Jerry Springer and NASCAR? A special Twitter page for NASCAR and a unique race at a unique race track. Backseat Drivers Fan Council members had much to debate this week and they didn’t always agree. Here’s what they had to say about this week’s issues:
“THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW” SPONSORING A TEAM?
FoxSports.com reported that Phoenix Racing has had talks with officials from “The Jerry Springer Show” about the program possibly sponsoring the team. Fan Council members were asked what they thought about this possible union:
39.2 percent said it was horrible and would only reinforce stereotypes of the sport and should be nixed.
35.5 percent said it was great to see a potential new sponsor possibly help a team that needs it.
25.3 percent didn’t care about the issue.
What Fan Council members said:
• Jerry Springer's show represents the very worst of American culture. We don't need that in NASCAR. Our fans represent the best in our culture — love of family, love of God, love of our country and military. Those two don't mix, and we don't need new fans that bad.
• Bringing a new sponsor into NASCAR is always a good thing. If the sponsorship goes well, it could open the door to other sponsors coming into NASCAR. And thinking that "The Jerry Springer Show" will only reinforce stereotypes is already stereotyping “The Jerry Springer Show." Seems like a double standard.
• It is a tacky idea — tackier than the Ricky Bobby car. NASCAR wants to be seen as a world-class sport enjoyed by smart, sophisticated viewers. Consorting with “The Jerry Springer Show" does not sound like a world-class move.
• Not so much reinforce stereotypes, but just give it a trashy image, after all that's what that show is, trashy. I don't think it's a good idea for the sport.
• Sponsors are REALLY hard to come by right now. I don't think the sport can afford to turn money away. As far as reinforcing a stereotype, let's face it, there is SOME commonality between NASCAR and Jerry Springer. Do you want to alienate ANY fans right now because you think they are "redneck?"
• If “The Jerry Springer Show” can air on regular television, it can certainly sponsor a team in NASCAR.
• I know sponsorship is hard to come by but PLEASE!!!!! This will only serve to reinforce the bad behavior already set forth by Kurt Busch!
• As a sport that is characterized as being only for rednecks and white trash, we should look beyond the money. I'm often told at work that perception is reality. I can hear the pundits laughing at us NASCAR fans already. The stick-and-ball reporters would jump at the chance to ridicule racing rather than learn about it.
• Really I have mixed feelings. On one hand it's a sponsor that I'm sure Phoenix Racing could bring on and it would help their team. On the other hand, I'm certain people will look at the deal and Jerry Springer on the car and the WWE references will start. Probably Kurt Busch can create enough controversy without Jerry Springer's help.
• Any sponsor is a good sponsor! Not really, there is a line, but each car owner should draw their own line. Who am I to tell a car owner whose money he should and should not accept? I get to pass my judgement by choosing which drivers I support.
• Stupid idea. NASCAR already has the reputation of being nothing but rednecks. Add to that Kurt Busch's comments about how NASCAR needs to be more like WWE. Credible sports don't need that.
• Money is money.
NASCAR debuted the #NASCAR landing page on Twitter that provided a place for fans to check out various tweets with #NASCAR in it. Fan Council members were asked what they thought of the site.
57.7 percent didn’t look at it. 23.5 percent said it was OK. 11.1 percent were disappointed in it. 7.7 percent really liked it.
What Fan Council members said:
• OMG it was gr8t. ROTFL at some tweets.
• I already follow who I want on Twitter, so I probably will not use it all that much, but I still think it is a neat idea.
• So sick of hearing about Twitter all the time. I just want to see the race, I REALLY don’t want to see what Timmy in Texas thinks of Jeff Gordon's bad luck on my screen. Way too much Twitter involvement. Please make it go away. #goaway
• They didn't keep up with all the tweets like I had hoped. But still pretty neat.
• It would probably be better for someone who isn't already on Twitter, who wants to get a sampling of the types of things they might see there. Although the sheer volume of tweets was a bit overwhelming. I already follow a variety of media people, drivers and their wives, and team PR people, all told less than 30 people, and the number of tweets during a race in my own timeline can get hard to keep up with.
• It really just looked like my NASCAR list. I thought it was to help fans interact with others, but I didn't see that. It’s a cool concept, but I'm sure it will get better as the weeks go on. Totally not what I thought it would be I guess.
• It was great. Great way to see what was happening all over twitter and not just who I follow. The interaction was great. I am really excited to see where this can go.
• Had more important things to do. Like watch the race.
• The best part of the page is the picture stream. The tweets follow too many teams I'm not interested in, so I'll continue to stick to my personal timeline & lists, and I look at the raw #NASCAR stream if I'm looking for particular reaction to an event or news.
