The Frontstretch: Clap, Clap Goodbye... How I Lost My Job With SI by Thomas Bowles -- Monday February 28, 2011

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Clap, Clap Goodbye... How I Lost My Job With SI

Did You Notice? · Thomas Bowles · Monday February 28, 2011


500 feet before the finish line of the 53rd Daytona 500, Trevor Bayne started cruising towards an impossible dream. He was about to become the youngest winner of the Great American Race, driving a car whose co-owner, Glen Wood, is on the short list for the NASCAR Hall of Fame despite last winning nearly a decade ago. As a record-setting race (74 lead changes, 16 caution flags, Valentine’s Day-like two-car drafts) came to a close, it was clear these memorable few seconds transcended them all.

That’s when the atmosphere at NASCAR’s 2.5-mile oval changed into something rare; fans of all 43 drivers uniting as one, they stood and roared in approval of the type of achievement you don’t see in person but once a lifetime. So as that No. 21 Ford crossed the finish line, the walls of the infield couldn’t keep out 21 years of passion for motorsports in my own heart. Before I could control it, my hands were coming together to join them, caught up with fans and media alike in a moment we could all appreciate – but one fans and media are told never, ever to experience together.

That day marked my first and last claps working as a NASCAR reporter for
Five years ago, covering cars going around in circles seemed a virtual impossibility for my sports career. Instead, 18 months out of Syracuse University with a Master’s in Broadcast Journalism my days were Office Space-like: fill a FedEx tub, ship it and make sure nothing gets lost. Those are the days of a lowly production assistant, working for a sports network out in New York City where opportunity knocked, but only if you put in the time: years as a television slave stocking tapes, making those TPS reports hum (in the form of logging footage) and even getting the manager a coffee.

Tom Bowles

It was here, in the midst of one of those mindless days, Sports Illustrated made a sudden, life-changing phone call to me in 2006. Turns out they’d discovered my writing here, on, then a fan site where I covered a sport I’d loved since I was eight years old. It was on a summer day in 1989 when I turned on the television and watched an orange-clad, No. 17 Tide Chevrolet driven by Darrell Waltrip wrestle its way into the favorite athlete portion of my heart; stock car racing was then drilled into my soul. Since his retirement in 2000, I had channeled that passion into a side job, writing for smaller sites on various NASCAR topics I followed with gut instincts built from a lifetime of devotion, knowledge, and persistence toward following stock car racing. To go from the small-time to an audition opportunity with SI online, courtesy of an expanding department was the equivalent of an American Idol dream turned reality.

That’s where the story takes its inevitable turn, not all that dissimilar to thousands of stock car crewmen, drivers and executives who gave it all up, building their careers on the back of hard work and sacrifice. Giving up the full-time job was what the movie tells you to do, but they skip over all those risky scenes of worry, canned food and sleepless nights about whether it’s all going to work out in the end. I still have my checkbook register that showed $41.72 to my name before getting over the hump.

But I did. SI offered me a freelance contract, one that kept growing as I successfully pursued a NASCAR television career that earned me an Associate Producer credit and two Emmy Awards. In the meantime, my reporting career became increasingly influential in the sport. When Mauricia Grant, the African-American NASCAR official brought a $250 million lawsuit on racial discrimination, sexual harassment and other charges I had the first one-on-one in-person interview. I sniffed out Tony Stewart’s move to driver/owner, was on top of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s crew chief carousel and broke the story of the old Petty Enterprises’ “death” on national radio.

Two weeks ago, I was covering my fifth 500, ironic seeing five seconds of my own clapping brought it all crashing down. You see, no matter how much of a Kodak moment happens around you, many insist “sacred rule #1” of being a sportswriter is Don’t Cheer in the Press Box. Even smiling in public—revealing emotion—stamps you with the Scarlet Letter of bias for eternity. It’s a fatal flaw, the old story goes, corrupting the impartial analysis, factual and critical thinking skills that make media members “larger than life” compared to the fans that read us. Defending my position on Twitter was enough to break media rule #2, “Apologize Profusely When Important People Think You Have Sinned.” And suddenly, three days later, those defenses led to the perfect “three strikes and you’re out of a job” conclusion.

Except my position hasn’t changed. I took those ethics courses in journalism just like everyone else; I understand the importance of impartiality in reporting. But last time I checked, where you’re supposed to be judged is whether that actually shows up on paper. Just like Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001, an incident that I’m certain left some media crying events can overcome all of us in exceptional circumstances. Understanding works both ways, in times of tragedy and triumph; so if we agree on nothing else, know that what we saw last Sunday, whether you’re reading as a NASCAR fan or an interested observer certainly qualifies. Bayne’s victory was a ray of hope for a sport beaten down the last five years, a 30 percent ratings decline for this race alone from ’05-‘10 spurring more criticism and negative storylines than the careers of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan combined. I was far from the only reporter who clapped that day; the sad part is I’m the only one bold enough to admit it in the face of peers overly focused on the values of reporting rather than the act itself.

Turns out the modern, professional media is ignorant of a changing culture beyond their control, one where “just the facts, ma’am” is increasingly replaced with the instant gratification of “just the facts, ma’am… and here’s how I think those facts should get interpreted. What do you think?” It’s a place where the “official” media claim to follow the rules, then give us their opinion seconds afterwards on verified Twitter accounts while hanging “off the record” with the athletes they cover during the week. (That’s all something that happened fifty years ago, by the way, when these presupposed “values” existed but the general public wasn’t able to take a peek until the memoirs got written). Even the most stringent, by-the-book newsman is caught by the modern push of facts with commentary in reporting.

So the first step to a solution is recognizing the clapping problem, which is that we’re all inherently biased: wired to judge, love, hate, and experience every emotion in between, parts of the brain we can’t shut off like a water fountain. The key, then, to me is to know how to turn that off in your writing, a story focused on getting the facts right first before transitioning into actual analysis. Fact: I clapped, and then shook Trevor Bayne’s hand on the way out along with many assembled media in attendance. Analysis: I still wrote a well-reasoned, well-thought out post-race column on a variety of topics that would have happened if Bayne or Kyle Busch had won. It’s a statement readers will have to agree or disagree with, as in many ways they hold the key: without them, there’s no stories or sport to write about in the first place, no future for me as I’m settling into an unemployment market too many of them find themselves in. Let’s not get all holier-than-thou about this stuff; sports, in its purest form are glorified entertainment for us all. Some people are just fortunate to write about it and get paid.

Perhaps that’s why amateurs in increasing numbers, watching events unfold from their couch are getting read just as much as the modern media these days.
Years ago, a good friend gave me a quote I keep in my wallet: “There’s a fine line between fear and faith.” Writing this column comes fraught with risk, my future undefined beyond this point. But this site – whose assets I purchased, with the goal of a new, independent-based journalism voice two years ago – is run on the principle of writing without fear. How could I stand up to 24 writers here, most of whom I consider family after years of building a vision and say I couldn’t tackle my own termination? If someone had come to us, insisting their livelihood was cut because of a few rounds of applause I’d have my staff seeking a one-on-one interview in a heartbeat.

I know the consequences; even at 29 years old, these words could leave me permanently dangling on the wrong side of the NASCAR fence. But if a supposed lapse of ethics proves to be my downfall, despite an undying passion and thirst for knowledge regardless of the consequences, so be it. At least I can look in the mirror at the end of the night, smile and give a round of applause for staying true to myself.

