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Quick NASCAR column I whipped up

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by budcrew08, May 22, 2008.

  1. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    I put this column together in about 30 minutes for my paper after the sports guys had all of their games rained out.

    Tell me what you think.

    Thursday, May 22
    America loves a good love-hate relationship, especially in sports. As in, people love to hate those who are good at what they do or certain teams.
    Red Sox fans don't like the Yankees, and vice versa, Giants fans don't like the Cowboys, and the list goes on and on in the stick-and-ball sports.

    In NASCAR, it's a main part of why the sport is so popular in the first place.

    On May 3, fighting for a win at the short track in Richmond, Va., Kyle Busch, driving the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving the No. 88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, bumped with three laps to go. Earnhardt, near the top of the track, was spun out, and Kyle went to finish second.

    After the race, Earnhardt had no hard feelings, but warned, mostly joking, that the track had better make sure it had enough security to escort Busch out of the racetrack.

    The next week at Darlington, Busch was booed by nearly all of the 100,000 fans in attendance, mostly fans of Junior, the most popular driver in the sport. Then last week at the All-Star race, he and his team bowed to the fans to the sound of 150,000 cascading boos.

    But in a sport such as NASCAR, a driver like Busch is necessary for the sport to survive.
    He's talented enough that he's not afraid to take some crazy chances on the track. It's the "checkers or wreckers" philosophy - you either win, or go home on the back of a flatbed tow truck.

    It's nothing new, and that's what's brought in the massive amount of fans. In the earlier days of the sport, guys like Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough fought it out to claim NASCAR supremacy, and if you had to spin a guy out to get it done, that's what you did. And the fans would boo, but that's the point. They love to hate. You get a reaction out of the fans, who want nothing more then for their favorite driver to exact revenge the next Sunday.

    More recently, in the '80s and '90s, you had guys like Darrell Waltrip, Geoff Bodine, Tim Richmond and especially Dale Earnhardt Sr., all fighting for that supremacy. Fans came out in record numbers, driven by the hero-villain aspect of the sport, and in fact, one report says that NASCAR is the second-most watched sporting event on TV behind the NFL.

    But within the last decade, the art of the hero-villain had disappeared for the most part. Sometimes, there would be confrontation between two or three drivers, and there would be some pushing and shoving on the race track and in the pits by team members, but one visit to the NASCAR trailer and everything was over.

    Kyle Busch brings a little of what drove people (no pun intended) to NASCAR to begin with. He drives on the edge, isn't afraid to say what he thinks and doesn't care if the fans boo him or cheer him.

    In recent years, for different reasons, some long-time fans have left the sport, and NASCAR struggles to get new fans, especially those who think it's just a bunch of guys in cars turning left. Having the hero-villain aspect, especially with a talented, brash driver like the 23-year-old Busch, may be the key to getting the old fans, who remember the era of Petty and Earnhardt Sr., back, and gaining new fans.

    It can only be good for the sport of NASCAR.
  2. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    But in a sport such as NASCAR, a driver like Busch is necessary for the sport to survive.

    This is the only statement I have a problem with. NASCAR was doing just fine before Kyle Busch, some would argue even better. Busch adds drama to the sport. But so has Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and even his big brother Kurt. The casual fan doesn't have to look far or long to find drivers with short tempers and sharp tongues. It's what makes NASCAR interesting and fun to cover. A number of drivers are not afraid to speak their minds or show their emotions, even Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been known to say some silly and regrettable things.
    And it's a tired argument -- that NASCAR needs these kinds of rivalries to survive and compete with the big four. I would argue NASCAR has surpassed the NBA and NHL in popularity. NASCAR would argue its second only to the NFL. I am guilty of writing about some of the feuds that occur during the season. Mainly because some of the things the drivers say are hard to ignore. But also because writing about tension and discord is interesting.
    What you wrote is not wrong, but it's nothing new either. Dig a little deeper and find out what exactly Busch said in response to all the boos and criticism. Use his words to describe how fans respond to his actions on the race track and what other drivers say about him. They are out there and some of it is pretty entertaining.
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