Indy league loves the women

CRASH CAMERON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Hey, how about a little girl-on-girl action to put a boost into the ratings?

It would be harder to accuse the Indy Racing League (more on that later) of that because its ratings have shown a significant spike since the beginning of the season, after the two "open-wheel" racing series morphed back into one.

So it's highly unlikely that the IRL needed to have a tiff between its multimedia star Danica Patrick and Venezuelan fireball Milka Duno. (Uh, at least she seems a fireball off the track.) You won't ever see it shown on any of their own broadcasts, with a cheesy Entertainment Tonight intro like "Danica wants discussion, Milka throws in the towel." But the YouTube video is a hit. And it did cross over into other media.

As Jim Rome said, "I just spent five minutes talking about the IRL. When has that ever happened before?"

As the old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity.

- The WNBA needs publicity just to remind people that it still exists. So, when the spirit of Ron Artest took over the game between the Los Angeles Sparks and Detroit Shock (or is it the other way 'round?) for Malice at the Palace, Pt. 2, there has been more coverage for the league than all of its championship games combined. Doesn't matter that it was laughably awkward. Most WNBA games are just that.

What, you've never watched one?

- I'm not being sexist, it just is. Artest's display at the same building in the infamous Pistons-Pacers game was far beyond ridiculous. And not the least bit funny.

- Maybe the girls just need a little more practice at this brawling thing. Maybe some team needs to suit up Laila Ali. Maybe this is what women's hockey needs to get a TV contract.

- There are no Nielson-type numbers in which to declare a winner, so let's go with YouTube hits: As of Wednesday night, the Danica-Milka spat topped 290,000, while the Sparks-Shock tango scored 70,000.

- Let me try to explain this as concisely as I can: In 1995, there was NASCAR and there was IndyCar battling it out for the hearts and wallets of race fans. Then two factions in Indy decided to battle it out against themselves. Both sides had different ideas in which direction to go. The result was the formation of the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART, later to become ChampCar).

As it turned out, neither direction had a compass. Over last winter, after 13 years of holding the grudge, they grudgingly became one again. And it's now called the IndyCar Series again.

Boy, just like it never happened. Like we woke up from a dream.

- Incidentally, for a few years the races in Canada were still named "Indy" races, even though it wasn't the Indy league doing the racing. Long story: It all had to do with lawyers and beer. Confused yet?

- So what happened in the 13 years of dark IndyCar nights? The owners of NASCAR became worth gajillions -- largely in part from putting their oil-stained signatures onto one of the largest sports TV contracts in history, and consistently accumulating the highest non-NFL ratings in North America.

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Some directions prove to be the right ones. At least the first few kilometres are looking good for the CFL. This is the first season after the league decided to go all-TSN all-the-time with their TV deal.

After four games, numbers are up 11%. Most surprisingly, the Argos-Eskimos game pulled in the highest rating!


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