Even if that display is powerful enough to cost me a career.

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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03/01/2011 12:58 AM

I read your SI article and it was excellent. Didn’t detect any bias though your enthusiasm showed through perfectly.

I wonder how they retain the services of Heyman if they’re so concerned with ethics. The guy has enough grudges and biases to fill a stadium to the point I stopped reading him years ago.

I think you might want to consider a third possibility….. maybe SI was looking for any reason at all to get rid of you. The popularity of FS, the new Nascar writers on the site that probably make less than you do, the current climate of cost cutting, etc etc.

03/01/2011 01:02 AM

Not that it will help pay your mortgage, but I just deleted SI from my favorites. I will replace it with Frontstretch. Good Luck!

03/01/2011 01:10 AM

Bravo for standing up for what you believe in…How can TV commentators be allowed to cheer on live TV, even recorded when they do, especially if it involves tears of joy over a family member’s success, yet showing honest emotion cost you your job, just because you owned up to it? I’ve always admired your honest reporting, never once saw evidence of partiality…and I say SHAME ON YOU to the chicken-hearted media in that media box who applauded, then lied about it.

That race was the first time in several years that I jumped up and down and cheered a victory…and I am no more a Trevor Bayne fan than the next guy. It was an exciting and heart-warming victory that will be talked about for years, and I say if you DIDN’T cheer, there’s something wrong with you.

03/01/2011 01:37 AM

No cheering in the press box. Or in the media center. But I am sorry you lost your job.

03/01/2011 03:07 AM

Anyone that close to that very special win by a special group of racers just doesn’t get how much history and even future was involved. They just don’t get the whole deal. I guess there should not have been any reporters in that long line when Sr finally got the 500 win. There should have not been any reporters with tears in their eyes on that fateful day when we lost Sr. Just like there should have been no happiness over the win with the Wood family and young Mr Bayne. All three I mentioned were very special to the sport and deserved honest emotions, like happiness, joy, sadness. The criticism over reporters clapping for the Wood brothers win is unwarranted to say it as cleanly as I can. Funny, it’s fine when the booth shills do it for drivers, cars, teams, sponsors, in fact it gets scripted there. It had nothing to do with good or poor reporting. It had to do with celebrating something earned and enjoyed by the vast majority.

03/01/2011 06:53 AM

Do I have this right? An institution owned by CN-freaking-N fired you for BIAS?

Sorry to hear it Tom, but you’re better at the Frontstretch anyway.

Bill B
03/01/2011 07:10 AM

That sucks Tom.
Let’s get this straight. You get fired for showing emotion out of sight of the public and yet Fox doesn’t even muzzle Darrell Waltrip when he broadcasts blatant favortism and conflict of interests to millions of people on air.
What’s wrong with that picture.

03/01/2011 07:29 AM

No cheering in the press box. None. It’s really not that difficult to understand.

Sucks that you lost your job. Perhaps firing off angry Tweets at those being critical of the cheering media wasn’t the best idea, eh? Maybe that’s what cost you the gig, not the clapping the itself.

03/01/2011 07:34 AM

I have no problem with your actions Tom. You’re ethics are right on in my opinion. It doesn’t matter what you are reporting on, people are human and relationships develop. It is only natural for people to develop emotions, positive or negative, whether that be for individuals, organizations or history in general. What is important is that you are able to report in an objective fashion. For what its worth, you have gained a fan from this article. Good luck!

The Mad Man
03/01/2011 07:42 AM

Funny how week after week Darrell Waltrip and his brother can sit in the broadcast booth, shill for products and one make of car, cheerlead for their/Brain Farce’s favorite drivers, and none of the Kool Aid drinkers with media credentials take them to task for it. It’s only the non-credentialled writers who point out the massive conflicts of interests, lack of professionalism, and extreme bias that’s exhibited weekly by the Waltrip brothers.

Sorry you lost your job Tom. Although I don’t always agree with you, I agree with your right to say/write it.

As an old saying goes, “I’ve quit better jobs than this”. Hopefully you find a better organization to write for in addition to your work here.

03/01/2011 07:51 AM

Tom that sucks, Interesting that SI would fire you for doing what DW has done for years?????

And to the 16 year old Randy Goldman,,what goes around comes around, see you in the uneployment line some day pal, you are a complete and utter ass. I still don’t know why the good people here at Frontstretch haven’t blocked your IP address.

Stephen HOOD
03/01/2011 08:15 AM

Just for clarification, television commentators are paid to provide opinion and commentary. Daryl Waltrip is allowed to root for Junior or cry when Michael wins because he is not a journalist. When a journalist begins to do what Daryl does, the person is no longer a journalist or at least the type of journalist that SI was paying Tom Bowles to be.

I am a pastor and often times when a pastor is fired for some minor offense there is a sense of indignation. “Heck, I’m only human.” “I only did what anybody would have done.” Yet, the person is a pastor and they are expected to uphold a certain code of behavior and if you step outside the bounds, you often get fired. I don’t know if its fair or if the system needs to be changed, but a code of conduct exits in every profession and one shouldn’t be surprised when one gets fired for violating one of the codes. Part of being a professional means adhering to the code.

Even though cheering for Trevor at the end of the 500 seems natural and normal, apparently there are a number of editors that disagree. Tom Bowles got fired and a number of other reporters were sent warnings, so the cheering or clapping or whatever happened in the press box (the reporting these days) seems to have touched a nerve. Maybe Tom is the sacrificial lamb. But, my advice to Tom if Tom wants to continue be a reporter is to lay off the righteous indignation and assume a professional posture. His other choice is to become a different kind of writer or go back to stuffing shipping crates.

03/01/2011 08:31 AM

Who the heck is this no name, Randy Goldman? He wrote a lot of useless drivel to say what? I still haven’t figured it out, wait a minute, is he jealous?
Why can’t you clap in the press box? Are you saying that a person can’t applaud a good thing and remain a professional? My answer to that is bullhockeypuck! Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500 is the best thing that could have happened to NASCAR! Believe me regardless of who says what, NASCAR liked it also! How many articles were written in the last week about returning to the roots of the sport? Underfunded teams do have a chance and so on? As far as I am concerned Trevor winning as an underdog WAS worth cheering about, regardless of who you are, or what your profession is.

As long as the writing is unbiased what does it matter? Some highly educated person decided that if a journalist shows emotion he/she can no longer be impartial? BULLHOCKEYPUCK!

Jack K
03/01/2011 08:33 AM

Randy Goldman — why don’t you take your hater comments to a site that cares? You’ll be looking long and hard. Sorry to hear your terrible news Tom — you’re a great writer!

03/01/2011 09:15 AM

“Bill B” you are on it man. DW Boogity has been covering for Michael for years on Fox. Michael is marginal at best. yea he waxes philosophic about being a “two-time” 500 champ. Yea, maybe 1 1/2 times. And the truth be told his owner gave his life to prove that he or unknown junior were the right choice. Anyone remember the atmosphere in 2000-01 about Dale hiring MW? Most people thought he was crazy. Anf my final word on that is if Dale was alive MW would be a much better racer than he is. Iron Head would have made sure of that!

