Violence — The Missing Part in NASCAR?
By Ron Fleshman On Fri, Feb. 07, 2014
When the powers that be began to announce what we already know—that NASCAR was going to change the Chase to have excitement equal a “seventh game moment,” but that won’t happen unless there is violence. Americans love violence. They left baseball because there wasn’t enough violence and sided with the NFL. It’s complicated, but the truth rings true.
I’m an old man, but I have a twenty something son. He loves the NFL and cheers when a defensive player nearly decapitates the quarterback if it’s on his team. He loves the WWE. He loves to see the big guy throw the other “rassler” out of the ring. He ignores baseball because the only time anything exciting happens is when the catcher blocks the plate and has a collision or a fight erupts. He loves the dunk, but hates games where teams play and no one gets hit in the mouth or no one talks trash. Richard Sherman’s tirade with Erin Anderson was talked about for a long time while the game was not. That’s why most of the things NASCAR changed will not be enough to bring the multitudes back to the sport.
It’s been a long litany of changes. After the lull of the mid 2000’s, NASCAR thought a change in who won the championship would bring back the excitement. Those of us lifers thought it was silly to have a ten-race playoff. Immediately, one driver dominated the proceedings. Bristol changed its usual excitement by changing the track which was the hottest ticket in sports. No longer is that the case. Tracks that had good racing were replaced with tracks that historically did not have good races. Dominant teams continued to dominate. Where once there were many winners, two teams won nearly half of the races. One manufacturer dominated and the others floundered.
And yet, we fiddle with a championship that really is not the problem with the lack of attendance and enthusiasm. We want violence. We want to see only one lane at Bristol where a faster car has to bump the guy holding up out of the way, We want the “big one” at Daytona and Talladega. We want to see the underdog win. We want to see the participants get hacked like Richard Sherman. We want more YouTube video of the confrontation between Tony Stewart and Joey Logano posted than another ho-hum runaway by any number of drivers. We want more Martinsvilles and fewer races at Kansas, California, Chicago, and New Hampshire. We want more violence.
Many of us are racing purists that want to see a good race, but the masses want that violence. So many still remember the late Dale Earnhardt, who raced like it was his last and made sure that they knew he was coming to the front, even to the point that he was willing to move the one in front of him to get him out of the way. That’s the violence I’m talking about. The NASCAR that kept growing didn’t need a new points system, a Lucky Dog, or a double file restart. They only needed competition and just a little bit of violence. NASCAR is trying to bring back that excitement, but it’s missing the point. Instead of making constant changes, competition needs to be addressed. Maybe, we should quit making the championship the end-all, and maybe putting less emphasis on these drivers being gentlemen. The sponsors want their drivers to be a corporate spokesman, but at what cost?
Tracks are removing seats and fans continue to stay away from the tracks and the television screens. Maybe the competition should be evaluated and the emphasis on the championship should be addressed. I’ll give credit for those that be for trying, but only when NASCAR addresses that thirst for violence, will it be worthwhile. The requirement to do that is to re-think the series, and it appears that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.