Friday, February 17, 2006

NASCAR is not a sport

RangelMD states:
Then Gumbel goes after ice-skating and I began to realize that he sounds just like any American jock who can't comprehend, let alone appreciate, any sport that doesn't begin with "foot" or "basket". Apparently Bryant thinks that the triple axel is no big deal and that sport isn't really sport without the brute force of a dunk or tackle. I'd love to hear what Bryant thinks of NASCAR; "Those guys get to sit down through the entire event!"
NASCAR is not a real sport. I am sure it helps to be in good physical shape to win a NASCAR race, but it also helps to be in good shape to be an orthopedic surgeon, and I don't see anyone calling them athletes. Poker is just as much a sport as NASCAR; they even show poker on ESPN now. I hope to be in the World Series of Poker one day.
I am not originally from the South, which explains why I am not into NASCAR.


Chris Rangel said...

Be careful. Southerners love their NASCAR even more than they love General Lee (the historic figure, not the car).

"Sport" has many meanings. In addition to a physical activity it can imply physical exertion or simply be an active pastime or recreation. The commonality for our purposes is that a sport involves a competitive activity governed by rules. As such, NASCAR is a sport but then again so is gambling and chess. One need not be an athlete to compete effectively in sports.

Anonymous said...

My theory on what is a sport and what is not:

Sports revolves around competition in one or more of several aspects namely speed, strength, endurance and, most subjectively, skill.

Some sports are pure embodiments of a single aspect of competition. Like the 100meter dash is pure speed, powerlifting is nearly pure strength, the marathon pure endurance.

It is when the "skill" aspect becomes predominant that the term "sport" becomes debatable. It seems to me that whether a skill task qualifies as a sport is based upon how complex it is. For instance, darts is not really a sport becuase the motor skill required is not complex and is always the same - your always throwing a dart the same distance using the same motion. Move up the scale a notch to bowling - you're throwing that ball 60ft. but the shots change, lane conditions change, etc - increasing the complexity of the motor task. Go up the scale another notch to golf - a very complex motor task with many variations for driving, chips, sand play, putting, different weather, courses, etc. Thus it becomes more sport like.

Applying this to Nascar - well it is a complex motor task less complex I think than golf, more complex than bowling or darts, but a whole lot more dangerous. Personally I don't think it rises to the level of sport.

mchebert said...

I am not a fan of NASCAR, but I do think it is a sport. Of course, it depends on how you define sport, but if it is not a sport, what is it? A pastime? A hobby? A game? And if it is a game, how can a game not be a sport? After all, every sport you can name is a game also.

The real question you are asking is not if NASCAR is a sport, but if the drivers are athletes. Here again, I say yes, and I offer an indirect proof.

Sports that require physical skill are very age-dependent. That is, immature bodies can't compete, and older bodies can't compete either. A 47 year-old cannot quarterback a team to the Super Bowl. A 47 year-old can't lead the NBA in scoring. Can a 47 year-old win the NASCAR championship? No.

Drivers don't become competitive in NASCAR until they are physically mature. You won't see a 12 year-old winning the Daytona 500. Drivers seem to peak in their late 20s and may persist into their late 30s, but then they rapidly fade.

Sure, A.J. Foyt raced in the Indy 500 in his 60s, but his last win was in his early 40s.

If NASCAR requires no physical talent, why is it that the old guys, who have the most experience and knowhow, can't do it?

Because NASCAR is physcially demanding, that's why.

Michael Rack, MD said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I guess there is no universal definition of what constitutes a sport, but since Dr. Rangel is willing to call gambling a sport, I am willing to admit that Nascar is a sport.

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Anonymous said...

Let's list all the points of nascar that makes it a "sport" shall we?
let's see...
it takes skill
it takes practice
it requires intelligence...
you need good health (as to not get a heart attack)
now let's see what's it's NOT
you do NOT move
you do NOT need to be althletic

great points for a sport ey? well guess what, all of the above also applies to poker...
2012 olympic games: now! we have the golden medal for poker!
seriously, that's not funny.

besides anyone can drive really fast, we just don't make it professional (yes babies and 160 year olds can do it too, but not that well....)

Anonymous said...

If the France family ran the NFL:

One half of the stadiums would be owned by the Frances.
The Charlotte Panthers would play the Charlotte Cowboys, the Charlotte Steelers, the Charlotte Redskins and the Charlotte Bears or better yet the Charlotte Home Depots, the Charlotte Viagras and the Charlotte Coors.

All jerseys, helmets and footballs would be covered with logos from Budwieser, Coors and Viagra.
Teams would no longer play football 'games' they would play "The Pepsi 100 Yards".
Owners could own up to three teams each.

Terry Bradshaw, Bart Star and 75% of all old quarterbacks now living would still be starting.
There would be no NFL draft or tryouts. They would be replaced by only allowing those to play who's fathers, brothers or cousins played in the NFL regardless of their talent level. Another small number would be allowed to play if they could muster enough sponsorship money. Pay to play.

There would be one black player (but only in the minor leagues).

The teams would have to play 40 games instead of 16.
If a team got behind in a game, another team could join that team on the field with 22 players against 11.
You could only run or pass to the left side.

Every ten years the hall of fame would be moved from Canton to whichever city offered the highest bid.
The NFL commissionership would be the personal property of the family and would be handed down to the eldest adult male regardless of competency.

The Super Bowl would be guaranteed to feature the same teams every year and it would be the first game of the season. Oh yes, and forget about naming it's trophy after a revered coach... theres no money in that.


Lets face it .... NASCAR is not a legitimate sport. It is an entertainment business that exploits a sports theme. Much like the World Wrestling Federation.... but on wheels.

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Diana said...

I do think NASCAR is a sport, it requires training, it is competitive, has teams, sponsors, its just my opinion, but thanks for sharing urs, and starting a debate.

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Anonymous said...

I like it...they go round and round. Yay! they're still going round and round! Ooooh...they're pants are wet.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is definitely not a sport. The same people who consider it to be a sport would likely consider the "Dukes of Hazzard" to be a documentary. While it is a widely enjoyed activity (God knows why), there is no significant level of physical prowess involved to be a NASCAR driver. Yes, it takes skill, but so does chess or filing a 1040 long form and I have not seen either on ESPN.

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Trish Stratus said...

In my opinion NASCAR is a sport. It require mental and physical preparedness.

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karina said...

We all know the real racing diehardsking tours live down south and fix their schedules around watching the race with a beer in hand. They would never think about working on a Sunday in the summer. If they're lucky, they can go to church and watch the race in one day. They get together over their friend's house to barbecue and drink some beers. During the race, they watch every second of the broadcast on TNT on their couch wearing their favorite driver's ball cap. Every Sunday throughout the summer, Sunday is The Day for NASCAR enthusiasts. But up north, it’s a little bit different.

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