Voices from the Cheap Seats · Jeff Meyer · Friday April 13, 2012
No! I’m not talking about losing faith in God, that’s just absurd! What I am talking about is NASCAR overload.
While Frontstretch’s very own Professor of Speed, Mark Howell is in Boston trying to convince a slew of highly educated folks, the type of folks who attend conferences to hear other highly educated folks orate about highly educational stuff, that NASCAR is a really cool thing, here I sit wondering who or what is gonna save me. What is it gonna take to make it ‘special’ to me again?
If you go way back in the archives and read some of my columns from years ago, you might get the impression that I had more zeal for the sport…and you’d be right. I’ve always said that I am a fan first and a writer/journalist/blogger/idiot (take your pick) second. That is still the case. The problem is, is that I’m just not as fan(antic) as I once was. And I think I figured out why.
When I was growing up during the ‘70s, we were poor. Oh, I never lacked for anything, I always was fed, had clothes, a bike, toys and generally every basic need that most young children have. In fact, it wasn’t till later in life, looking back, that I came to know the full scope of how poor we were. I just didn’t know it at the time, which I guess is a good way to be poor if you have to be. The point is, I was happy. The bigger point is, for example, when we got to go to McDonald’s or the local A&W or some other ‘special’ place, it was just that, special!
We didn’t get to go out to eat like folks do today. Nowadays, going through the drive thru is an almost daily occurrence for most Americans. McDonald’s is now almost considered ‘low rent’. Those fries that tasted sooooo delicious when we where younger, now have a ‘shelf life’ of perhaps five minutes! You best eat them first while they are hot or they positively suck! Going out to eat is now as common to most of us as putting on our socks which, by the way, more people should do when they do go out to eat!
Coming from a devoutly Christian family, going to church on Sunday was a must, not an option. Now I realize that it wasn’t until the early ‘80s that NASCAR races were even broadcast with any regularity, but the sentiment was there for football, the sentiment being you hoped like heck that the pastor wasn’t long winded so you could get home and watch the game! We didn’t have VCRs, DVRs or even cable and the like back then. You had your three basic networks (and PBS of course) and if you missed something, you just plain missed it!
The reason and point of all this rambling reminiscence is simply this; with the sometimes vulgar opulence that we enjoy in this country, nothing is ‘special’ anymore. Not clear enough for you? Try this: NASCAR’s obscene opulence over the last 10 to 15 years is the reason ‘hardcore’ fans become semi-interested casual fans.
It is no longer ‘special’.
Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I do still love to attend a good race. I love the sound, the smell, the people (NOT, sometimes, the smell of the people!) but I, like so many others out there, no longer go out of the way, or make the extra efforts we once might have made to attend a race. Why should we?
By staying home and watching my television, I can see more racing action at all but two of the tracks currently on the circuit, than I could if I actually attended. (Those two tracks being Bristol and Martinsville). And I don’t have to wear any clothes doing it if I don’t want to!
Oh rats! I have something to do this week, I’m gonna miss the race! Not to worry, simply DVR it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most people, myself included, don’t give a soiled rat’s behind if we are missing the race or not. Most people DVR it anyway, if for no other reason than to be able to skip the infinite number of commercials.
Remembering back to when I started this writing gig, we actually had to wait for the paper to print (or go online) to get the starting lineup to fill in the weekly race pool. Not now! Not only can you watch every qualifying live, but every single practice too! Still not enough for you? Well just tune in to one of the gazillion NASCAR related shows that will rehash and explain to you what you just saw, just in case you couldn’t figure it out for yourself.
Speaking of NASCAR themed analysis shows and the expert analysts…ever notice the first four letters of the word analyst? Says it all for me!
It just ain’t ‘special’ like it used to be. You used to have to put forth an effort to be a fan, now you don’t. It’s all become blasé.
Just like alcohol or drugs, anything to excess is bad for you. NASCAR is no different. They’ve made it too easy and now have to cater to the stupidest person, who just MAY be happening to watching that day, and in the process, they ruin it for all of us. When was the last time you watched a football game and they explained (for the umpteenth time) what a ‘first down’ was? That’s right, you haven’t!
Part of what made NASCAR great was the enthusiasm with which the real fans used to talk about it. If they happened to get a not so interested friend to watch or attend a race with them, that friend would ask questions if they wanted some aspect of the sport explained to them, and the fan would gladly tell them! That’s the real way to win a fan over.
There has to be something special about it all.
With today’s overkill and over exposure, it hardly is. I liked it better when it was less popular!
Guess I’m getting old.
Stay off the wall,
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