Blake Koch Controversy?

March 30, 2012
by Alan

2012 NNS Blake Koch Headshot 2/16/2012 | John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

So it appears that a controversy has sprung up regarding Blake Koch, one of his sponsors, and ESPN.  ESPN has refused to air a commercial for riseupandregister.com [I will use RUR as an abbreviation form now on].

 I’ve watched the spot and I don’t find anything wrong with it…however 

The RUR site set off all sorts of warnings.  Just going to that page, gave me and immediate “religious” feel.  It may not come out and slap you in the face with religion but it is there. I mean look at that “T” in the graphic of the sites name, what is that supposed to invoke a feeling of.  If you start clicking links (which is what this sponsor wants people to do when they come to this site) all pretenses to not being a religious/political organization are gone, and that doesn’t include Blake’s official site.

Does the site, likely do a good thing?  Yes.  It supplies information about how to register to vote but it also (through it links) overtly tries to sell a conservative-religious message.

Is it “right” that ESPN did air it?  Is the question front and center and is the wrong question to ask, but let’s address it.  As a business ESPN has made the decision, for what every reason, that it doesn’t want to run the ad.  It is their decision, and as a certain portion of our population love to say let the “free market” work the way it wants to.   So yes ESPN is “right” not to show this ad.

Did ESPN handle this wrong? 

In the report a voice mail to Blake’s Father was played that said, “It was declined for political and religious overtones, which we avoid by all of our standards. We looked at the website you know as well as Blake’s website and do see the religious aspects of this. So those are the reasons.”

Yes, they should not have single out Blake’s Official Page, the other links on RUR  provide ample evidence that they are pushing an agenda.

The next question: is it political?  No and yes.  Let’s address the “no” first.   “Go vote” or “register to vote” doesn’t make it “political” and political parties where not mention in neither the ad nor the website on the surface (implied, maybe). 

Before you criticize ESPN you should thank them for indirectly giving Blake and RUR some free airtime that they would never have gotten.

It seems the Political and religious aspect comes from Blake, RUR, and the ever prosecute right-wing themselves.  They have used the politically charged election year to their advantage. 

This little “controversy” will get that website more hits than the ad would ever have, I would have never visited that site.  Blake running to Fox and Friends (I know “fair and balanced”) with his sob story of losing a sponsor due to the evil ESPN not allowing this ad to aired, he will likely gain some new sponsors (2:1 RUR is among them…but who knows), gave free airtime to this sponsor who “dropped” him (some reports seem to indicate that there was only signed for 3 races so RUR may never have had any intentions of signing for more), and once again gave the conservative side a chance to whine about liberal media. 

Blake wasn’t and isn’t being politically or religiously prosecuted, period.  This ad (and the RUR website by extension and the links on this site to such places as bemyvote and jamtour by further extension) was declined because it doesn’t fit with the image ESPN tries to sale itself as.  This is a fake controversy.  I am sure if they took this commercial to some other network, they would air it, TBN comes to mind.

Far too much time was been wasted on this issue than it deserves and brings me to the question that everybody should be asking:

 “Why are we even talking about this?” 

Many other talented drivers have lost sponsors (or can’t get them at all).  Blake is not special. He is no Tim Tebow and isn’t going to be mainstream famous.

NASCAR already has the reputation of being home to nothing more than redneck white trash, adding the bible thumping religious [political] nuts will not help gain any fans.  I realize that NASCAR has a strong religious and “patriotic” slant, but many can overlook this and enjoy the sport, when it is not shoved down their throats in contrived controversial ways.  I know NASCAR and it’s fans are largely friendly and welcoming people, but people who don’t follow the sport closely only see these stories and think “What are all those nuts up to now” and then “I don’t want to be associated with those people”.  

 If those thoughts cross the average person’s mind, why do you think sponsors are hard to come by, would you want your company affiliated with a sport that seems to be targeting only a small portion of the US population?  And could bring unwanted attention with potentially boycotts if they do something this group “deems wrong”. 

2 Comments

  • Katherine says:

    Did I over look the sponsors? Who are they, I will boycott them.

    At least Fox gave him air time, something the liberal news media will NOT do.

    • Alan says:

      That is precisely the point, you suggest you would boycott, so why would a company want provide sponsorships that would bring them any kind of bad press. There is no company to my knowledge that have given the public the reason they have chosen not to be a NASCAR sponsor. I didn’t mean to imply that there was, but to think that in the privacy of the boardroom these questions are not raised on where to spend their advertising dollars, is foolish. I could be wrong on this but I don’t think so.

      Like I said I have no real problem with riseupandregister being a sponsor, they chose this drive and though it was a good place to spend their money and when ESPN decided not to run the ad they chose to cut back their sponsorship when it failed to provide all the air time they though they should get. I also have no problem with ESPN choosing not to run this ad on their network…business is business.

      Blake had a new primary sponsor ChristianCinema.com for the Texas race and riseupandvote did not drop him completely like originally implied and are now “secondary sponsors”…like the above article predicted would happen. This was just more faux outrage that foxnews likes to push. Blake is still in need of a primary sponsor for the next 28 or so races, but they’re several other drivers/teams in the same boat.

      As for “liberal” media not giving this air time, well they shouldn’t have…its not a “news” story, and should never have been pushed as one. Like I said there are a lot of drivers out there with no stickers on their cars and would have loved this free air time.
      Source for the sponsorship info: http://blogs.denverpost.com/highernote/2012/04/13/nationwides-blake-koch-sponsor-espn-flap/3407/