Although I don’t personally accept this point of view, there are a crowd of people out there who believe NASCAR is a sport followed only by ignorant southern rednecks. And as a proud, self-professed member of the ignorant, southern redneck community, I must state that I am offended by statements such as that!
In a company I previously worked for, we had a CEO who believed that our employees were probably too illiterate to understand the “big picture” thinking that he wished to impart to us. Therefore, when he visited our facility, the man thought it necessary to describe things to us in NASCAR terms so the great unwashed among us might be fully able to grasp his message.
I was greatly offended by the whole thing for several reasons, not the least of which is that I know many highly educated people who routinely follow NASCAR. However, the main reason I was offended is also the reason I am writing this piece.
I certainly don’t share the opinion of those who think that NASCAR is simply a sport for the uneducated. Some of the most learned people I have ever met are avid NASCAR fans. But having said that, I simply don’t get it! Moreover, I guess you could say that I am one ignorant, southern redneck who doesn’t see why anyone is fascinated by NASCAR.
It is not my intention to take anything away from the drivers of these cars. Apparently they are blessed with incredible reflexes and the finest in hand-and-eye coordination. No doubt they also make some contributions to our recently slumping economy.
NASCAR’s demands keep people gainfully employed in the tire industry and in the production of precision racing fuels. These drivers also could keep a stable of lawyers busy negotiating their contracts, writing pre-nuptial agreements, and conducting their divorce proceedings.
The medical community has not been forgotten by NASCAR either. The sport could not exist without enlisting the services of cosmetic surgeons to perform the obligatory physical enhancements needed by their trophy girls and trophy wives.
I am increasingly hesitant to classify NASCAR as a sport in much the same way I refuse to consider horse racing a sport. After all, these drivers do little more than sit in one place and let their transportation do all the work. Yet who am I to criticize a form of entertainment that provides opportunities for the physically challenged, those too big to stand in the stirrups and apply a quirt to a horse’s rump?
Driving around the banked asphalt turns at extremely high rates of speed, these walking product billboards never really get anywhere. These stars of NASCAR are quite adept in making left-hand turns. And generally, bad things only happen to them—and happen quite quickly—when they decide to turn right.
In fact, I think most of the fans of NASCAR who claim they are watching the races for the speed and excitement are secretly hoping somebody will turn right.
But I would be remiss if I failed to mention the drivers who do everything in their power to transform NASCAR into an actual sporting event. These are the ones who exert real physical dexterity, such as climbing the track fences or performing back flips off their cars. These drivers are to be applauded for their contributions to sport.
Doing doughnuts on the infield—while visually impressive—definitely fails to meet the physical exertion standard required to lift the drivers’ chosen profession to even the most basic levels of sport.
Only a fool would fail to realize that NASCAR is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in this country. And some of my best friends are numbered among its most hard core fans. No doubt they will harass me about this column. I just simply do not share their enthusiasm for a sport that spends hours on end merely running in circles.
My dog does much the same thing when he is chasing his tail or getting ready to take a nap. Yet I would never consider him to be an exceptional athlete either.
I also love the squabbles that routinely happen between these pampered, overpaid, jumpsuit-clad crybabies. Like kids fussing over toys in a first grade classroom, you just know it is only a matter of time until someone gets his car scratched. I used to discipline my kids when they behaved that. Moreover, their spoiled and childish antics almost make John McEnroe seem like a reasoned diplomat.
And most of all, I don’t need NASCAR to dictate every area of my daily life. I am fully capable of finding my way to Lowes and Office Depot, or maybe even buying myself a Little Debbie cake without reading about it on someone’s flame resistant garments or on the hood of their car.
Strategically-placed product endorsements are certainly not without their merits, but they should be exclusively reserved for outfield walls and women’s beach volleyball.
But please don’t misunderstand me. Despite these criticisms, it would be wrong for you to think that I find no redeeming qualities in NASCAR. That certainly isn’t the case!
I am not without some praise for NASCAR.
At least it isn’t soccer!
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