By admin | August 1, 2010
By Richard Allen
NASCAR is doing great. The grandstands are filled to capacity every week. Television ratings are off the charts. The competition is better than it ever has been with no need for intervention by the sanctioning body.
OK. Hopefully the NASCAR media and social networking monitors stopped reading after the first paragraph.
Seriously, the reports last week that NASCAR has secretly fined a couple of star drivers was troubling. It was troubling not because of the fine or even the reason for the fine. Every sport punishes competitors for actions detrimental to the sport. The part about these NASCAR sanctions that was most troubling was that they were done in secret. It was almost as if by not allowing drivers to discuss the sport’s troubles one would actually realize the sport has issues.
But later revelations have taken the folly of the recent NASCAR penalties to a new level. Supposedly, driver Denny Hamlin was issued a sanction for something he wrote on the social networking site, twitter.
Does that really mean NASCAR has someone monitoring twitter, Facebook and MySpace? If so, that is a sad indictment against those in power. It smacks of the type of rule displayed in absolute monarchies and dictatorships.
The reason this piece began with such an outlandish paragraph is…well, it was outlandish. NASCAR is the opposite of everything in that paragraph. But instead of focusing on the problems at hand, those at the head of the sport have chosen to spend their time reading twitter posts to make sure no driver posts anything giving fans even the slightest inkling that things are not going as well as could be.
Unfortunately, it is a bit too late for that. The empty grandstands, low television ratings and general lack of interest would seem to indicate many have figured out there are some problems already. Issuing fines for mentioning things everyone else is well aware of in the hopes of keeping people from finding out shows just how out of touch the sport’s leadership is.
Again, fining those inside the sport for actions detrimental to the sport is not the problem. The problem is that NASCAR is aware that there are issues with their sport but their actions indicate they think we are not aware of those issues.
I would think NASCAR officials have more important things to do than sitting around monitoring social networking sites or reading blogs, unless of course, they are using the discussion there to work on their sport.
Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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