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Debating whether or not NASCAR drivers are athletes distracts from bigger issues

By admin | November 25, 2013

Donovan McNabb has stirred up many in the NASCAR media and fanbase. 

By Richard Allen

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb recently said that he didn’t consider Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, or any race car driver, to be an athlete. This debate has come up before whenever there is talk of declaring a NASCAR driver to be the ‘Athlete of the Year’ or some other such title.

McNabb’s comments certainly stirred the media who cover NASCAR. From editorial posts and their ”snarky” tweets, the fury of those who took offence was evident.

My take on McNabb’s comments is one of complete indifference. I could care less whether or not race car drivers are called athletes, and I do not understand why anyone else cares. What difference does it make whether they are considered athletes? Does it change your view of the sport if the drivers aren’t called athletes on ESPN SportsCenter.

Oddly, the arguments that drivers are athletes almost immediately go to Jimmie Johnson’s training routine away from the track or Mark Martin’s workout regimen to prove that they should be labeled as athletes. That alomost seems to contradict the argument if evidence has to come from somewhere other than the track. But if it’s that important, call Jimmy Spencer an athlete.

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I am more concerned about the quality of racing on the track than I am about the labels applied to the sport’s drivers by former football players.

Too bad some of the more prominent members of the NASCAR media don’t get nearly as upset about the parade racing that we saw over the entire NASCAR season or the Sprint Cup driver domination and ruination of the Nationwide Series.(Note: Many NASCAR media members do address these topics, but I’m referring to what I call the ‘water carriers’, i.e. “Can I bring you another glass of water, Mr. France.” You know who they are.)

Vote in the ‘Are race car drivers athletes?’ poll ————————————>

Engaging in debates with Donovan McNabb accomplishes little more than to serve as a distraction from the real issues. Empty grandstands and television ratings that have fallen dramatically from the highs of eight years ago are more important than whether or not drivers are called athletes. 500 mile races in which the only passing seen takes place immediately after restarts or on pit stop exchanges are of more concern to me.

Please, be more concerned with the racing than the labels.

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “Debating whether or not NASCAR drivers are athletes distracts from bigger issues”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Rich, this is the reason why I don’t want Fox Sports around my cars again. They have more people than they can afford and will afford to pay off.

  2. Robert Green Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    This is how ESPN rolls… Just like the main stream media. Create a talking point and ride it until it collapses into the dirt then create another and so on…

  3. RacingFan Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 1:02 am

    When I was a teen, ABC (I believe) had a series where top athletes from various sports competed against each other in various athletic events. Peter Revson (I believe) was representing auto racing. He finished third out of about a dozen athletes. A friend of mine, who was not a racing fan, said “and he just sits on his butt for a living”, kind of like the discussion in the recent TV ad with golfer Jim Furyk (who does great) and Clint Boyer. If you have never seen it, check it on YouTube.

    My Dad loved watching professional bowling. Many of them were probably not the greatest athletes in other sports. I used to watch professional billiards. I don’t know that Minnesota Fats was a good athlete, nor do I care. But, I admired his ability. Michael Jordan did not have much success with professional baseball. Who cares?

    Unfortunately, the state of competition in NASCAR has reached the point that I don’t know for certain that any of the current drivers is an all-time all-star driver. However, two of my favorite drivers from the past, David Pearson and Bobby Allison would clean McNabb’s clock if he tried to race against them.

  4. Bill B Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 6:56 am

    I agree that this non-issue is a complete waste of time but when this topic periodically comes up it would be nice if someone like McNabb would define exactly what constitutes an athlete.

  5. GinaV24 Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    agree completely that it is a distraction from the issues that the media should be discussing, but that’s the usual way they handle things these days.

    There are many reasons why NASCAR isn’t as popular as it was 8 years ago, but since BZF doesn’t recognize any issues, why should the media?

  6. Kelly Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Amen, of your best and spot on. I can’t stand seeing certain writers who are in a position to afford positive change and they are nothing but %^&* kissers for BZF. A name comes to mind with the initials of “JF” and works for a newswire service. One article sent many of us over the edge when is when this writer wrote a story after Richmond (much ado about nothing, imo) with a title of something like “Brian France steadies a unstable ship” WHAT????? Are you kidding us????? Does Brian threaten to pull these people’s access, or are they really that stupid?

    I cannot understand why Kevin Harvick got snarky and “tweeted” (a manly word if there ever was one) about Donovan, who the heck cars what any of these people think? I don’t, wasted energy and it is smoke and mirrors for the real issuses not being addressed. Fans are screaming, writers tell us how great the brass at Castle Daytona are, the racing is great, the stands are full, Jimmie J and Hms are legends..blah blah blah..Oh and Danica is the best thing in Sprint Cup..absurd all of it.

  7. William Wayne Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    McNabb now works for FoxSports1. Fox Sports paid millions to NASCAR to televise a bunch of non-athletes racing cars. Is McNabb the stupid one here or is Fox Sports.

    Now NBC Sports wants to do the same thing………They must be stupid too…………

  8. Chris Fiegler Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I Personally think that NASCAR Drivers are Athletes.

  9. Rcfx1 Says:
    November 27th, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Define the term ‘athlete’ completely first and then we can discuss it. Football, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis and any other sport has a necessary ability. I couldn’t imagine running up and down the soccer field or getting hit like a football player. Does it mean contact? running? jumping? endurance? Mental, physical, the heat, endurance, g-forces, all of this is part of racing but not other sports. The sweat is real, the injuries are real and the emotions are real. Back to my first point. Define it and then we can discuss it. McNabb’s job now is to shoot his mouth off. He’s after RGIII this week.