But DW isn’t subtle about his bias of MW and Fox, like their News division, doesn’t give a dam about bias guys and gals, not one iota.

Now is this day of discussion on “journalism ethics” on one hand I really don’t sweat Fox’s bias in racing—hell it’s a sport guys. They don’t have their finger on the nuclear button…Now the true “news” division, well that’s a nuther story. Bias crept into to Fox News years ago and it grows daily like a cancer. The lies and half baked crap that comes out of that division is absoltely astounding. So please let’s don’t talk about journalism ethics today. Journalsim—TV, print, blogs, whatever, is all about money (the Big Mo) more than it is about anything else. Mo Money Mo Money Mo Money. It’s always been a for profit bidness, of course. But it is way different today, especially for Fox News to survive and proliferate. So please when we get into a discussion about journalism ethics, where do we start? It’s all over the map and interpreted in all sorts of ways by the same people on different days. They ain’t no handbook for this. It’s like the old adage, better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. That’s what “journalism” is today.

Sorry you lost your job man. Thruthfully I was 50-50 on you as a writer. But I don’t want to see a person lose their job, especially over this.

paul Sparks
03/01/2011 09:15 AM

Tom, at worst, Cnnsi should have issued a warning. Sorry to hear of a short-sighted decision by them but often when one door closes, another opens. You can be a fan and be objective, and the late David Poole and Tom Higgins could be examples of that.

03/01/2011 09:23 AM

Bill B
03/01/2011 09:24 AM

So, if you were a journalist covering the terrorist act on 9/11 and you saw people jumping to their deaths, you would be breaking a code to shed a tear? (BTW I’m not suggesting Baine’s 500 win and 9/11 are even in the same zip code as far as events go).
I tend to agree with someone above who stated that the real error may have been posting on Twitter after the fact. My advice to anyone that has a professional career of any kind, stay off Twitter and Facebook unless you want to censor what you say, the pictures you post, etc.. There is rarely any common ground between being yourself versus toeing any company’s line. So why bother joining any social network if you have to worry about what you post bleeding over into your professional life. You aren’t the first Tom. I have read articles about teachers, public officials, college students, etc, being fired/expelled/denied entry for something that they posted. Hell ask Denny Hamlin about twattering.

03/01/2011 09:51 AM

My Dad gives me SI for Christmas every year (despite telling him I won’t read it) so when it comes in the mail, it goes straight to the recycle bin! This makes me feel even better about doing it! I know it was a place where you could ‘build your career’ and get paid better, but I hope there’s a far better place for you in the future. SI is NOT a motorsports magazine, never ever has been, never ever will be. By the time it comes in the mail, I’ve read all that and more a week before online or heard it on Sirius Radio. Good Luck my friend, you’ll make it.

Kevin from PA
03/01/2011 10:09 AM

Tom claps and is fired by SI.

Peter King reads into a quote from the NFL commissioner, adds his own select words to get a few more hits before the Superbowl, and is still probably the highest paid sports writer.

Sorry you lost your job, Tom. Basically SI used a 1940’s journalism rule in a today’s “24 hour Entertainment information!!!!” world.

Arthur Levine
03/01/2011 10:24 AM

“…It’s only the non-credentialled writers who point out the massive conflicts of interests, lack of professionalism, and extreme bias that’s exhibited weekly by the Waltrip brothers.”

By “non-credentialed writers,” the commenter must mean the ones sitting on their couches, who will never get near the Waltrip brothers and say it to their faces.

In fact, I suspect if they were fortunate enough to meet then face to face, they’d slobber all over them just for the brush with greatness.

Oh, how easy it is to rip when you don’t have to back up your criticisms with your face, or even your real name, or even have to worry about having all the facts to buttress your argument.


While this writer’s cheering in the press box was unprofessional (I mean, this is just not that hard), writing 10,000 words trying to defend an indefensible argument just shows what a fool he is.

And poorly-written, at that.

The most self-indulgent crap I’ve read in eons. Yet I was compelled to go right to the end, as long as it took, just to see what he’d come up with next.

Arthur Levine
03/01/2011 10:25 AM

It’s simple, really.

You want to cheer? Buy a ticket and cheer all you like.
You’re working? Shut your trap.

03/01/2011 10:33 AM

Goldman, can you ever shut the F up? No? I thought not.

Common sense
03/01/2011 10:34 AM

Every profession has a code of conduct. Doctors can’t discuss their patients w/ others, even though I’m sure it’s very tempting sometimes. If they do, they lose their license. Accountants can’t fudge someone’s taxes, even though it’s probably fairly easy. If they get caught, they go to jail.

And if you cover a sporting event as a member of the press, you don’t cheer. If you do, there are consequences. But apparently they should make an exception to their ethics if it happens to be a really awesome race.

Blog from your couch, you can cheer all you want.

Jon Doble
03/01/2011 10:34 AM

There’s a difference between cheering for a driver and recognizing a moment. Seems to me that there was far more “recognizing the moment” than “cheering.”

I applauded Dale Earnhardt when he won the Daytona 500, I was not a fan.

I applauded Ray Bourque when he finally won a Stanley Cup, I was not a fan.

For writers to get fired for recognizing the moment is ridiculous. I don’t care if you cheer in person, just don’t cheer in your articles.

03/01/2011 10:40 AM

Wasn’t it Walter Cronkite that cried on TV upon announcing that JFK was dead? Did they fire him?

03/01/2011 10:48 AM

Tom, Think of it this way – it’s SI’s loss. What a dumb move on their part.

People watching and reading about sports don’t expect the media to be robots. If that’s what they want, they could just write a script by watching at home! That way there’s no chance someone could have an emotion.

Nascar is all about excitement “have at it boys” That includes the drivers, the fans, the media (as long as their columns are not bias against drivers)

There are some media guys out there, names withheld, that are so bias it’s blatant.

I will name one – Take Dave Moody talking about why Danica Patrick was interviewed instead of Nemechek – he surmises that it’s because she looks better in a bikini – and, proceeds to put a skimpy pic of her in his column.

That, in my opinion, is bad journalism, not cheering for a young Trevor Bayne winning the 500.

Carl D.
03/01/2011 10:52 AM

SI has journalistic integrity? For crying out loud, they deopend on more soft-core porn for publicity and profit than even GoDanica does. Every year they preview the upcoming Nascar season by simply recapping the previous season, and any remaining Nascar coverage they provide depends on whether it was a slow week in Major League Baseball. Tom, do what most folks fans do with SI… place it in the bathroom with the People magazines and the Charmin.

Jerry B
03/01/2011 10:55 AM

I am sorry to hear about SI being so shortsighted. Emotion is a large part of any sport, especially if one is passionate about it.
I understand and agree media should report impartially, but there are rare moments when emotion can be part of the story.
I am amazed that FOX shamlessly puts up with the antics of the Waltrip brothers, but on the other hand, getting to listen to Ned Jarrett’s emotion as he pulled for his son’s first win was a real treat you just do not get to partake in every day.
This year’s Daytona 500 was one of those moments, not only for Trevor Bayne, but the Wood Brothers and David Pearsons old paint scheme.

03/01/2011 10:57 AM

You can say you’re a fan all you want….but if you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, you don’t clap in the press box and you don’t write a column begging fans for sympathy. If you don’t like the media establishment, that’s fine….quit trying to join it.

