Hey … I’m writing a blog on NASCAR!!!
Well sort of.
I’ve never fully disclosed this little tidbit of information to the world but I am not a fan of NASCAR at all.
Now let’s make this clear, I’m not one of those fans that just blasts NASCAR for being too hillbilly for its own good, that has never watched a race and judges it based on perception, or is just a flat out hater.
When I was a kid watching a bunch of ESPN highlights and trying to do my best Chris Berman impersonation I actually attempted to watch a few races. Some Sundays I would kick back after the late Sportscenter and watch as stock cars sped around tracks at up to 200 mph in hopes of taking home a checkered flag. I knew about Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough and the other legends that graced the asphalt and knew a little bit of their history. I understood certain ins and outs and what the purpose of each race was… and I couldn’t get into it.
All sports are repetitive; throw the ball, score a touchdown, strike one, dump and chase, slam dunk, and so on and so forth. We see the same thing in each sport year in and year out. With Auto racing however, it’s pure torture.
Watching a car around and around and around for three hours gives me no redeeming factor. The crashes used to be cool until you saw people die on the racetrack. When Dale Earnhardt was killed after hitting a cement wall at 200 mph at the Daytona 500 I was done with NASCAR.
I cant get into a sport where fans say the most fun part of it is the fact that cars crash into each other and there is the possibility of death. Ask Lamar Odom about how much fun auto wrecks are. If that’s the fun in a race then I’ll pass.
(Funny story. I think it was my buddy Andrew who came up with the best way to describe how mundane NASCAR is to him and I.
Right around the time when NASCAR was taking over hockey’s spot after the lockout, which in hindsight is laughable now, and popularity was growing, he looked at me one day and said “if I wanted to watch cars go round and round and spend $8 on beer watching it I would buy a six pack and sit on the Capital Beltway and watch traffic.” To us this is all NASCAR is. There are no bone crushing hits, highlight catches or crazy goals, it’s drive, stop and go. Where’s the fun in that?)
So where does this whole rant come from? It’s courtesy of Seattle Seahawks WR Golden Tate.
Tate was watching the ESPY’s last week and when the category for Best Male Athlete came up he saw 5-time NCSC champ Jimmie Johnson’s name mixed in with Dirk Nowitzki and others. He decided to let his opinion of Johnson’s place in the pantheon of athletes be known on everyone’s favorite site, Twitter:
Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism.”
“I’ve driven a car on unknown roads at night at 90mph no big deal. No sign of athletism.
“Guarantee he couldn’t in million year play any SPORT.”
“Give me 6 months of training and I bet I could compete.”
Now could Tate compete in NASCAR as some bum off of the street? Hell no, he wouldn’t qualify for a race. But do I agree with him that Jimmie Johnson isn’t a real athlete? Yes.
Make no mistake, I’m not downplaying Johnson’s success. Winning five of anything in a row takes some serious skill. However, Tate is right when he says that driving a car shows no athleticism.
Johnson doesn’t show leadership qualities like a Dirk Nowitzki or an Aaron Rodgers, he doesn’t outwit defenders and make our jaws drop with his incredible offensive skill like Sidney Crosby or Rafael Nadal he just drives a car.
There is some skill in changing speeds and knowing when to pit and all that jazz, but are you really going to compare that to closing out an opponent like James Shields has done all year in leading the league in complete games or compare his 5 straight NCSC titles to Nicklas Lidstrom’s 7 Norris Trophies? No way.
Johnson is good at what he does, but he is no athlete. There is no stamina needed to fend off an opponent in crunch time, no hop in his step to beat a defender off of the dribble, and no standing on his head to keep his team ahead in the final minutes of a contest. He just drives a car.
While Johnson shouldn’t be made to feel like he’s beneath other athletes, he’s not on their level.
I’m sorry if you’re a NASCAR fan and you feel a certain way about what Tate said or about what I’m saying, but to me it’s true.
I tried to get into racing but it just isn’t an attention grabber. There’s nothing special about watching a guy go around in a circle 300 times in a race. I don’t care how good Jimmie Johnson is; I’d rather watch Golden Tate catch passes every Sunday because that takes real skill and work.
That to me that is a real athlete.