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Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Commentary: NASCAR is most dishonest sport

August 20, 2008

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John Edwards always wanted to be president. Well, I have the perfect job for him.

President of NASCAR.

Edwards currently is America's most famous cheater. Why not put him in charge of America's most crooked sport?

I'd like to say I'm joking, but I've given up on NASCAR after what happened over the weekend. Joe Gibbs was caught cheating.

Gibbs himself wasn't caught, but inspectors discovered magnets under the gas pedals of two of his team's Nationwide Series cars. They were put there to mask how much horsepower the engines were generating.

I won't bore you with the technical ramifications, mainly because I don't understand them. But what it comes down to is Gibbs, the most respected, honest, God-fearing figure in NASCAR, looks like Edwards did when he was cornered by the National Enquirer after visiting his ex-mistress.

(To be fair, at least Gibbs didn't deny the entire affair, dismiss it as tabloid trash or say his friend got the magnets pregnant.)

If Gibbs' team can't tell right from wrong, there is no hope for the rest of NASCAR. And there's even less reason for non-racing fans to think NASCAR isn't just a bunch of latter-day moonshiners.

When you never know if the competition is honest, how can you take the sport seriously?

If a pro golfer is caught cheating, he might as well quit the tour and join a leper colony. Baseball has plenty of rule-breaking and gamesmanship, but entire careers (see: Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens) can be washed away by cheating allegations.

The NFL's Spygate almost triggered a congressional investigation. Olympians suffer international disgrace if their medals turn out to be tainted.

So yes, racing fans, there is plenty of cheating out there. (And yes, Edwards fans, there are plenty of other cheating politicians out there.) It's just that there's an element of shame with other sports.

With NASCAR, cheating is excused as part of the culture.

That was all right when Junior Johnson was being chased by the revenuers, but NASCAR went big time years ago.

The people in charge aren't dumb. They know every time there's a cheating headline, a lot of potential consumers roll their eyes and snicker.

NASCAR talked up a get-tough policy in 2006 when Jimmie Johnson was caught with an illegal device on his rear window during Daytona 500 qualifying. That made such an impression that four crew chiefs were suspended for cheating before the 2007 Daytona 500.

Through decades in the NFL and NASCAR, Gibbs has earned the reputation as one of the most honorable figures in sports.

I don't believe he had a clue what his underlings were doing. I just hoped Gibbs might have rubbed off on them.

They have been around Gibbs, but it seems they've been around NASCAR longer. That means they never stopped to think that it's not right to get an unfair advantage over the rest of the field.

It was business as usual, which makes Edwards a natural choice to be in charge. It seems there really are two Americas.

One where people don't cheat because it's shameful.

And one where the only shame is getting caught.

Comments

enima18 6 years, 4 months ago

I think this guy needs to take a look around the Olympics. I can't count the number of athletes caught cheating on one hand. And that only lasts a few weeks. This seems like a shot at NASCAR rather than a gripe about cheating.

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