03/01/2011 10:59 AM

“Wasn’t it Walter Cronkite that cried on TV upon announcing that JFK was dead? Did they fire him?”

Ah right, cuz the assassination of one of our most popular presidents is the same as a freaking SPORTING EVENT!

In the media center you are at work. There are certain things you cant do at work. You knew those rules (even if they were unwritten). Sounds like you screwed up. Sucks to be you.

Just for future reference, can I come on here and complain to all you guys about getting fired for surfing porn on my work computer? I didnt realize this was the forum for those kinds of things.

03/01/2011 11:04 AM

The issue here is whether or not people consider themselves journalists or commentators. There are several guys out there that are both. So they do their journalism part, then hit their blogs and do the commentary part. I have a hard time with them getting all high and mighty about this just because they’ve obviously found the loophole to the bias issue. Just get a blog and say it’s commentary.

Now the guys in the booth? They’re not journalists, they’re commentators and therefore not held to the same standard.

Not that I cared for his opinion, but obviously Dave Moody was operating as a commentator when he wrote his column because he inserted his opinion in to it.

You see it in Jenna’s reporting for the AP, it’s pretty dull and straight forward, just the facts. That’s the reality of unbiased reporting, it’s not real exciting. But at least it allows me to form my own opinions.

I’m not thrilled anyone got fired over this, I think it’s a pretty freaking petty argument some high and mighty people decided to start on Twitter that got out of control. Maybe those high and mighty people should have addressed the issue differently or let the bosses of those who did clap handle their employees appropriately. Instead they made a big whoha out of it and others got defensive and here we are.

BTW there were bigger storylines to come out of Daytona than this. It sucks people are losing jobs over something that should have been handled much differently by those who were offended by the cheering.

Carl D.
03/01/2011 11:08 AM

What I don’t feel sorry for is the way RG trashed you in his comments above. You’re the Editor-In-Chief and you have had the power to ban his screen names and his IP address for a long time.

“The only comments that will not be published are comments that serve only to personally attack another commenter or the article writer”. That’s at the bottom of every column. Sometimes I wonder why.

John Potts
03/01/2011 11:20 AM

And I was considering subscribing to the print edition of SI. So much for that. Now I’m faced with a quandry that I’ve had for years when it comes to commentary. I don’t know how to spell a Bronx cheer.

03/01/2011 11:35 AM


It is not an exact translation, but it pretty much works for me

03/01/2011 11:47 AM

A) We dont log in, so you cant block someone’s screen name. DUH!

B) Blocking an IP address only works for one computer.

C) I hear they have the internet on computers these days.

Susan Coley
03/01/2011 11:48 AM

I look forward to reading your articles on Frontstretch! I think you were dealt a terrible hand at being fired!! And as far as other people’s opinion’s…well, we know the rest of that quote!

03/01/2011 12:22 PM

I’m so torn. There should absolutely no cheering in the press box, ever. But this is such a far cry from cheering — clapping for 5 seconds in light of a once-in-a-lifetime finish is worlds away from openly cheering for Jr for 200 laps. And what’s the difference between expressing your appreciation and praise in the press box, and authoring an effusive recap? Location — that’s it.

No cheering in the press box for sure, but you didn’t cheer.

03/01/2011 12:22 PM

As a fellow SU alum, I feel bad for you. You are one of the few columnists willing to be critical of NASCAR. I wonder if that had something to do with this.

Bill B
03/01/2011 12:22 PM

Susan and Volcano,
I agree 100% (and stated so in my comment) that a NASCAR race and a life changing event aren’t comparable but, where is the line and who gets to draw it?

Sherri T
03/01/2011 12:24 PM

I tend to agree with the folks who can’t believe a magazine owned by CNN is giving people crap for bias? Come ON! They bleed opinion on all their news and wonder why people don’t watch!

I suspect that as others have noted, your firing was justified by this situation when the fact is they wanted someone who didn’t cost them as much. It seems short-sighted, but then I think you’ll find somewhere that will appreciate you and understand that you can appreciate an historic event and still write an unbiased article.

Good luck going forward and keep up the good work!

Don Mei
03/01/2011 12:36 PM

Randy Goldman…the Charlie Sheene of Frontstretch. Two blinding lights in the great pantheon of assholedom writ large upon the heavens!!!

03/01/2011 12:38 PM

I can’t believe people are actually claiming any NASCAR writer or TV personality is a journalist. If they were real journalists, they wouldn’t be able to keep their hard cards. Every media member associated with Nascar knows that losing their hard card is only one story or comment away……

03/01/2011 12:39 PM

No clapping in the press box. If you can’t be objective, you shouldn’t be a journalist. Period. I have a journalism degree, and that’s one of the few things I remember from my J-School education.

Darrell Waltrip’s fawning over his brother from the press box is sickening, and I wish Fox would do something about it. I also wish Fox wouldn’t allow Troy Aikman to call Cowboys games; he doesn’t even come close to being objective.

But Fox plays by their own rules, in both the news and sports divisions!! Objectivity isn’t a huge concern for them.

I have sympathy for you; but not much. This seems like a no-brainer, and kudos to SI for doing the right thing.

AS Clay, Esq
03/01/2011 01:24 PM

I find it terribly amusing that any journalist today would decry a lack of professionalism from any other journalist. The whole lot of them ceased being professional many, many years ago.

03/01/2011 01:40 PM

And Marty Smith still has a job, go figure…… Were you cheering the finish or the driver?

03/01/2011 01:43 PM

Jeff Burton came to visit me this morning. Well, not exactly. Not like a personal visit or something like that; more like a vision.

And he spoke to me. He said, “Man, remember what I said late last season: ‘This is a game. It’s supposed to be fun.’”

Well taken.

While I can subscribe in part to all the delicate and oh-so-professional, “We are journalists! We are objective! We never show our feelings!” stuff I just cannot get my head around it fully. Not with sports, or perhaps more clearly put, not with the results of sporting contests.

If you are not a fan of the sport you cover, then just what are you doing there? Why waste your time? If your only answer is money then why not go cover something else? There are a great many patently uninteresting things in this world crying out for coverage. At least I guess there are, so go cover them.

Sports is the Toy Department of Life. Sports is not revolutions. Sports is not the doings of the Federal Reserve. Sports is not murder, mayhem and unrest (Well, unless your beat is British Football). Sports is a place apart.

I really believe, though I am often known to be off my rocker, that I am intelligent enough to discern a bias in reporting. I may care about that bias when it comes to matters of substance, but for the life of me I cannot care when it comes to sports and especially to a sport I love and have loved for over half a century.

I, in fact, find it comforting to know that the people covering MY sport love it just as much as I do. It tells me they give a damn. That they care about something that in the context of the larger world is next to meaningless.

“This is a game. It’s supposed to be fun.”

Well, put Mr. Mayor. Well put indeed.

(AncientRacer now applauds dazzled by Mr. Burton’s brilliance)

03/01/2011 01:49 PM

Sorry you got fired, dude.

All of us sports writers root for certain people or outcomes, it’s part of being human.

But part of our job is not to let those feelings interfere with what we do. You’re being paid to write a story. You’re not in the stands, you’re not at a bar, you’re not on your couch.

