By admin | February 27, 2013
By Richard Allen
On Wednesday evening, NASCAR announced that it has suspended Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements indefinitely for violation of the sanctioning body’s ‘Code of Conduct’. According to the full statement put out by NASCAR, the driver made an ”intolerable and insensitive remark” during an interview.
Upon the announcement, a number of people took to Twitter and other sources of social media to guess at what Clements might have said since that “intolerable and insensitive remark” was not revealed. There was plenty of speculation but very little actual substance.
Many seemed to come to Clements’ defense and stated their belief that NASCAR should divulge exactly what was said. Their argument was that if suspension was warranted, the people have the right to know what it was that had been deemed worthy of such punishment. And perhaps that is true.
However, NASCAR is not a democracy nor do the same rights granted to citizens in most public circumstances necessarily apply to the drivers and officials within their “family”. In the same way that any employee may be held accountable by his/her employer, a NASCAR driver can not be allowed to make statements that portray their “company” in a negative light.
That is not to say I believe drivers shouldn’t be allowed to criticize rules or judgements made regarding the racing itself. If Clements was suspended for saying that he believed the racing at Daytona was bad then I would be quick to call NASCAR wrong both for suspending him and for not releasing the contents of his statement.
However, what if the statement made by the driver in question was a racially insensitve remark? What if the remark had been derogatory toward or encouraged violence against women? What if it had been some crude comment made about those fans who were injured during Saturday’s Nationwide Series event? (ESPN.com is reporting that it was indeed a racial slur that was used.)
There are some statements that should not be repeated.
Later, Clements himself placed this statement on his Facebook page which provided an apology but offered little insight as to what was said:
“I apologize and regret what I said to the NASCAR writer and to NASCAR, my sponsors, my fans, and my team. NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that everyone must follow and I unintentionally violated that code. I will not get into specifics of what I said but my comment to the writer was in no way meant to be disrespectful or insensitive to anyone or to be detrimental to NASCAR or the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I will do what I need to do in order to atone for my error in judgment.”
NASCAR will determine what it is that Clements must do to regain his status as an approved driver.
Anyone who has spent very much time reading the content of this blog knows that this writer is not one who commonly takes the NASCAR sanctioning body’s side on very many issues. And if/when all the facts come out, I may not on this one either. But not knowing for sure what was said, I am not willing to throw the officials involved in this decision under the bus just yet.
We all make mistakes. Maybe in a moment of indiscretion, Jeremy Clements said something that should not be repeated. If that’s the case, then NASCAR was right not to publish what was said.
*Note: All if this above being said, I did have to make several lame attempts at humor on Twitter myself. If Clements was suspended for any comment like those I made up, NASCAR was in the wrong.
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