Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images
Kyle Larson leads a pack of cars at Pocono Raceway in August. Our Brandon Caldwell takes a look at NASCAR and its reception to criticism.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
During the off season of NASCAR, we tend to get a lot of “fill” stories. You’ve got to feel for some of the writers, they’re paid to write at least one article a day and will write just about anything that will qualify as newsworthy. Being someone who has been following this sport for well over 20 years, I understand what is and what isn’t “fill” and a story written by FoxSports.com has me concerned for the distant and near future of this sport.
It was an article about NASCAR President, Brian France. France, who is the grandson of the founding father of this sport, Bill France Sr. and the son of Bill France Jr., took over the reins of this sport in the early 2000’s, when it was at its peak.
Since then, a ton of moves have made long-time fans irate with him, and his current plan is no smarter than moving Darlington from Labor Day.
France came out in the article and said that he plans on fining drivers who speak out about the performance of the current racecar.
NASCAR penalized Denny Hamlin in 2013 after his comments from a tire test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We draw the line on criticism of the racing product...” But my question is why?
The answer for France and the rest of the higher-ups in NASCAR is that they feel the criticism of the product will look badly for their sponsors and their corporate partners. But maybe an attitude like that is the reason why they’re scared to lose those sponsors in the first place.
In all other sports, criticism is allowed. It’s actually encouraged. But for some reason NASCAR doesn’t allow criticism, and I don’t know why it doesn’t. Even the fans fall victim to this, as if any one of their other sports teams doesn’t live up to expectations, they will criticize their team until they’re blue in the face. But when it comes to their favorite racecar driver not living up to expectations, even saying that is considered “bashing.”
I never understood why this was until I saw that article. I finally realized that this is the persona that NASCAR wants, but yet it can’t figure out why it fails to capture the attention of the stick and ball sports… Well because those sports are allowed to be reported on honestly.
Photo by Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images
Denny Hamlin (right) stands with Clint Bowyer at Daytona in July 2014. Hamlin was fined $25,000 by NASCAR in 2013 for comments made about the Gen 6 racecar.
Plus, those sports also have these things called sound bites. Everyone knows exactly what I mean when I say “Playoffs?? Playoffs, you kiddin’ me? I just hope we can win a game…” Or they also recognize “Practice??.... Not a game??.... Practice??” Those are two examples of quotes that are still played on television to this day as some of the greatest, and they are both over a decade old.
But we don’t see any of those out of NASCAR. We don’t get any great quotes, and now we know why; because they’re not allowed to say anything or they will get hit with a fine, something that no driver or team owner wants to deal with.
So rather than have quotes that possibly boost TV ratings and eyeballs on your product, they would rather save their face and hold the course. You know the quote that says anything that’s not going forward is going backwards? Well that resonates here pretty well.
Don’t believe me? Go check out NASCAR on FOX’s Facebook page where the article is posted, and look at the hundreds of comments below it that hammer Brian France and NASCAR on this point of view, and then come back and tell me that it is what the fans want. It’s not what the fans want, that’s never what it’s about.
TV ratings and attendance are in the tank, and NASCAR is still going with the same old thing that got them in this downward spiral to begin with, and that is trying to be too politically correct. They’re trying to be too “good.” But “good” doesn’t sell.
Society loves controversy, it’s interesting as hell for them, and for you too, right? Don’t you love it? How many times when a player goes off on a reporter are we all there with our eyeballs wide as a bat’s, sitting there watching it, eating it up with a spoon? Well race fans, don’t expect that to be NASCAR.
What you can expect is the “same old, same old.” The same old drivers getting out of the same old cars, thanking the same old sponsors, and saying only positive things about the same old race you had trouble staying awake through.
The same old TV ratings falling into oblivion, the same old TV reporters telling us everything is okay, and the same old racetracks, tearing down the same old seats we all used to sit in. I just hope now, we all know why; because NASCAR fails to change.