It’s OK to be excited. But for god’s sake, keep it to yourself. Cheering in the press box is flat out unprofessional. It makes you look bad and it makes everyone in the profession look like a jock-sniffing moron. Real pros don’t cheer in the press box. No matter what.

03/01/2011 01:51 PM

I think what a lot of folks are missing is that the elation over the 21’s win had little to do with the driver and everything to do with the Wood family and what they’ve meant to this sport. It had more to do with respect and appreciation. It wasn’t about the kid sensation but the family returning to the top after being down for so long.

03/01/2011 01:57 PM

Tom the following is a copy of what I posted this morning on John Daly’s Daly Planet web site…..

Personal opinion? I think Tom getting fired over this is a crock. Yeah I know about the unwritten journalism rules……..blah……blah….blah.

I watched the post race news presser on There were many journalists there who clapped after Trevor finished his comments. And I saw at least 6-8 who went up to him afterwards to shake his hand. How come these other journalists aren’t getting fired or slammed on Twitter?

I think the so called lame stream Nascar media want to have it both ways. Be a “journalist” when they write their articles and then say what ever the hell they want on Twitter or their blogs. So which is it? I can count on one hand the REAL Nascar journalists. The rest are Koolade drinking Nascar butt kissers. Always toeing the company line. You guys (and gals) know who you are. Do some real journalism for once in your life. You guys all ask the same questions, week in, week out. Now a journalist shows a little emotion for a history making event in the sport and he gets slammed on Twitter and fired. It’s not right. This is a new era and there needs to be a new set of “unwritten” journalism rules.

I know DW and MW are not journalists, but paid color commentators. But to the avgerage fan there is no difference. You all comment on the sport. To us if Tom can’t clap in the press box, DW and MW shouldn’t be able to cheer for their favorites over the air either. Or push their sponsors and their web sites. In my eyes and in most fans eyes, it’s one and the same. You guys are all on the air, on Twitter, on the Internet pushing your own little agendas. Pure and simple. And it’s up to me, the fan to filter out all the BS. And lately there has been a lot of BS to filter out.

Sorry you got fired Tom. I enjoy your articles on One word of wisdom. I over the years have been fired from a couple of jobs. Both times the next job I got was 100 times better than the old job. It just took that kick in the pants for me to go out there and find it.

03/01/2011 02:22 PM

Man if that ain’t some shit!!!!!
Goldman,Volcano,you’re an ass, the internet is not on your computer, dumb ass
Rules of journalism piss off,better off without a-holes like that anyway

03/01/2011 02:45 PM


03/01/2011 03:51 PM

I think the rule needs to be changed. Why isn’t it that all media should clap for the winner of each race out of respect? It’s a dumb rule anyway, as long as the reporter’s story is fair why should it matter?

03/01/2011 03:58 PM

Did you guys also know that al gore invented the internet?

Weird, wild, stuff.

Tommy T.
03/01/2011 03:59 PM

In my three plus years contributing to this site I was always impressed by the high degree of ethics and fairness that Tom Bowles exemplified at all times. It is a shame that SI did not treat him by those standards.

03/01/2011 04:05 PM

Sorry to hear it Tom. To others who insist on replying to a certain denizen on these boards, a bit of sage wisdom: “Do not feed the trolls”. He doesn’t need anyone to tell him he’s being an ass. He knows he’s being an ass. That’s his only reason for being here. One would expect someone who disagrees with virtually everything written by every columnist here would move on to a site more to his liking. The fact that he doesn’t should tell you that he is well fed here.

Don Mei
03/01/2011 04:21 PM

Why did I know that a drunken, coked up egomaniac would be your idol?? Must have come to me in a dream!!! Oh, and most importantly; not very bright.

03/01/2011 04:24 PM

I just clicked a google link for you. Not that it’ll make up for your wage with SI, but enjoy the $0.10

connie moore
03/01/2011 04:32 PM

i disagree on firing i too wonder why they put up with mouthy waltrips
also too much yakking in booths all of them

03/01/2011 04:42 PM

really folks! who give’s a sh17 if the folks in the commentator booth cheer? have you ever been to a local basketball game where each team has a commentator.. same thing, let em roar and enjoy the show,, member ned jarret when dale won? c’mon folks,, lets just live and enjoy what we see and feel.. sorry day when a guy loses his job for emotions,,, just saying..

03/01/2011 05:25 PM

Hi Tom – not read your writing before but am a good friend of one of your other reporters who pointed me towards this. Emotion is absolutely part of any sport, and a prerequisite for reporting as it belies your passion for what you report on. Secondly, if they hadn’t fired you, nobody would have known you’d clapped – it’s like the tree in the forest that falls – if no one is there, does it make any noise. Absurd, ridiculous and……you’re better off without them.

Bob Dingley
03/01/2011 05:57 PM

Wow…this whole incident is bizarre! The whole FOX crew would have to be dismissed as well as most of the SPEED TV group if this really is THE RULE! I understand the need for a fair and unbiased media but not to be allowed to share the passion with the fans is absurd! Hope it all works out for you!

03/01/2011 06:03 PM

Did Ned Jarret get fired for cheering Dale Jarret to a Daytona 500 victory? Did Darrell Waltrip get fired for cheering Michael Waltrip to a Daytona 500 victory?Did Kyle Petty get fired for cheering Lee Petty and Richard Petty getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. Yet SI touts an issue full of swimwear and body paint. They seem to have lost the fact that sportswriters started out as sports fans. SI’s double standard shows that they are way too full of themselves.

Steve Benner
03/01/2011 06:04 PM

Tom, I am clapping my hands in support of you clapping yours. Good for you, you’re human! I also have saved frontstretch in my favorites and will follow your thoughts closely from now on.

John Ingram
03/01/2011 06:07 PM

You getting fired for clapping is the most ridiculous reason for them firing you that I have ever heard of. If they fired you for that,they are going to have to fire all current reporters and commentators for being biased.

03/01/2011 06:44 PM

What the hell every cheers for the winner

03/01/2011 06:52 PM

Susan, calm down for a second.

Whether what Tom did was professional or not (and personally I really don’t care), you’re missing the point, which is that a LOT of reporters were clapping in the booth, and Tom was the only one fired for it.

That tells me there’s something bigger going on here; maybe that his website full of blogging teenagers as you call them is one of few out there that call NASCAR out on dumb crap that they do. I sure as heck don’t see ESPN or SI doing that, and their writers are not only inferior as writers, they’re also arrogant and condescending.

Which is why this is my favorite motorsports site, no matter how old the writers are. Good for Tom.

03/01/2011 07:03 PM


03/01/2011 07:33 PM

We can smell Susan….

Amber Green
03/01/2011 07:36 PM

I thought your opinion was your stock in trade.

03/01/2011 07:49 PM

Fired for clapping. To me thats pretty stupid. I understand that your not suppose to be partial to any of the drivers. It sounds to me like they were looking for a way to let you go. I recall Ned Jarret cheering and clapping on live TV when his son Dale won the 500 a few years back. Also recall Darrel Waltrip cheering and clapping for Michael Waltrip when he won the 500 in 2001. They kept there jobs. Your propably better off without SI. I’m sure you’ll find someone else to write for. Keep clapping and cheering when ever a milestone is achieved.

