What does that mean exactly? Well, my life often revolves around sports. I have been known rearrange activities or even skip them because “the game” is coming on. I watch SportsCenter daily. I read ESPN.com daily to stay abreast on the latest happenings. And I answer at least one question a day from someone regarding something sports related.
I was minding my own business, drinking a nice hot cup of hot chocolate last night when I hear my mother say, “Ut oh. They were fighting at the race, again.” I reply, “Again?! Who was it this time?” Immediately we both began to search social media for answers.
A few weeks ago, after watching the finish of the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte, cameras were fixated on Brad Keslowski and Matt Kenseth. According to Kenseth, Keslowski immediately drove him into a wall during a restart. The damage to the car caused Kenseth to drop out of the top five and settle for a 19th place finish. With two laps to go, Kenseth retaliated by swerving into Keslowski. Following the finish, as the cars rolled down Pit Road, a still bitter Keslowski hit Kenseth, again, with his car. When both players exited their vehicles, words were exchanged while members of their respective crews tried to separate the two. A few minutes later, cameras are once again on Keslowski as he is walking alone between two trailers. Suddenly, like a thief in the night, Kenseth storms down the alley and proceeds to put Keslowski in a headlock.
As a reward, Keslowski was fined $50,000. Kenseth received no fine.
I do not even feel like sorting out yesterday’s fight that involved Jeff Gordon and yep, Keslowski. Young man stays brawling.
NASCAR is a very popular sport. It is a sport that I happen to love but I have noticed something. For all the brawls that have taken place over the years, there is a never a major uproar about them. Sure, I hear people talking about Tony Stewart and the Busch brothers all the time. One would think with the amount of swinging and intentional crashing that has been taking place on the speedway, we would hear more about the “violent” NASCAR drivers. Oh wait, we are talking NASCAR which means it is ok for drivers to have melees on occasion because it is part of the sport.
One has to wonder though? What makes their fights any different from the ones I have seen in the NFL? Or the NBA? Baseball is known for its bench clearing brawls but these are seemingly welcomed just as much as the seventh inning stretch its.
So I am left to ponder. Is there a double standard when it comes to fighting in certain professional sports? Oh wait. I do not need to ponder. I know the answer.
The joy. The exuberance. The child-like giddyness. The smiles. The hugs. The laughter. All were present last night as NASCAR’s most beloved, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., won his second Daytona 500, 10 years after winning his first.
On a day when most of us were not even sure the race would finish on its scheduled day due to a rain delay that totaled six hours and 22 minutes, Junior emerged victorious amongst a host of drivers who showed their endurance, stamina and determination during the grueling day and night long event. The 11 time NASCAR Most Popular Driver had gone 55 races without taking a trip to Victory Lane. Sandwich that with the fact that in three of the last four Daytona 500’s Junior had placed second,
many skeptics begun to wonder if we had seen his best. Without uttering a word, Junior let his #88 car do all the talking and when it was all said and done, the skeptics were left pondering what new story angle they could come up with.
On a night when I had planned to go to bed early so I could go to the gym early, I could not pass up an an opportunity to watch the Daytona 500 under the lights. If you would have visited me last night, you would have found me sitting on my bed squealing and pleading, much to the dismay of my cats, with Junior to hold on to the lead. You would have found me paying that no more wrecks occured. One, because I do not want to see drivers get hurt. Two, because I was tired and ready to go to bed. You would have found me covering my eyes(with two laps to go), hoping that the mysterious black material that attached itself to the front of Junior’s car did not hinder him from keeping his lead. You would have found me dancing, fist pumping and cabbage patching, again much to the dismay of my cats, as Junior raced to the finish line to capture the checkered flag.
On a night when I had just hours earlier been ready for bed, I was now too thrilled for sleep. I have followed Junior closely over the years and while I have admittedly been a fan of his, last night pushed my fandom to another level. The joy. The exuberance. The child-like giddyness. The smiles. The hugs. The laughter. He let his owner, Rick Hendrick ride on the side of the door with him to the celebration. He hugged every one of his crew members before conducting an interview. How could you not be excited for Junior?? The son who has grown up in the spotlight. The son who tragically lost his father with the whole world watching. The son who was expected to take his father’s place as the face of NASCAR(which he has). The son who publicly battled his stepmother over the direction of Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. The son who knew all too well the pressures of being the most beloved. The son who despite the pressure has always remained classy, honest and determined.
On a day when the #3 car, the one his father, Dale Sr. made famous, returned to the track, it was Junior who proved he belonged in the place he grew up: the track. It was Junior who proved that he was still a force to be reckoned with. It was Junior who proved that perseverance pays off. It was Junior who proved that good guys still finish first. It was Junior who proved that despite the obstacles you face, only you can determine whether or not you make it to Victory Lane. It was Junior who proved he is still the best person to carry on his father’s legacy.
And on yesterday, I am sure his dad, The Intimidator, was smiling up above.
Imagine my surprise when I turned on SportsCenter the other day and heard the crazy news, NASCAR’s #3 car is coming back. Seriously? Even more crazy is the fact that Richard Childress’ grandson Austin Dillon would be driving the car. Seriously?? Seriously??? For those of you that are clueless, the late, great Dale Earnhardt drove for Childress’ RCR team.
I have nothing against Childress or Dillon. It has been 13 years since Earnhardt passed away coming out of turn four at the Daytona 500. It is a day that lives in infamy in the NASCAR world and in the world of us who love sports. No one was as big of a name in NASCAR as Earnhardt was and still is. His stare, abilities and the mustache drew a whole new sea of fans to the sport. Immediately, after his passing, NASCAR issued a memo stating no one would be able to drive a #3 car for a year. And no one has driven it since, until now.
