We don't trash your sport, NASCAR bashers, so don't trash ours
They lurk under the cloak of ignorance. They strike with the precision of a 12-gauge shotgun sprayed from 100 yards. They laugh at us. They mock us. They are the NASCAR bashers, and they are out of control, writes Ed Hinton.
- Has somebody driven a car into your living room and revved the engine? Do you have neighbors who keep your walls throbbing 'til the wee hours with NASCAR engine noise on their sound systems?Does NASCAR place unstoppable pop-up ads on your favorite Web sites? Does Brian France pre-empt your favorite prime-time programming on all channels to deliver addresses on the state of NASCAR to the nation?To borrow a little from a Lewis Black comedy bit, do hooded commandos invade your home in the evenings and place Dale Earnhardt Jr. stand-up cutouts in your children's bedrooms, chanting "Jun-ior! Jun-ior!" as they go about their evil work?Fact is, the only invasions of your life ever attempted by NASCAR could be easily repulsed with one touch of the channel changer or click of the mouse.ESPN has five channels and a Web site, all running 24/7. That's 840 hours per week of television programming alone. So you're telling me that a few hours a week of NASCAR programming, and a few columns and stories, send you fleeing to the hills in terror?Do you have the same violent reactions to bowling? Bull riding? Bass fishing? In the Conversation after a recent NASCAR column I wrote, someone commented, "Start covering a real sport like hockey and I will start giving ESPN credibility again."Well, (a) why were you reading about auto racing in the first place, if it's not in your definition of a real sport?And (b) just as auto racing seems like cars going around in circles for no apparent reason to you, hockey seems like mass confusion to me. I've been trying since childhood to understand what "icing" is. The only way I know they've scored is when players throw their arms up. Attending a game live, I was told to watch for the red light on top of the net. Oh. That made it a lot more interesting.Yet I once took issue with an Atlanta columnist who was forever bashing hockey as "flatball." There are people who understand it and like it, and that's their privilege.Another comment after my column warned, "Don't ever compare a NASCAR driver to Vince Lombardi."Does that imply, "I know where you live," or what? (Besides, I didn't compare Jimmie Johnson to Lombardi. I compared the No. 48 team to Lombardi's Packers with regard to the effort it takes to three-peat as champions.)How many times do I have to say this? Webster -- not I, Webster -- defines "sport" as: "1. A source of diversion: pastime."I still don't know how the American definition of sport narrowed to "games played with sticks and balls," but it has, and it is incorrect.Whenever you say NASCAR -- or the World Series of Poker, for that matter -- isn't a sport, you are simply wrong, by the most definitive arbiter of the American language.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Jason M. MiczekSee what you're missing, NASCAR bashers? Jessica Simpson is a fan, and she's proud of it.
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