Jimmy Dougan
03/01/2011 08:01 PM

Avoid the clap.

03/01/2011 08:05 PM

To hell with SI. I found your site from my AOL homepage and I am glad I did. Great site and I will be back. I hope you have read all the comments about old DW Dim Wit. He is the most bias announcer I have ever heard but he gets away with it. His brother is just as bad. I wish someone would get a petition up to fire both of them and myabe you could get one of their jobs. I could get a 100 signatures in a hour. Keep up the good work

Brian France Sucks
03/01/2011 08:11 PM

So Tom, since you’re the editor, why haven’t you banned clowns like Goldman from here? He contributes nothing, unless you count pathetic insults and blind allegiance to NA$CAR and Faux Sports.

03/01/2011 08:19 PM

You clapped. You shook the hand of the winner. You’re a fan boy, not a sportswriter. There’s no modern definition of right and wrong in journalism. And you know that.

03/01/2011 08:38 PM

Tom, you are the man. More people should stand up for their beliefs.

Rick S
03/01/2011 08:58 PM

I don’t understand this. NASCAR,NFL,MLB, and all of these sports are entertainment. Why would SI want a reporter thats NOT passionate about the subject that he is reporting on? How could Jarrett or Waltrip not be excited about there son or brother winning races? Anything else would have been fake. We remember it because of there excitement. (bias) Now I understand why SI needs to have a bathing suit issue.

03/01/2011 09:04 PM

THERE’S NO CLAPPING IN NASCAR Tom, you can always write for the INDY car series, Noone claps for them.

Gary M.
03/01/2011 09:07 PM

Good Grief!! Cheering after the race was won. How is that bias? During the race? Assuming people, drivers, advertisers, etc, took notice and somehow that could influence a driver or pit crew, to do better, ok then, that would be bias exhibited by a journalist.Wearing a race team hat or colors, yeah, that would be bias… But showing excitement, approval…sheer joy AFTER THE FACT, does not affect in any way the outcome of something already completed. It is a form of political correctness that does more harm than good. Someone at S.I. wanted your job and pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book…if you can’t outshine someone, dirty tricks will have to suffice. Keep your head high! The loser here is S.I. NASCAR, take notice! Need a PR guy? Here is one of the best!!!

03/01/2011 09:10 PM

Who the hell reads that rag anymore anyway. Your site is the bomb. You’ll be fine.

03/01/2011 09:12 PM

Everybody bringing up what’s done on the Fox telecasts and Speed TV are failing to realize those are not journalists. They are broadcasters. Some broadcasters are journalists, but not all.

03/01/2011 09:22 PM

I can’t be sure, but I’d be willing to bet that all the people taking the author’s side have never attended journalism school or covered a live sporting event. Either clap and write a blog OR don’t clap and write for a magazine. Completely your choice…hope you’re happy with your decision.

03/01/2011 09:25 PM

Did they fire Ned Jarret when Dale won the Daytona 500 or Darrell Waltrip when Mikey won? Darrell did get some comments from the fans saying he wasn’t concern enough for the Dale Sr crash, when he was overcome by the excitement of Mikey winning. However, Darrell is still annoucing.

Teddy Cooper
03/01/2011 09:38 PM

Now I am not a a huge fan of racing by any means, but I am a fan of people. When I read this story I was floored. Since when does having passion for what you love get you out of the game. If you dont have a passion or a desire to enjoy what you are doing or where you are, how can that ever come across on paper. I look back on all the sports stories that I love and that I read they all envoved passion. Not wether the last sentence said my team won or lost. Who isnt touched by the story of Brett Favre playing after his dads death or Micheal Jordan holding that trophy remembering his dad. Its the moments like that that we all live vicarously through sports to hopefully be that man who has what it takes to cross the finish line under adversity and come out on top, I applaude you and may your passion take you everywhere that your breech of the unwritten rules took you away from.

03/01/2011 09:40 PM

I read several columns here pretty regularly; but I didn’t realize Tom owned the place. Seems pretty fouled up a guy could get fired for clapping in the media center. Where’s the harm as long as a bias free article is published?

Here’s what I see in Randy Goldman. He’s probably born in the mid eighties, which is the spawn of the generation who have no respect for their elders and no appreciation of those that came before them. He’s either in college or a recent graduate, so his arrogance is obvious in that he thinks he’s a little smarter than the rest of us. That too is typical of his generation. He knows nothing better regarding NASCAR than what he’s been exposed to in the Brian France era, and thus cannot understand why several long-time race fans are disgruntled with the current state of the sport. Unfortunately, the Brian France era targets just such “new fans” as Randy and his generation of disrespectful, poorly informed, overly opinionated miscreants.

The simple solution is to just skip the comments by Randy, VolcanoNacho and the other obvious random aliases he uses and not read them. He only does it to get attention.

03/01/2011 09:43 PM

of all sports nascar is differnet anyone with any real knowledge of the sport recognizes why this was big not for the driver but the oldest team in nascar and if this is what companies think they should do then DW but oh yeah fox is the best tv package for nascar wonder why oh yeah passion for the sport and its history

Judy B
03/01/2011 10:18 PM

Are you kidding me?? Funny I thought most sports writers became sports writers because…THEY LOVE SPORTS!! I could understand if you were talking up one driver/player while trashing others. But to spontaneously celebrate something as awesome as a 20 year old kid winning NASCAR’s most historic race & be fired for it? If you talk to anyone who knows me, I’m considered pretty much an old school purist for the most part. But it’s stupid to not have some common sense. There’s a HUGE difference between applauding a job well done & biased reporting! I hope you get an even better job soon!

Jerry Ward
03/01/2011 10:25 PM

Well I guess old DW will be next. Damn him for being happy for Michael and crying after Mikey won the 500 back when and then the truck race the other night.You have got to be better off NOT working for a mindless, idiotic group of people like this. Funny, I live in Florida, and last I checked it was still part of the “Land of the FREE” Good by SI subscription.

03/01/2011 10:26 PM

Dear RandyGoldman, for someone who seems to have such a low opinion of Tom and Frontstretch, you sure devoted enough time to reading the site and commenting.

Randy, you’ve proven that maybe even you could have used a journalism class in college as your interpretation skills are sub par.

Where exactly does Tom complain about getting fired? He’s simply going over what happened and has enough of a spine to 1. acknowledge exactly what he did and 2. not apologize when he’s not sorry.

See, Randy, this is called passion and integrity. Maybe one day when you finally develop human emotions, you’ll understand life’s not about a bunch of rules or about trying to make people feel bad with your condescending, inaccurate comments. No, it’s about excitement, rooting for one another and letting oneself get carried away as he experiences history.

Here’s just a friendly suggestions: Consider rereading this article after removing the chip from your shoulder to try and hear what Tom is really saying.

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
03/01/2011 10:29 PM

Those who take issue with Tom’s response, or state that you’re supposed to be numb to the people and passion of the sport, as well as the perceived acceptable way one reporting or analyzing an event is supposed to conduct themselves, have clearly never been in the media center or spent anytime in the garage area during a race weekend.

That’s about as nicely and politically correct as I can put it.

03/01/2011 10:31 PM

Fired for clapping…Give me a break. As my protest, I will no longer purchase a Sports Illusted magazine again…Yes, that includes the swim suit edition.

