Is NASCAR a sport?

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Is NASCAR really a sport?  This is a question that has baffled me since I was a young child.  To this day, I am amazed at the sheer attraction of NASCAR, and probably speak for millions like me when I ask “why is NASCAR called a “sport?”
NASCAR is actually an acronym for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.  Men and women drive “stock” cars with 800 horsepower at speeds of approximately 180 mph around a circle 500 times! Archery is also a sport, as is hunting, or so I’m told.  I tried to understand with a pro and con approach.

Pros: It takes guts and concentration to stay awake while driving at extremely high rates of speed in a circle 500 times!  Sounds easy except that the driver is mashed into the car through a window, has no airbag, and no cup holder for the coffee.   Additionally there is an exhausting amount of clutch pushing, (I’m not talking about a cute purse ladies), to change gears on a curve with some guy right on your ass!  

Cons: It’s just driving! Of course, there is some strategery involved, like passing other cars. (Strategery is a made up word used by Will Ferrell when he does his imitation of President Bush!  I thought it appropriate here since I find the movie Talladaga Nights excruciatingly funny.)
After my short analysis, I delved deeper.   Alas, as soon as I saw the word “prohibition” I had a vision of a crazed man transporting moonshine somewhere in the deep south, which immediately reminded me of the Dukes of Hazzard.  It took years for me to realize the attraction was the car and not the girl.  All of my brothers and dad looked like deer caught in headlights when that show came on.   Back to the moonshine, which came from Appalachia, and was transported by “bootleggers”.  To do this they created vehicles with handling and speed to outrun the law in mountainous regions.  Thus, one particular strip in Knoxville, Tennessee became a popular racing venue for bootleggers.  After prohibition, Wilkes County, North Carolina grew into a racing mecca.  Well that explains NASCAR’s dominance in the deep south.  (God, I love Wikipedia!)  
But does being a bootlegger make an athlete or NASCAR a sport?  Dictionary.com has at least 10 definitions of the word “Sport”.  Here are the top two:
1.  An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.
2.  . . . especially in the out of doors
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, this could be anything, even chess!  To further confuse anyone who has been living in a cave to avoid auto racing (like me), NASCAR’s “about us” page states that NASCAR is the number 1 “Spectator Sport.”  Most of us think of athletes when we think of “sports”, not bench warmers.  But picture Bubba sitting in a fishing boat with a bowl haircut and bad sunglasses.  He is actually hunting for fish on national television.  Does that make fishing a sport? 
From all this, I can hardly believe NASCAR is a sport and drivers are athletes.  EXCEPT, and you are really not going to believe this . . . . drum roll please . . . . 
Jimmie Johnson, a popular race car driver, was among many candidates listed for the 2007 US Sports Academy athlete of the year!  What???  You heard me.  A race car driver listed among athletes such as quarterbacks, pitchers, runners, swimmers and golfers, vying for Athlete of the year.  No he didn’t win, but come on, really, Bret Favre won.  
This debate could go on endlessly.  In any event we will all be happy to know NASCAR’s CEO, Brian France, concedes that NASCAR is all about the entertainment.  So is it a sport among other sports or is it just “sport” to entertain? 
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About Cynthetics

Amateur blogger and intense observer of life through warped sunglasses. In an attempt to hone my writing skills, I am having fun bringing humor and entertainment through observations of everyday experiences. Nothing is sacred!

4 responses »

  1. Ok, I will admit…..I just don’t get the NASCAR thing! Yes….I like to drive fast….but I don’t like to watch people drive fast….so REALLY….NASCAR isn’t a spectator sport! Spectator sports are football, baseball, soccor, etc; they are exciting, nail bitting events. Driving fast is not! But I do share a fondness for fire, just like Beavis and Butthead….OOOhhhh, maybe that is the attraction. Uh, Hu FIRE FIRE.

  2. NASCAR is definitely a sport, a hard sport. All the best racers probablywork out with trainers everyday. They are in better shape than mostbaseball players. The tension in the car is extreme and you have to be inshape to make it 500 miles.They hardly ever use the clutch on most tracks… basically to stop and go.G

  3. What really makes NASCAR the largest spectator sport in the US is –no….not the bubby-fied beer bellies on the men…and women- it’s the sheer number of people who attend these events. NASCAR races over 40 events per year at more than 20 different venues (tracks). Many of these venues attract about 250,000 spectators. That’s a mid sized city! When you look at most other sport’s venues in the US, such as football and baseball, those stadiums hold around 40,000 to 75,000 +/- spectators.Lets break it down: NASCAR: 40 events * 250,000 spectators = 10,000,000 spectators. (and 60,000,000 Miller Lite’s if everyone only consumes one 6-pack)Football: 14 games * 75,000 crazy fans = 1,050,000 fans(and 3,150,000 beers and 2,100,000 hotdogs consumed)Baseball: 162 games * 40,000 respectable fans = 6,480,000 fans(and 19,440,000 beers, 12,960,000 hotdogs, and 324,000,000 peanuts consumed)If my math is correct, and it may not be, NASCAR wins the most spectators in a single season award!Note: Most of the information and data presented here is educated crap, and may or may not accurately reflect the refined tastes and dietary habits of all sports fans.

  4. Agree with G, definitely a sport and by definition so is chess!!! fishing etc. Its not my favorite, but if you look at the time in the car under the stress of going as fast as they do, inch’s apart for as long as they do, I can see how it would take extreme atheticism. Endurance that probably is only riviled by a marthoner or Lance Armstrong….thats for austin!!!

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