Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Memo to NASCAR Nation

This man drives for Jack Daniels. Or Cobra Commander. Take your pick.

Your sport is just like everyone else's (except that in everyone else's sport, you have to make a right turn once in a while). The talent goes where the money is, which means that the gent yelling on the local sports talk radio station about how there's no loyalty left now that Junior (Ernhardt, not Griffey) has gone to Hendrick Motorsports needs to get over it.

First of all, NASCAR has always been the most heavily commercialized of the American sports. Doubt me? Then ask a fan about which car their favorite driver's in. It's the "#88 Snickers" or the "Jack Daniels car". They're driving brands. The cars don't have names, they have bar codes and SKU numbers. And I may be old-fashioned, but I'd rather root for, as Seinfeld put it, laundry, than for an endcap filler. It's about the money, it's always been about the money, and the drivers are finally waking up to that.

Sooner or later, the fans will, too. Just like baseball fans did, and then football and basketball fans. At this rate, we'll get the great NASCAR steroid scandal around 2036, when Tony Stewart's helmet splits in two and shotguns off his suspiciously swollen noggin, and Cale Yarbrough refuses to attend a record-setting performance at Lowe's Motor Speedway as a result.

We can only hope.
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