03/01/2011 10:48 PM

Mr. Thomas Bowles, you should go ask Matt McLaughlin where he was before discovering Frontst retch.
If someone starts a campaign to get your career back with SI then we can refer to it as a Bowles Movement. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….

03/01/2011 10:48 PM

I think it is a bunch of shit you got fired.
Tell your story through talk shows and the press.
I support you 100%.

03/01/2011 10:50 PM

To be honest I have never read your SI colum but to get fired for clapping and being happy for someone WHAT A CROCK OF **IT….. I am not a trevor fan but cheered like hell to see him WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! The american dream came for that kid and many think the same way!!!!!!!! I think it suck that corporate media say one thing and act another behind the scenes…

03/01/2011 10:55 PM

Sorry to hear this news, Tom. Your column on was something I always looked forward to reading, along with the FS info.

I hear what everyone is saying about the professional ethics issue for journalists, but it seems to me that there are a lot of writers and other media out there proclaiming professional ethics, but doing far worse in writing than cheering for a surprise winner at the 500.

Maybe there is a difference between what DW and Mikey and others in the TV booth do week after week when they cheerlead for particular drivers and particular manufacturers or brands — that they have a financial interest in – but IMO that is a line that crosses further into unprofessionalism than a moment that a whole lot of people cheered.

I used to read the articles on I seldom do any more because IMO they spend more time toeing the party line and writing tripe than anything resembling unbiased media.

I wish you the best, Tom and hope that you find a better job than the one you had before.

Dennis Carr
03/01/2011 11:04 PM

I thought of Harry Carey when I read this! He would have been out of work all his adult life.

You did the right thing and certainly if you fall on hard times, you can move in by me, I got a spare room….. It’s a shame that SI has turned in to their Swimsuit addition and become turned into boobs…

03/01/2011 11:17 PM

“Here’s what I see in Randy Goldman. He’s probably born in the mid eighties, which is the spawn of the generation who have no respect for their elders and no appreciation of those that came before them.”

Dude… while I am not the same person as Randy (and I totally agree with most of his responses) I will respect people that earn it. Call me crazy but being old is not a reason to value someone’s opinion. I know lots of old f@&ks like Matt and Tom that have no fuc&ing idea what they are talking about. Being old doesnt mean your opinion counts. Talk to Charlie Sheen and Al Gore.

03/01/2011 11:58 PM

To the trolls:

To Tom, sorry to hear about it. Its my opinion you did nothing wrong

03/01/2011 11:59 PM

@Dennis Carr Harry Carey wasn’t a journalist.

03/02/2011 06:54 AM

Your just a man like any other man. Your entitled to your emotions. I was as excited and happy as anyone to see a brand new driver take the win. It will bring so many people back to the sport. NASCAR had to be truely overjoyed to see a new, young, fresh face in the winner’s circle. Money could not have bought NASCAR a better opportunity. Clap away Tom. Secretly most of America was more than overjoyed. SI’s loss and your chance to start over somewhere else. I never liked SI anyway. Best of luck to you and I’ll be following you in the future.

03/02/2011 08:05 AM

Irrespective of your personal misfortune, it seems that good sports writing is in general decline these days, pushed away by the use of short video clips. In the first day after the Phoenix race, it was very difficult to find anything in written format on the major sports web sites, except for video clips.
I increasingly feel like a dinosaur, preferring to read a report, rather than watch a time-wasting video.

The Mad Man
03/02/2011 08:10 AM

I won’t give the Kool Aid drinker credit by mentioning his name but he said “Anyone with media credentials has certain standards they’re supposed to maintain when reporting a race”. Darrell Waltrip and his brother both have media credentials. So by the Kool Aid drinkers own standards both of them are subject to the same standards as the so-called and real journalists covering a race.

Mr 3 Faces of Eve, you really do need some professional help.

03/02/2011 08:51 AM

No cheering in the press box is a timeless rule but there are many conflicts of interests. note the SI baseball writers taking money from, the industry they cover.

03/02/2011 10:02 AM

Randy Goldman, were you born an A**hole or do you take pills to be one?

03/02/2011 10:43 AM

As I read this nonsense that SI has created all I can see is DW and his emotions when his little brother won the 500 not to mention the truck race at Daytona 2 weeks ago. NASCAR is a family sport and having made it self so accessible to it’s fans means we are all human and full of emotions…passion. SI is wrong and thank you for the great reads!!!

Bobby O
03/02/2011 11:46 AM

Dave, you are not the only one left that hates video clips. Are those popular because the billions of dollars spent on castles (schools) produce only graduates that can not read?

03/02/2011 11:59 AM

You have nothing to be ashamed of.

03/02/2011 12:10 PM

Don’t know what you were cheering for anyway. Bayne was a blind squirrel who found a nut. It was his turn to lead the two-by-two-by-two conga line for a little while. That’s all. Just so happens his turn came at the right moment. He’s not a young gun, he’s not “the future of NASCAR”. I didn’t cheer, I scratched my head. Oh well, his turn I guess.
A “veteran” motor-journalist would have thought and done the same.

03/02/2011 12:13 PM

No, Susan, you can say that because you are free to say that. Nice that you “work” in a law office. You did not say you were a lawyer there. I don’t work in a law office. Lawyers work for me. So, I guess that puts you a notch or two down from there. :)

03/02/2011 12:37 PM

Susan, you are so out of touch with reality it’s not even funny.
Goldman Nacho, you keep on proving you are a real ass

03/02/2011 12:41 PM

1. Please do not assume I am not an attorney.
2. Please do not assume I have never been a journalist.

A long life leads one down many paths.

Lane Hunter
03/02/2011 01:11 PM

Keep your head up Tom. You’re one of the best racing writers in the business. I’ve always enjoyed reading your work. Your insightful commentary,knowledge of the sport and passion comes through in all of your writing. I’ll continue to follow your career wherever you may land.


OK. Now I feel better! :)

Bill B
03/02/2011 01:14 PM

I would like you take on the following scenario…

A reporter claps in the pressroom where only other journalists are present (and the public can not see) and then attempts with all sincerity to write and unbiased article.
Another journalist does not clap or show any emotion in the pressbox but then writes an article with an obvious bias.

Why aren’t both fired if showing any bias is forbidden in journalism?

Which is worse or more damaging, the bias the public sees or the bias the public does not see?

And, BTW, I get that this is part of the rules of conduct. But get real. Part of the rules of my job (that I have been doing for 25 years at the same company) is that I am supposed to be here on time in the morning. If once in 5 years I am late I am not going to get fired, especially if the circumstances were such that it was somewhat understandable or others were also late due to those circumstances. (It is a different story if I was regularly late). This seems to me like one journalist is being singled out unreasonably.

Bill B
03/02/2011 01:51 PM

Re “Both violated the rules of conduct.”
Well how come I never hear people being fired for writing bias articles. My point was that it seems like more emphasis is being placed on the not clapping in the pressroom than actually producing fair and balanced articles. That is backasswards IMO and it is why so many non-journalists are having a hard time accepting this. To us, clapping in the pressroom seems trivial whereas writing obviously biased articles seems like it should be important. Why are journalists so quick to enforce the trivial but so uninterested in enforcing the important? Kind of brings to mind the old biblical parable about the “speck” and the “log”.

