Archive for Thursday, May 3, 2007

Commentary: Fans must police themselves

May 3, 2007


It has been a tough week for hicks. The price of pork rinds went up, and the public's perception of Southerners has gone down.

It's all because of Sunday's little hoedown at Talladega. Jeff Gordon won the Aaron's 499, prompting the track to be carpet-bombed with beer cans. If each splattering can of suds set the sport back a minute, NASCAR is now in 1967.

Thanks a lot, yahoos.

The sport has spent years trying to change its image. People were surprised to learn that drivers not only had all their teeth, they could speak in complete sentences.

But there's always that underlying perception. Not only that most NASCAR fans sound like Gomer Pyle and eat like Junior Samples. But that they have the intellect and emotional maturity of a 7-year-old.

Now the Talladega Beer Bash has served up the stereotype on a silver hubcap. It's been replayed about 23,845 times, with each commentary ripping the fans. Not that anything needed to be said.

It doesn't matter that most spectators didn't participate. Everybody comes off looking like a gaptoothed loser.

As a semi-hick myself, this is troubling. I have a black-velvet painting of Elvis hanging in my garage and genuflect whenever I hear the first note of "Free Bird."

Heck, some of my kin are bigger than Junior Samples. I know there's a difference between being a proud good old boy and a yahoo loser. Whatever your opinion of them, nobody can say Southerners won't take a stand for what they believe.

Who can believe in throwing beer cans is an intelligent form of expression? Forget the danger to spectators; can you imagine Peyton Manning getting pelted with beer cans just because the Colts won?

Talladega Superspeedway permanently has banned 14 fans who were arrested for disorderly conduct. Unless they all were named Nolan Ryan, that means scores of people got away with it.

There's really only one way to stop the insanity. Fans have to do it.

If you care about NASCAR, you can't sit by as the sport is trashed. That may mean giving the guy next to you a dirty look as he rears back. Or telling him to grow up. Or ratting on him to security.

None of which should come with the price of a ticket. But critics again are saying NASCAR is a bunch of yahoos.

If fans don't take a stand over this, they just may be right.


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