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Wednesday, March 31, 2010
NASCAR Continues to Go its own Way

Just as the NHL and the other big 3 professional sports leagues continue to crack down on athlete misconduct on and off the field, NASCAR seems to be headed in the opposite direction. The NHL now forbids blindside hits to the head, and the NFL forbids almost any hit to the quarterback, but NASCAR has decided that it is permissible for one driver to intentionally crash his car into another driver during a race. I have a new column up on the Huffington Post that compares NASCAR's new (or reborn) "have it and have a good time" policy with the safety/image-first policies of the big 4 pro sports leagues.

Here's an excerpt:

Of course, not everything is off limits. While it may soon be a fineable offense to cough on or near a quarterback in the NFL (we don't want Tom Brady getting a cold, do we?) the NHL still tolerates (if not embraces) fighting. We can quibble with the NHL's decision to allow the fights, but we can understood why they made it--hockey fans love to see fights, and it's not so bad if the players beat on each other every now and then....But, it is a little hard to understand the latest ruling by NASCAR.

You can find the full column here. You can also follow me on twitter here.


It's not hard to understand at all. NASCAR wants the drivers to "police" themselves and doesn't want fans clamoring against them for trying to tell drivers how to handle themselves on the tracks. In front of cameras they'll give the lip service and what not, but behind closed doors, no one really cares except the driver that was wrecked and his fans.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 3/31/2010 9:13 PM  


Any driver could be the driver who was wrecked, so all of the drivers have a reason to care. As do all of the other drivers on the track who might be impacted by a flying or spinning car.

Blogger Gabe Feldman -- 3/31/2010 10:06 PM  

If the drivers cared enough, they'd be begging for a rule change. I have yet to see this happen. If so, please point me in the right direction.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 4/01/2010 2:15 PM  

A quick google search will show some driver complaints, but that misses the heart of this. The NHL and NFL did not make changes to rules to protect the safety of their players because the players begged for them. The leagues made the changes (rules regarding hits to the head, late hits, etc., and rules regarding the image of the game) because they (for a variety of reasons) wanted to protect their athletes. Given the danger of Edwards' actions to all of the other drivers (and spectators), it's surprising that NASCAR chose not to take any action to protect its athletes.

Blogger Gabe Feldman -- 4/01/2010 4:22 PM  

I completely agree that it is surprising, but NASCAR viewership has gone down in recent years considering the meteoric rise it had in the past decade. I honestly think that this stems from the fact that the ratings are going down and that they told the drivers at the beginning of the season to "police themselves." I'm not saying that this is what they had in mind, but there will be a good amount of fans that would be mad if they were to go the route that you seem to be advocating, and that's just the simple practicality of the matter irrespective of any legal theories.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 4/01/2010 6:46 PM  

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