By LARRY WOODY
Latest evidence civilization, as we have known it, is doomed:
Sprint has announced it is dropping its sponsorship of NASCAR's premier series, Sprint Cup, at the end of the 2015 season.
But that's not the worst part.
Sprint is reportedly dumping stock car racing in favor of soccer.
Soccer? Holy Fireball Roberts!
The CEO of Sprint owns a soccer team in Bolivia and there is speculation much of the $750 million the company has been annually pumping into NASCAR will be shuffled into soccer.
Understand, I don't have anything against soccer -- just as I don't have anything against playing the kazoo.
It's just soccer is so mind-numbing boring, and the only way I'd watch it is if I were duct-taped to an upright chair, facing the TV, with my eyelids propped open with toothpicks.
Right about here someone from the back is going to shout:
"Hey, dumbo! Apparently you don't realize soccer is the world's No. 1 spectator sport!"
So what? Breathing is also popular, but I wouldn't buy a ticket to watch it.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned (my kids say there's no MAYBE about it) but I can't understand why anyone would rather watch somebody play footsies with a soccer ball than see Richard Petty knock David Pearson into the cheap seats at Daytona.
Problem is, NASCAR doesn't have Richard and David any more. Instead of wild & crazy semi-reformed moonshine runners, we've got buttoned-down Yuppies running in polite little circles and apologizing if they bump into someone.
NASCAR has gone from Junior Johnson to Jimmie Johnson, and somewhere along the way -- I'd say about the time we lost Dale Earnhardt -- it lost its soul.
In the 1980s Sports Illustrated called NASCAR "America's Hottest Sport." It out-drew every other pro sport, including the NFL, on an event-per-event basis.
In recent years it has undergone a cold spell. NASCAR's once-massive crowds have dwindled, sponsorships are drying up and the biggest corporate sponsor is reportedly turning toward (sigh!) soccer.
Nowhere is NASCAR's downward trajectory more evident than right here in Middle Tennessee. Once a hot-bed of stock car racing, the area's sports fans have turned to other diversions, including the NFL and NHL.
Historical old Fairgrounds Speedway, where legends once battled, is a virtual forgotten relic. And Nashville Superspeedway, sprawled on the Wilson County/Rutherford County line, has been in mothballs for three years.
The Superspeedway is a broken Field of Dreams -- Dover Motorsports built it, and nobody came. Well, almost nobody. Not enough fans turned out to support the track's second- and third-tier races, eventually forcing Dover to close shop and put a For Sale sign in the front yard.
Last August amid big fanfare it was announced a global technology company called NeXovation was buying the track. However, there has been delay after delay, and the deal has yet to be finalized. It's now too late to book any races for 2015, so the track is destined for another season of silence.
Unless, that is, the new owner turns it into a soccer stadium.