I have no doubt Dillon is worthy of a chance to participate in the Sprint Cup Nationwide Series but in my opinion he is not the one that should bring #3 back to the track. No one should. Not even six time Nationwide Series winner Jimmie Johnson. And that has nothing to do with his abilities on the track and everything to do with the respect that Earnhardt earned before he passed.
Most of us naturally assumed that if anyone ever drove the car again, it would be driven by his son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I personally think NASCAR should pull a MLB move and retire the number across the board. The number is iconic, sacred and should only be connected to Earnhardt. The man gave his life to the sport and has forever been immoralized as NASCAR’s biggest star. #3 should stay in the garage. Childress owes The Intimidator that much.
In the famous words of Darrell Waltrip, “Boogity, boogity, boogity!! Let’s go racing!!!” NASCAR season is upon us. Whooop whoooop!!!
We all know the big story leading up to the start of the season was Danica Patrick winning the pole at the Daytona 500. And we all heard the talk from some about how big of a deal that was. And we all heard talk from some about how it was not a big deal given her record. And we all heard about how if she did not win the race, she needed to finish in the top 10 in order to be considered “victorious.” Well, BAM ladies and gentlemen, she was “victorious!” With one lap to go, Patrick was running third only to get passed after a wreck occurred behind her. Unfortunately, she did not win but she did finish in 8th place and became the first woman to finish in the top 10 at the Daytona 500. Earlier in the race, she became the first woman to lead a lap at the Daytona 500. And to top it off, she is one of only 13 drivers to have ever lead a lap at the Daytona 500 AND the Indianapolis 500. POW!!
Even though the rules say she did not win, Patrick was a winner in my book. She accomplished so many things on that track. Things that had never been done. Things that people said would never be done. Things that no one expected her to do. With her accomplishing so much, people will now expect a lot more from her. This season will be considered a failure for her if she does not finish top three in a race. Some will even consider it a failure if she does not win a race. You will not hear that from me. I think what she accomplished on the track yesterday spoke loud and clear. If you are not convinced, just ask the 35 men who finished BEHIND her.
I have been debating all morning about which topic I want to write about, Oscar Pistorious or Danica Patrick. I woke up this morning and saw that Oscar was trending on Twitter so I was leaning towards that until I watched ESPN First Take. One of the topics of debate was Danica. There has been a lot of chatter about Danica not deserving the “hype” surrounding her.
I agree that Danica has gotten a lot of publicity and “hype” that is typically reserved for those who have proven over a period of time that they are winners. I agree that a lot of the “hype” stems from the fact that she is a pretty woman and in our society women are typically judged on how they look, first, before they are even recognized for their abilities. However, that is not her fault and I do not think she should be ridiculed for it. Has she capitalized on it? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t? Happens all the time. Just ask the dude who sings “Gangnam Style.”
The media hypes up the “next” such and such on a daily basis. It happens all the time in football, ie Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Reggie Bush. It happens all the time in basketball, ie Kwame Brown, Adam Morrison, Michael Olowokandi. Do I need to continue? What has happened to Danica is no different than what has been happening for years. The difference is she wears makeup and everyone I listed does not.
No one knows what type of career Danica will ultimately have but I find it deplorable that members of the media, especially women, have taken it upon themselves to call her out for what she has not done opposed to what she has done. Yes, I know she has participated in almost 200 races and has only been declared the victor in one. By society’s standards she has failed. In my opinion, she has succeeded. She is participating in a male dominated sport, one where there is not a separate league for women. Her peers do not look like her. Just because she has not won a lot does not mean she does not have an impact. I think her not winning speaks louder than winning does. It shows us that even when the odds are against her she is willing to get in the ring and fight even if she knows she has little chance of winning. That is what life is all about, right? Getting knocked down and continuing to get back up to continue the fight.
Even if Danica never wins another race, she has already helped pave the way for female drivers that will follow in her footsteps. The truth of the matter is not everyone will make it to the mountaintop. Some of are here to make the path easier for others to follow. That could be Danica’s purpose. Judging by her actions, I think she is ok with that. And for that, she deserves a round of applause.
While everyone was consumed this weekend talking about Oscar Pistorious’s murder charge, All-Star Weekend and Michael Jordan turning 50, a series of firsts were taking place down in Florida.
Ladies and gentlemen, Danica Patrick intends to be taken seriously. I hope. On Saturday, Patrick posted the fastest time in the qualifying round for the Daytona 500. I can admit, like many, I was shocked. When Patrick first started racing it was a big deal, of course, because very few women have participated in auto racing. In fact, on May 29, 2005, Patrick became just the fourth woman to compete in the 94th Indianapolis 500. Before switching to the Sprint Cup series last year, all we had to go off of was her previous track record which had included only one win(the 2008 Indy Japan 300) and seven top ten finishes in the Nationwide Series.
On Sunday, she one upped herself and claimed the top spot in the pole. Say what now? For those of you who do not understand what the pole is. It means she was, once again, the fastest person on the track that day. Yes, a woman is going to lead the start of the 55th Daytona 500. As if I was not already excited enough for NASCAR season to begin. Do you all realize how huge of an accomplishment this is? The Daytona 500 is the granddaddy of all races. It is the one race EVERY driver wants to win at least once in their life. No, winning the pole does not guarantee you a first place finish but it does signify that you are to be taken serious.
In a TOTALLY male dominated sport, Patrick has done something no other woman has been able to do before and she has served notice to the other drivers. Her hot start does not mean she will dominate the track this year. In fact, plenty of drivers have taken the pole at the Daytona 500, only to not win the Daytona 500 and to ultimately finish outside the top 10 in the Sprint Cup. This feat is going to put a lot of pressure on her to live up to all the hype that has surrounded her the past few years. However, this is a major leap forward for women. A lot of us are more than just a pretty face. You might want to take notes….