NASCAR wins the sport argumentWritten by Matt Sussman | | email@example.com
Countless naysayers have looked at NASCAR and derisively said, “Well, that’s not a sport because … ”
They followed that up with a bevy of characteristics that accurately describe NASCAR, but don’t necessarily rule it out as a sport. They dust off their dictionary from the 1930s, look up the definition of sport and look down on auto racing with disdain.
“The drivers aren’t athletes! Just look at their bodies. They’re not like other athletes.”
This is the big argument I hear a lot. A driver’s body is not often shown, since it’s hidden inside a racing suit littered with dozens of logos. But many drivers lift weights, such as Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and Dale Jarrett. Others may not have strict workout regimens, but they still have to be in shape.
Now look at ex-Indians and Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That’s a 290-pound frame you see. He throws fastballs with amazing speed and accuracy. People don’t question his 40-time and dismiss him as an athlete. Many other players in baseball have bad bodies. (Yes, Gerald Laird, we’re talking about you.)
Punters and place-kickers in football don’t exactly have the muscle mass of other positions. In fact, in a back alley fight, I’d put money on a NASCAR driver to take out a punter with his bare hands, especially if the punter is an empathizer of Kurt Busch.
Looking at the body is an easy way out of the argument. Well, don’t leave so fast. We have more to talk about.
“Most of the competition is done on the car. Building an engine isn’t sports.”
There’s a lot of mechanical prowess that has to be done prior to the race that ensures a driver succeeds. This is no secret. It’s also not private knowledge that professional golfers use their own clubs, custom fit by companies who are good at making them.
“There’s not nearly as much physical exertion to race a car than it is to play some other sport.”
Yeah, and apples don’t nearly have the glossy red color or flavor of oranges. I, therefore, dismiss apples as a fruit and expect no counterargument.
Most athletes have to endure contact from other athletes while maintaining control of a ball and running in all sorts of directions. NASCAR drivers are always sitting down.
But while in that position, they sustain G-forces for about three hours, battle with keeping the wheel precisely in the right alignment and have to do all that while enduring triple-digit temperatures for more than three hours. (Plus, they only turn left, a concept so ridiculous, baseball runners do it, too.)
This isn’t a plea for people to drop everything and love NASCAR.
Hey, I don’t love tennis or boxing, but I’m not about to classify their activities as anything other than a sport. What’s not a sport, but a sight to behold, is how the quiet town of Brooklyn, Mich., swells into a temporary metropolis during race weekends.
And winning “sport/not a sport” arguments probably isn’t a sport either, but it sure is fun.