Monday, April 21, 2014

Sport, Not a Sport: NASCAR

For the first edition of Sport, Not a Sport (where I discuss the merits of various athletic activities, and whether they qualify as a "sport" me) I've decided to take on some low hanging fruit, NASCAR and race car driving in general. NASCAR is very popular amongst the farmer tan set. I assume. Race car driving, like GWAR, is a strange spectacle to outsiders but a passion for those who follow it. According an in-depth, peer-review study published in the scientific journal of Bleacher Report (they looked at some Twitter graphs), in 2012,  NASCAR was the second most popular pro sport. Only the NFL beat it out. A recent poll shows that "auto-racing" is more popular than the NBA and NHL. Anyone who doesn't follow NASCAR, such as myself, will find this information to be shocking. I don't really follow the NBA, but I know people who have favorite NBA teams and watch games regularly. I know people who will watch NHL and MLB games. Random ones, not just games with their teams. I can't name a single personal acquaintance who makes it a point to watch any kind of automotive racing.

On the surface automotive racing makes sense as entertainment. Fast cars and occasional car crashes. Things we all love. I've tried to watch televised NASCAR races and it is a slog, because they are going in a circle. Even Formula 1, where they throw in some right hand turns, doesn't do it for me. I don't know what it takes to be a fan of race car driving, but I don't have it. It appears that you need to be an American Southerner or a rich European. It's a strange sample group.

Let's move on to whether or not driving a motorized vehicle extremely fast qualifies as a sport. The "it's a sport" list consists of "it's physically demanding" and nothing else. This is the mantra of every NASCAR defender. It's harder than it seems. And I'm sure it is. Driving on a long road trip is tiring. Your arms fatigue, your butt starts to ache, and your leg gets tired if you aren't using cruise control. Imagine doing that at 180 mph, with no A/C, in a fire suit and wearing a helmet. You'd be tuckered out. I agree, NASCAR is a physically demanding method of driving a automobile.

The "it's not a sport" list is similarly extensive. That's right, there's only one reason NASCAR isn't a sport, but you only need one. It's a physically demanding method of driving an automobile. If your sport involves and internal combustion engine, then it isn't a sport. You're driving a car, which is how most of the fans get to the event. Which is odd. It would be like going to a football game by only moving ten yards at a time and stopping every seven seconds. My point is that Dick's Sporting Goods doesn't carry premium unleaded. A real sport only uses the term "running on fumes" as a metaphor. Actually any external energy source disqualifies an activity as a sport. I'm looking at you America's Cup. And surfing, which I didn't see coming, but there's going to be some collateral damage here in Sport Not a Sport. It's inevitable and I knew that, and so should you, dear reader. I'm just sorry that surfing had to be our first casualty. As cool as surfing is, it isn't a sport if the Moon is an integral piece of equipment.

Speaking of the Moon, did you know that NASCAR has it's roots in moonshine running? Drug smuggling is not a sport. What's next? Running a marathon with a balloon of heroin in your anal cavity?

NASCAR: Not a sport.

Rule Learned Today: External power sources are for commuting to work, not sports.