NASCAR racing is a pretty closed sport…you either love it or hate it, follow it or not. This weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway it was different. In early March, the NRA, following two months of being pummeled by the press and public for a tone-deaf response to the massacre at Sandy Hook decided to sponsor itself a race. So, this weekend we had the NRA 500.
But it was different in two ways. First, an argument broke out in the infield of the race and a man decided to kill himself with a handgun. Second, and more significant [except to the family and friends of the dead man] was that Fox Sports seemed to bend over backwards to NOT use the name of the race. In every instance of the pre-race show and the race they referred to it as the Texas 500 or the Texas Motor Speedway 500.
First, to the death in the infield. At this time there are not many details but the basics are that Kirk Franklin, 42, of Saginaw, Texas got in to an altercation at the speedway during the race. He ended the altercation by shooting himself to death. Alcohol may have been involved.
Normally, and by that I mean over the past 30 years or so a hallmark of NASCAR races is the way that announcers and drivers do everything they can to repeat the names of the sponsors as many times as possible. It is not “fill up with gas”, rather “fill up with Sunoco Racing Fuel”. It is not “I want to thank my team”, rather “I want to thank the crew for setting up the awesome Dupont, Pepsi MAX, Quaker State, AARP Drive to End Hunger, Rick Hendricks Motorsport Chevrolet SS today for the Subway 500.”
The announcers have been particularly guilty as they work in any and all references to race sponsors, from the Sharpie 500 to the Kobalt 400 to the Budweiser Shootout. But it didn’t happen that way this weekend. This weekend the title – NRA 500 was not mentioned a single time. That extended to the pre-race, showing of logos and photo-ops.
At least two of the drivers were told not to mention the sponsor and to not be shown by the logos.
To be fair, they also did not mention, or show up close video of the [takes a deep breath] Michael Waltrip Racing Number Fifteen Clint Bowyer Gander Mountain With Rights Comes Responsibility Secure Your Firearms Camry; and Michael Waltrip and his NASCAR champion brother Daryl were both part of the Fox Sports announcing team. This change in sponsor name dropping seems to have started with the broadcasters last week, when they didn’t readily promote the STP Gas Booster 500 by name, though they did promote the STP 500 next week in Kansas by name.
NASCAR itself has spent a month distancing itself from the NRA500 and the controversy that it created. Facing backlash in the sponsorship agreement NASCAR spokesman David Higdon spoke to ESPN where he said “in light of this weeks race, NASCAR will be examining its rules moving forward as to who can be allowed to sponsor races.”
The controversy took a national turn when Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asking that Fox network not broadcast Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race sponsored by the National Rifle Association. If the broadcast was any indication, it seems that Fox Sports did make a conscious decision to minimize NRA promotion.
In early December, 2012 Bob Costas jumped into the politics of gun violence with an extended comment during halftime of Sunday night football in the wake of the murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend and other shootings that had occurred. Conservatives jumped all over Costas and NBC for his introduction of the politics of gun violence into the world of sports…Four months later those same conservatives are jumping all over Fox Sports because they did not introduce politics into the world of sports.
That insular world of NASCAR opened up a bit this week, the outside world spilled into their lives as the bigger middle of America, that large group that is neither pro-gun nor anti-gun violence found their actions…well, tacky. The outside world questioned that they should have known better, that they should have been more sensitive to the zeitgeist of the nation rather than bring partisanship into the NASCAR world. But most of the outside world would be even more appalled to know that it was as late as 2004 when the Southern 500 finally caved to end its Rebel Flag waving showcase race.
In the end, the controversy is on what was not said, what was not shown rather than what was. Oh, and Kyle Busch in the Number 18 Interstate Battery, M&Ms, Joe Gibbs Racing Camry took a bow with the Sunoco Checkered Flag™ for the first, umm NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.
Leave a comment | tags: 2nd Amendment, 45 caliber, 9mm, AR-15, Assault Weapon Ban, AWB, background check, Barrett, Beretta, Beretta USA, Bob Costas, Colorado HB 1224, Colt, firearms, Fox Sports, Glock, GOA, gun, gun control, gun culture, gun owners, gun violence, guns, homicide, Kyle Busch, M&P, magazine capacity, mass murder, Michael Waltrip Racing, murder, murder rate, NASCAR, National Rifle Association, NRA, NRA 500, NRA500, Ruger, S&W, Second Amendment, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Smith and Wesson, spree killing, Texas 500, Texas Motor Speedway, Wayne LaPierre, weapons | posted in Politics of Guns
2012 had the distinction of being, it seemed a year where the worlds of politics and sports collided. While both keep score, they are normally isolated from each other, unless Congress decides to get into steroid use or corruption of the integrity of some favorite pastime or some sports star decides that his sports skills translate well in the body politic.
