New week, another NASCAR controversy. A controversy that reaches out of the sport and pulls in outsiders who enter the discussion thinking everyone that likes NASCAR must be an intolerant, uneducated redneck. Being a NASCAR fan in 2017 is a full-time job. Not because there is so much to keep up with, mostly because you have to defend this stupid sport to people who aren’t fans. Either you defend the sport or you spend your time hiding the fact you do in fact, enjoy NASCAR.
A few seasons ago it was the Confederate flag controversy. This year it is the National Anthem kneeling controversy. Both times NASCAR fans were left fighting a civil war within the sport. The Confederate flag is a piece of history, one that should be viewed in books and museums. The flag should not be flying in the infield of race tracks around the country. This week two old guard NASCAR owners said they’d fire anyone on their team for protesting the National Anthem by kneeling for social equality.
Both of those examples are easy things to take care of. NASCAR could easily put out a statement distancing themselves from the controversy and reaffirming everyone they are against the flag and for freedom of speech and expression. They can then ban flags from all race tracks and encourage people to exercise their first amendment rights.
NASCAR Lives 24 Hours Behind Everyone Else
On Sunday as soon as the Richard Petty & Richard Childress comments came out the sport should have got ahead of the storm. NASCAR should have issued a statement immediately. Don’t let two old men from the south be the voice of the sport for 24 hours. The same thing happened with the Confederate flag controversy as well, NASCAR could have handled it decidedly better.
Sunday was another example of NASCAR’s gross incompetence. Instead of jumping in front of the issue they instead hunkered down in their Daytona headquarters. By doing that it allowed the media to construct NASCAR’s narrative for them. It also allowed The President to use NASCAR as a political prop. It wasn’t until nearly 24 hours after Petty and Childress’ statements that NASCAR finally made a statement.
NASCAR statement pic.twitter.com/Sme0Gjww5e
— #NASCARPlayoffs (@NASCAR) September 25, 2017
A three-sentence statement that took 24 hours to construct and issue. That’s unacceptable for a major sporting league with supposedly full-time PR people. The National Anthem has been a hallmark of the NASCAR pre-race ceremonies but we aren’t that far removed from a time when drivers used to be in their cars for the anthem, not standing.
It really would have been easy to put this statement out as soon as Sunday’s race ended. I’m sitting on my couch in Cincinnati with a statement prepared that would calm everyone down. Meanwhile, the person paid to make this statement needed 24 hours to issue it. Call me up NASCAR, Matt Niehaus PR can get the people to lessen their focus on you. Instead, you sat back and like the Confederate flag controversy you allowed the media to make a mockery of the sport, the teams, and the fans.
I’m Tired Of Defending This Sport
Done with it. NASCAR allows themselves to be a punching bag for the rest of the sporting world. The Confederate flag is embarrassing, saying you’d fire anyone expressing their first amendment right is equally as embarrassing. Why should any sane NASCAR fan defend the sport for making these statements?
Without a doubt, there are a lot of NASCAR drivers, crew members and fans that agree with the President and his barrage of embarrassing tweets. They are also likely under the assumption that this is a protest against the flag and the military because that’s what the news told them. Because of that, the media had their storyline handed to them. Incompetence on everyone’s part, but most NASCAR’s.
In 2017 it is very easy to handle a situation. You step in front of the car and Superman that bitch into stopping and redirect it a different direction. NASCAR as a company hasn’t figured this out yet. Instead, they allow the stereotype to exist. Old, uneducated, rednecks that hate minorities and hope the south would rise again.
I fit the type of fan NASCAR is trying to attract. Young professional, college degree, disposable income to spend on attending races. Lifelong NASCAR/racing fan and here I am, done with defending this sport run by alarmingly stupid individuals. Defending this situation to my friends isn’t worth it. Taking my black friend to a race track littered with Confederate flags is uncomfortable. NASCAR wants to be liked but makes it so hard to actually be likable.
NASCAR is on the verge of alienating the fans that they want to attract while pandering to the fans that they so desperately tried to alienate.
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