Today gave the top third of its final sports page to an agency report as the NASCAR season finale got five times the coverage, while the New York Post managed four lines. The Washington Post gave it seven lines, and the New York Daily News blanked it altogether. In fairness, NASCAR barely warranted any coverage either in some papers.
Bucking the trend was the New York Times which carried an overview of the weekend under the headline "Formula One makes successful return to US".
As might be expected, the Austin American Statesman, which has led the way in covering the behind-the-scenes machinations surrounding the Circuit of the Americas, gave the weekend good coverage, including a helpful F1 guide on Saturday and a double-page spread post-race. Other Texas-based papers also gave the grand prix some exposure - mainly via agency copy, but it's a start - although outside that there was little.
Even the new media fared little better. ESPN ran with one agency report, while SB Nation ran one article - buried so deep inside the site as to take a search party to find it - which seemed to be more about the reporter's traffic travails. Bleacher Report went into full patronising mode with an otherwise good guide written by someone referring to "an odd sport [visiting] my shores" but at least it provided a decent race report.
NBC, which next season takes over coverage in the USA from Speed, a move which will bring Formula One to a much wider audience, was totally reliant on agency copy, something it will need to improve on next year if it is to provide on-air coverage with decent support.
That Formula One needs to work hard to win over the US audience is a fact, but there is a large core audience there for it to build on. Quite how it goes about changing the ways of an often ultra-conservative media is another matter.