First, a look at the dead and wounded in the world of politics. We lost a mountain of political heavyweights this past year, from Watergate’s Charles Colson to political leaders George McGovern, Daniel Inouye, Warren Rudman, and Arlen Spector. Those who triggered political changes included Robert Bork – one of the first major Supreme Court nominee challenges, Rodney King who put a face on police violence and Philip Vannater who, at the OJ trail brought sloppy police procedures to the spotlight. The interactions of the political world were observed for us by titans Mike Wallace and Gore Vidal along with the often truth-free Andrew Breitbart. And of course, from America’s shadow government of the 2000s – President Bartlet’s secretary…Mrs. Landingham — Kathryn Joosten.
Wounded, by circumstances both external and self inflected…the Tea Party. From their cheers to the question “Let him die” during the Republican primary debates to the rejection of Tea Party candidates throughout the Republican race. Michelle Bachmann, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Allen West. And with Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks only winning 24% of their Tea Party backed candidates their $40Million investment failed. Doubling down on Armey was Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads PAC spent $390Million in the 2012 election…and the only thing to show for it was a live broadcast meltdown at his safe harbor, FoxNews on election night.
Even more telling, due to the realities of the 21st Century both tax Scrooge Grover Norquest and the leadership of the NRA are facing extreme political pushback from their core political supporters, unheard of even six months ago.
And of course the choice of the Republican Party…Mitt Romney whose tone-deft campaign, isolating and insulting nearly every constituency except affluent white voters came up with just 47%…ironically the same percentage number of Americans he insulted when he thought there were no cameras. That loss, made much more acute by fatally flawed echo chamber predictions that he would win, no matter what the rest of the political world was predicting.
It seemed this year that the national stage and its ever present political shadow overwhelmed much of the news. The Presidential election, and Barrack Obama’s second presidential victory may have been THE story of the year but violence in America, and more specifically in public places caused an endless staccato drumbeat of breaking news, each story fracturing the public psyche more than the last. Mass shootings in restaurants and cafes, at the workplace and home, in churches and temples, at malls and hospitals, theaters and finally the catalyst that brought the frustration of a nation to a boil…our schools. Oh, and over 500 have been killed by murder just in Chicago…and we only know the name Nathaniel T. Jackson because he was the ceremonial murder Number 500, killed two weeks after the shootings at Sandy Hook.
But the world is not just politics…sports had an outstanding run in 2012. Eli Manning and the New York Giants beat Bill Belichick’s hoodie and the NE Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI – where the Roman numerals make it important and we saw the bearded San Francisco Giants sweep the World Series. In tennis we watched the retirement of Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters, swimming saw Michael Phelps and his cache of medals on his last podium, Pat Summitt and Jim Calhoun retired from coaching, and seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher retired for the second time. But maybe what we remember most was Lance Armstrong having the titles taken away for his seven consecutive Tours de France and Bob Costas, just 12 days before Sandy Hook using his Sunday Night Football halftime slot addressing the murder/suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and the culture of guns.
Also this year we watched Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond ‘chute into the extremely successful London Olympics, no matter the negative professional assessment of Mitt Romney. We watched the United States win 104 medals, we watched McKayla Maroney not be impressed and we watched most all of the London Olympics in time delay to make the broadcast for convenient for NBC’s ratings and so we could listen to the ever rambling Bob Costas fill time as they skipped through the parts not involving Americans. Most of the American audience was with McKayla…we were not impressed with NBC.
In Kentucky sports and politics collided this year. Republican Lt. Governor candidate Richie Farmer, formally University of Kentucky Wildcat “Unforgettable” lost the election, his unemployment claim after his term as Agriculture Commissioner expired, his wife and his house. Only his mustache seems to have survived. And in other news of the Big Blue Nation…UK won its eighth NCAA National Championship and put six members of the championship team in the NBA Draft, including Numbers 1 and 2. Also, UK superfan and sometimes actress and wife of three time Indianapolis 500 and four time Indycar champion Dario Franchitti Ashley Judd is being considered to run for the US Senate in 2014 against 30 year Senate veteran Mitch McConnell.
At the end of the year there is the Budget Bowl, in sudden death overtime with 4th and long and it looks like Congress and the President are executing their versions of a goal-line defense, each running often seen plays, the Xs and Os familiar to everyone who has watched either politics or Wile E. Coyote. But I am not sure they realize the folks in the stands are not cheering…except for an occasional, but ever growing Bronx cheer.
2013 looks to be anything but boring. Tebow that it is better than 2012.
Leave a comment | tags: Ashley Judd, Barrack Obama, Bob Costas, Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, Mitt Romney, Sandy Hook, Tea Party | posted in Politics