|Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs|
"Co-dependent," "symbiotic," and "dysfunctional marriage" are terms that can be used to describe a host of relationships that exist between NASCAR and the many entities it encounters. These labels are not negative in connotation, simply descriptive.
Within the day-to-day activities NASCAR takes part with their sponsors, drivers, team owners, tracks, fans and media, a perception exists that is at once subjective and real, since one’s perception colors his/her reality.
Recently NASCAR has fallen into a maelstrom of criticism due to their swift and sudden actions against one of their Sprint Cup drivers, Denny Hamlin, because of his post-race comments from Phoenix about the Gen 6 car and the lackluster races they have produced.
Hamlin, fined $25,000 by NASCAR this past week for those comments, feels he was unjustly punished for speaking his mind in a way he feels was not detrimental to NASCAR.
NASCAR, obviously, disagreed with that and levied the fine.
The court of public opinion weighed in immediately.
Many cried Hamlin’s freedom of speech was being infringed upon whereas others felt his comments were not well-placed.
As part of NASCAR’s procedures, the party NASCAR has leveled punitive measures against has the opportunity to appeal. Hamlin is taking that opportunity and hopes he will be vindicated.
NASCAR has made its point. A point that, unfortunately, seems to have been clouded by their perceived harshness.
It baffles me a bit as to why the outcry from so many. Since Big Bill France created NASCAR he ruled with an iron fist. It was his way or the highway. France’s son, Bill France Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps in how he controlled NASCAR.
Now under its third France leadership people seem shocked and appalled by the many decisions brought down.
In marriages decisions are made, actions implemented, and perceptions created about which outsiders looking in have no real concept of the reality. The outside world looks at the marriage and makes assumptions.
NASCAR and its marriage between all of the different entities - polygamy – have so many assumptions from the outside world. If NASCAR allowed the outside to flavor their marriages it would fail.
Right or wrong, over-reactive or lenient, NASCAR will have its supporters and detractors. But NASCAR will always rule in its best interest at the time.
Time has shown that regardless of what the fans think of how NASCAR manages things within its sport, they will continue to watch.
NASCAR knows the court of public opinion is alive and well. They are aware that with social media their decisions will be dissected and lambasted at nearly every level. This affects NASCAR not.
The sport is family owned and operated. So many businesses and people owe their livelihood to NASCAR. The sanctioning body has so many relationships to juggle and that takes an enormous scope. Mistakes can be made – or not – but at the end of the day it’s NASCAR’s job to protect the sport as they see fit.
It is gratifying for me to know that the court of public opinion is alive and well. Whether the majority agree or not about NASCAR’s most recent actions, the many people who have opinions can voice them. It may not change circumstances, and some fans may wander away, but most will be compelled to stay because, after all, it’s NASCAR.
I have no doubt that this, too, shall pass.Denny Hamlin's story will fade and another story will take its place.
In the meantime, I am thankful for another topic to examine, and for having the court of public opinion to embrace as yet another reason why I love NASCAR.
Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.