Tuesday, 15 October 2019

NASCAR: Why what’s ‘good for the sport’ has changed – Beyond the Flag

NASCAR: Why what’s ‘good for the sport’ has changed – Beyond the Flag
03 Oct

Drama in NASCAR quickly prompts comments such as “good for the sport”. But the level of drama that is “good for the sport” in 2019 is not what it once was.

Drama in NASCAR between two drivers, as it does in any sport, prompts two general reactions: one in favor of driver number one, and the other in favor of driver number two.

But it also prompts a reaction that both sides, and even those who wish not to get involved, generally experience, and that is the declaration that this kind of thing is “good for sport”.

References are made to what NASCAR used to be in the “good old days”, from the personalities of the most beloved drivers and of the most hated drivers to some of the rivalries that kept fans engaged week in and week out.

This has been the case after each of the first three races of the playoffs, first after Kyle Busch saw a top five result turn into a 19th place finish due to his run-in with a backmarker at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, then after Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon got into it at Richmond Raceway and then after Bowman and Wallace got into it at Charlotte Motor Speedway roval to the point where Wallace chucked his drink on Bowman when Bowman was receiving medical attention after the race.

But as fans well know, in NASCAR, things change.

Just ask any old school fans how they feel about the playoffs and stages.

The problem is that what comes along with these things is the fact that what was once great for the sport is nowhere near as beneficial.

There are certain levels of drama that not only do nothing to help the sport, but they only weaken the fanbase.

We’re told that drama is “good for the sport”, which makes sense considering the fact that it boosts website clicks, video views and social media impressions for those who discuss it. It certainly generates more attention.

But as four-time champion Jeff Gordon stated, this does absolutely nothing to actually benefit the sport itself.

And as it pertains to social media, therein lies the issue.

Unlike in the “good old days”, you now have people spending hours of their time on social whining and complaining and insulting everyone who doesn’t accept their point of view from behind a computer screen with absolutely no accountability whatsoever.

Gone are the days when watching your favorite driver win or even your least favorite driver lose resulted solely in joy, happiness and optimism when you’d watch it and then read about it in the newspaper the next day and then anxiously await the next race.

Now it’s all about who can tick off the most people on social media for the most amount of time from the time the checkered — heck, scratch that — the green flag waves.

Who cheated? Who’s overrated? Who sucks? Which fanbase is the worst? Who did the officials rig it for this week? Who was this week’s biggest crybaby? Who has the silver spoon in his mouth? Who is “triggered”? Better yet, who can I trigger? Who is an idiot for not believing what I believe even though his views have absolutely no effect on anything relevant in life? What NASCAR rule is trash this week?

Those are the ridiculous questions you have to ask yourself when you go on any kind of NASCAR-related social media post anymore because fans have become far more concerned with irritating everyone else than actually feeling good about themselves or simply accepting an unsatisfactory result every once in a while.

Drama can be good. Rivalries can be good. But when anyone can say anything with absolutely no threat of being held accountable, that is not good for NASCAR. By what skewed logic would this actually bring in new fans?

Really, it’s not good for any sport, but that brings up a separate point; even if this kind of thing did draw people in, there are several other sports out there that do a better job of it.

Just compare the fanbase sizes and social media interactions of NASCAR and other sports such as the NFL, NBA or MLB.

There’s no contest.

Yes, this pertains only to the aspect of social media. But really, social media has come to dominate the world of sports. It’s no longer a small and perhaps negligible detail like it was even 10 or 15 years ago.

You can argue that it brings out the passion of the fans who still actually watch NASCAR, but nobody has ever won a social media argument in the history of social media. There’s a saying that the end of the day, nothing gets accomplished and everyone leaves ticked off.

The unfortunate thing is that there is an element that exists within people for them to actually take joy in that to the point where it’s the highlight of race weekend. If you don’t believe me, just take a look after the next race.

NASCAR isn’t going to undergo a resurgence because a 26th place driver spins out Busch or throws a drink at a playoff driver or because Busch gets upset with a guy running 12 laps down and Twitter heats up afterward and your NASCAR tweets about how much of a crybaby Busch is are getting more retweets than usual.

First of all, those aren’t rivalries, and secondly, to suggest that the ensuing social media toxicity is “good for the sport” simply because it involves people talking is laughable.

Look at history, not just in NASCAR and not even just in sports. The events that get the most people talking are, generally speaking, negative events. They aren’t “good for the (parties involved)” simply because they trend on Twitter.

Quite frankly, it’s amazing that the same people who complain that NASCAR isn’t what it once was think that this is actually the case. It has really gotten to the point where the only defense of something being “good for the sport” has turned into fans simply hiding behind this flawed ideology.

On the flip side, that logic may be used to indicate that what worked in the past may work now. But as fans of anything well know, that isn’t the case, and time and time again, that has proven to be the case in NASCAR.

It it was still 1990, I might agree.

Yes, NASCAR has lost tons of fans over the years due to “silly” rule changes among other gimmicky implementations, and I do believe that some of those fans would come back if these changes were reverted.

But if drama is as “good for the sport” as we hear it is, NASCAR’s fanbase would be at least twice the size of what it is now.

It’s 2019, and that isn’t the case.

Just look at the first three playoff races, for crying out loud. Most fans will probably tell you who the drama involved before they can remember who actually won them.

And these are playoff races — not regular season races.

So where are the skyrocketing attendance figures, TV ratings and merchandise sales to illustrate how “good for the sport” this is?

They still don’t exist, and at this rate, they never will.

Next: Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time

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Is drama really “good for the sport” as it pertains to NASCAR? There are certainly cases where it can be, but the idea that all forms of it is going to put butts in the seats simply isn’t true in 2019 like it may have been several decades ago.

Source: https://beyondtheflag.com/2019/10/03/nascar-whats-good-sport-drama-changed/


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