NASCAR's Problem With Scanners: Should They Be Censored or Have Warning Labels?

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IOctober 23, 2010

With five races left, the energy level continues to heat up, as time is running short to decide who will be this season’s Sprint Cup Champion.

With each passing race, the aggravation as well as the excitement will continue to take center stage not only in the garages, but out on the track as well.  

Heated exchanges between drivers, as well as their crew chiefs, have been part of the sport ever since the first race was run some 60 plus years ago.

Drivers sometimes say things that need not be said. It happens to all of us. The problem for NASCAR's personalities is that their most stressful moments, and the words produced during those moments, are all over the airwaves for everyone with a scanner to hear.

The occasionally foul mouths have some people upset. Think of the word "perception" while applying it to the world of NASCAR.

It can change the way things are seen while we look at what is actually happening in the sport around us.

Most of them choose to paint this pretty picture of how they feel the drivers should act while out on the track during a typical race weekend.

At times, we tend to forget that we don’t live in a perfect world, and the world beyond the fence that separates the fans from the drivers who are paid to perform their weekly duties race after race are just as human as us.

NASCAR, as a sport, has also made it easy for the fans to be able to listen in on what’s going on with their favorite drivers during a race.

And just how bad can this be?

Well most of the fans perceive their favorite drivers as these sweet, polite, cordial and friendly drivers once they get into their hot, uncomfortable and noisy race cars for about three to four hours on a typical race day.

They sit up in the stands and put their headphones on thinking that they will hear some pretty cool stuff.

Most of them think that the crew chief and driver get along like some fairy tale marriage, but instead what they do get to hear is probably some of the worst language that you would only expect to hear at some sailor convention.

Scanners have done a really good job of putting the fans in the figurative passenger seat—without all the worries of hitting a wall or being cramped up for three plus hours.

It’s amazing when you think about all the valuable information that is broadcast through a box that almost fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Scanners give the everyday fan a chance to listen in on what the drivers, spotters and crew chiefs talk about during a race, and at the same time, it takes away the guess work of trying to perceive what their next move will be. 

Now is this really a good thing?

What a lot of the fans don’t realize is that once they put those headphones on, they enter into a conversation that should more than likely be private.

Drivers often get caught up in the moment, and sometimes, they need to let off some steam, even when they're not thinking straight.

The language that is used can be a far cry from the expected for those fans who were hoping to hear some type of race strategy talk.

These drivers have a lot on their minds while racing around at these high speeds. They make split-second decisions under the greatest of pressure.

Not only do they have to concentrate on what they are doing, but they need to know what the driver in front of them is thinking.

When all doesn’t go as planned, that’s usually when the slang—and yes, sometimes cursing—pours out.

So in all reality, can we actually think that the driver is worried what the fans will hear while sitting back enjoying a race, sipping on their favorite beverage or eating their favorite snack?

Probably not.

Instead, that has to be the furthest thing from his mind.

The language that is used and the heated remarks that they make are the norm in the middle of the race.

It’s just too bad when the fans take what should be a private conversation and blow it up into something most of us have said at one time or another when maybe our blood was beyond boiling temperature. You know what it's like.

You lose control for either a minute or two, say something crazy, then when you cool off you look back and think to yourself, “Why did I say that?”

So why should the drivers be any different? Why are they scrutinized for things that they say, when actually they are just as human as us and play with the same feelings?