03/02/2011 02:23 PM

I find it repulsive to see such banal banter in blog comment sections. Respond to the author’s piece don’t post inane rebuttals.

I’ve never cared for Mr. Bowles contributions, I have no particular reason to feel this way it’s just a gut reaction.

I was taken to this site by a Charlotte Observer link on Twitter, otherwise I would have never seen this screed.

This is only a single side of the story and I’m certain the author’s former employer will never state their side as it’s a Human Resources matter.

I’m hoping that none of the denizens of the Press Box ever laugh at one of the driver’s jokes, their reaction may be misinterpreted.

03/02/2011 03:16 PM

Hey ghetto, Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out of here. Ying yangs like you are not wanted here anyway.Hit the bricks,and take those wannabe lawyers with you.

03/02/2011 04:29 PM

WOW! What goes on behind closed doors? Man-o-man, Tom, sorry you lost your job. But as some of the other posts said, you’ll find a better one! And, as far as celebration in the booth? WTF does “good ol’ boy” DW do? Blatantly — as YOU all know, BLATANTLY, cry over/talk about his brother, ol’ Lil’ Mikey! Please, spare us. They obviously didn’t want you there; go forth, young man. And, also, by the way, spare me FOX. They suck! Where are the pit times? Anybody else notice they only show those such (important!!!!) things when it’s “one of their own”? (I.E. Junior or Mikey?) Can’t even read their graphics. Noticed that during football season, too. FOX is the armpit of many things. Good luck to you, Tom. You’re better off without them. Willie

Bruce Simmons (BruSimm)
03/02/2011 11:28 PM

Tom, that blows on multiple levels. And yet a few years back, ESPN showed Brad Daugherty pumping his fists cheering on a big Nationwide Talladega wreck sliding past the booth and nothing comes of it…. eh, weird world some days. More power to ya bud! Things happen for a reason. later,


03/03/2011 07:58 AM

I suspect some of you have never been in the press box or media center on race day.

I have.

I was a media member for one of the big NASCAR regional series and I can tell you that what Tom Bowles did is not unheard of, or ever rare. It was, at best, a minor transgression.

There is absolutely no way he should have been fired for this particular incident. It’s pretty obvious that SI wanted to get rid of him and they found an excuse. And if there’s a “rest of the story”, we’re not privvy to it.

03/03/2011 09:00 AM

“Here’s what I see in Randy Goldman. He’s probably born in the mid eighties, which is the spawn of the generation who have no respect for their elders and no appreciation of those that came before them.”

“Dude… while I am not the same person as Randy (and I totally agree with most of his responses) I will respect people that earn it. Call me crazy but being old is not a reason to value someone’s opinion. I know lots of old f@&ks like Matt and Tom that have no fuc&ing idea what they are talking about. Being old doesnt mean your opinion counts. Talk to Charlie Sheen and Al Gore.”

Wow, nice job proving someone else’s point in an attempt to refute their comments. Way to go, boy Nacho.

03/03/2011 11:29 AM

Tom, as the old saying goes, “One door closes and another one opens” – so maybe you will be on your way to bigger and better things. Meanwhile, I hope you will write more for Frontstretch-I love reading your columns.

03/03/2011 11:35 AM

I think I’m in love with Susan!

03/03/2011 12:05 PM

You know, something else bugs me about this.

I’m not sure what SI was going for when they alluded to alleged “other issues” that lead to the firing. They won’t say what they are, so the should have just said “no comment”.

They way it is now, potential employers will be wondering about it.

Bad move, SI.

03/03/2011 12:53 PM

sports journalist… never heard of one, there’s no such thing.
sounds like a fancy word for “box score”
sports there’s a term i can get behind.

Love your site tom. it’s one of the only places that helps balance the biased jargon that comes from the keyboards of most writers covering the nascar product.

03/03/2011 01:26 PM

While researching this topic, I came across a post by Dave Kindred of IUPUI’s National Sports Journalism Center, who quoted an unnamed source as saying, NASCAR press rooms are basically frat parties.”

Humm . . . sounds like the party got a little out of control at Daytona.

An hour or so after the 500’s finish,’s David Caraviello tweeted, “It’s not exactly a positive thing that so many “journalist” in media center exploded in applause as Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500.” Caraviello then had a 15 minute twitter exchange with a young college student about his thoughts on the matter. At the end of the back and forth conversation, the young man tweeted: “I respectfully disagree, but that’s what makes Twitter fun right?”


Instead of staying up until 2 am Monday morning after the race, tweeting back and forth with his Sports Illustrated colleague, Brant James, about this Journalism 101 learned rule, Tom should have remembered what happened to Denny Hamlin last year regarding his Twitter debate with’s Jeff Gluck.

It didn’t help Mr. Bowles, when the next day, a fellow blogger, Bryan Davis Keith, in his 5 Points to Ponder column, point 5, wrote a rather lame diatribe calling out three prominent NASCAR writers, Caraviello in particular, for their support of the no clap/cheer rule.

That, my friends, was the final straw for Mr. Bowles, who owns and is the editor-in-chief of this website.

What probably sealed Tom Bowles fate with was his own admitted inability to separate his passion from his profession. And his shortsighted need to place his personal standards above those of his professional peers.

Sorry Tom, you screwed up man.

03/03/2011 02:56 PM

Love your stuff Tom & that was Exactly what needed (500 Winner). IDon’t know anyone not excited about it. I Will not ever be going to SI for my (our) NASCAR info

03/04/2011 04:26 AM

Are you really trying to make us believe that you can’t control your hands and they started clapping on their own?
I doubt it. You inability to control your hands led to your being unprofessional. If you were fired because you were “cheering in the press box” you deserved it. Perhaps you can get a job as a blogger now…at least you’ll be excused for your lack of professionalism.

03/04/2011 03:59 PM

Ok, I hear members of the Lame Stream media crying ethics on this issue. What a load of crap. What ethics? These are the same media people who go on the Nascar sponsored Magical Mystery Media tour to the race shops before the start of every season. At the shops they get a bag of SWAG (goodies from the race team) and a meal. Then once the season starts they get free meals in the media center/press box. So tell me, is it ethical to accept free meals and SWAG from Nascar and the very teams you are supposed to be writing about? I see a double standard here.

I think the old school media have a hard on for the newer Internet/blog media. They have a chip on their shoulder against them and look down on them as lesser life forms. They saw a chance to slam one of these damn bloggers and then took their shots. Like children fighting in the sand box.

I also see a lot of the lame stream media who are so high and mighty on this issue be anything but objective in their Twitter posts. So it’s ok follow the no cheering in the pressbox rule and then cheer for a driver or team on your Twitter posts? Again, double standard.

Ed Slawinski
03/04/2011 09:29 PM

Anyone with a knowledge of racing history would have cheered that victory. The #21, the Wood Brothers, David Pearson. Come on people! Did you order the code red? You God Damned right I did!

Carlton Irish
03/06/2011 03:36 PM

What did Randy Goldman say? I don’t see it on here…

Bad Wolf
03/07/2011 03:37 AM

Damn, you should have heard Ken Squire in the booth during the 1998 Daytona 500. I had it on the commercial free backhaul feed on the old C-Band dish and he was giddy as a school girl and cackling up a storm when Dale Sr. won and CBS was in commercial break.


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