Saturday, April 28, 2007

Shame on NASCAR!

Or should NASCAR really be ashamed?

The huge controversy of the week involved Tony Stewart's claim of NASCAR 'fixing' the races with faked debris cautions. NASCAR publicly insured that Tony would retract his statements, by withholding the 'privilege' of unloading at the race until Tony met with the officials.

Tony proceeded to a press conference, where there was no doubt he was retracting everything he said. At one point, he had his eyes firmly fixed on the back of the room, where it was reported many of the top officials of NASCAR were watching his every move.

The subject of whether or not NASCAR and Pro-wrestling are twins has been beaten to death in the media, the blogs, and the internet. I am not here to do that. My concern is of the perception of NASCAR.

Quite often, we are reminded that NASCAR is a privately owned entity. Even the latest two lawsuits involving NASCAR remind us that the France family has extended dealings throughout our racing world. We know that it is NASCAR's show, and they get to handle situations as they see fit.

However, the perception of the debris cautions being deliberately thrown has been bandied about for years. A quick browsing of the online print sites last night showed that there is a segment of the news world that outright wonders just how much 'fixing' of the races have happened. Other journalists say Tony will be punished further by problems in inspection, or by getting dinged for pit road speeding violation.

THIS is where NASCAR has a problem. Tony voicing his displeasure is only the tip of the iceburg. NASCAR, you see, is PERCEIVED of manipulating the races. Truth or not, the perception abounds that NASCAR has helped to decide the outcome in various ways.

NASCAR needs to do some self-policing. If the rumors are rampant about 'competition cautions', and NASCAR denies it, it does become NASCAR's job to insure that we, the fans, can regain trust. NASCAR should look at those rumors as a signal that their actions do not APPEAR to be on the up-and-up.

Cleaning up a reputation is difficult. But with the falling ratings of NASCAR, they should be doing everything they can to look inward to improve that reputation. If it is not too late. Because in the minds of the fans, Perception IS Reality.