• The first round was a complete failure. There were tweets at the bottom of the page that went back to June 2nd. Meanwhile, in the unfiltered #NASCAR stream, tweets were as hot and heavy as ever. Updates were scarce on the official page and seemed to almost come to a complete stop sometime after halfway. I really wish this would succeed but it needs a heck of a lot more work.
GRADING SUNDAY’S CUP RACE AT POCONO
58.8 percent called it Good 28.9 percent called it Great 8.2 percent called it Fair 4.1 percent called it Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• Best Pocono race I have seen in many years!
• Take away the pass by Logano to take the lead it was a poor race, plain and simple.
• I was dreading this race as I normally do in the summer schedule. However, it was good. The repave, speeding penalties and cautions made this usually boring race watchable.
• Hubby's first race, and we stood for about 75 percent of the laps! Great competition, great resurfacing job, great turnout!
• Best Pocono race I have ever seen.
• Once we got the speeding penalties out of the way, I loved the race. When the race was over, I was ready for more laps!!
• Yes, this was an odd race. However, the whole speeding penalty thing really showed who was paying attention and it made it very interesting. The race was a good length and there were multiple cautions to help mix things up. Also nice seeing a driver who really needed a win actually get one this season.
• Who knew that Pocono could be that great. Usually even I am fighting the urge to nap during the middle of the race. It was the perfect length and the action was great.
• I rated it "Good." It was actually pretty "Great." I'm just sour that the 88 (car) didn't get it done.
• This was the first time ever I have gave a race a "GREAT" checkmark. It was one of the best Pocono races I’ve ever seen. I had friends that were there and they said it was just as awesome in person. Gotta give props to NASCAR & the track owners for making the race great.
A SECOND CHANCE FOR POCONO? Last week Fan Council members were asked if they cut four races from the current Cup schedule what four races those would be. Both Pocono races ranked among the ones fans would cut with the Pocono August race rated as the No. 1 race to cut. Yet, last weekend’s Pocono race earned praise from Fan Council members with 87.7 percent of the votes listing the race as either Great or Good — only the Martinsville race this season has received a higher combined percentage (89.9). Fan Council members were asked if they would reconsider how many races Pocono deserved in a season:
56.1 percent said one race only 39.5 percent said two races 4.4 percent said zero races
What Fan Council members said:
• I live 25 miles from Pocono and get sick of hearing everybody bitch about it. They deserve two races. They always have better than average attendance and the speedway has gone out of their way to jump through all the hoops NASCAR has asked them to. New paving, pit road, inner wall, fencing, better seats, parking and traffic control. A shorter race made it more competitive. That facility is now right there quality-wise with Charlotte, Richmond or anywhere else. God bless Doc Mattioli, but since his grandson Brandon took over, Pocono is light years ahead of where it was. That is an A-plus facility — I don't care how pissed Dale Jr was about having to be there for five days!
• Pocono is still on the bottom half of my list of favorite tracks.
• I have been to many Pocono races over the years. They were always too long and quite frankly the last three or four were boring. We stopped going two years ago. I picked Pocono as a race to be dropped. After (Sunday’s) race, I have changed my mind. If they can consistently put out a race like (Sunday’s), they deserve to have two.
• It had more action than Bristol, but I still think it deserves one race only.
• I'm still saying only one race. Yes, I enjoyed the race despite certain things, but I think only once a year is fine. Sometimes a race that has two races doesn't always deliver in the second race. Only a few tracks can do that. Talk to me after August.
• I was wrong last week. The new track and shorter miles have made this a much better race.
• No way this track deserves two dates, but I can deal with 1 date because it is a unique track on the schedule.
The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at email@example.com.
Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
Athletes in America have always been held to a higher standard. Role models for children and idolized by adults, their unflinching popularity comes partnered with unrelenting pressure. Fans become emotionally attached to the point that on-field accomplishments are only part of a “friendship” connection they feel. A full understanding of someone’s true personality is needed; an opportunity to relate as in many cases the investment in an athlete fans follow, representing their own dream they hope — or hoped — to achieve.
Of course, when perfection is expected, all you can do is fail. When the ugly truth comes out that athletes are real people and not the drummed up fantasies so many fans desire … that’s when reality provides a cruel reminder.
NASCAR gave us a taste of that this offseason, a classic case of a sport and its fans getting what they wish for — then working hard to give it up. It came through Twitter, which in the last few years has opened the door as a haven for fans and athletes to connect in a way never before seen. For the next generation, a 140-character “Happy Birthday” message has now replaced the autograph as a fan’s preferred trophy. A response to a child’s Twitter handle makes him or her an automatic fan for life. When done right, it leaves each side with a feel-good ending — no two-hour wait in line for the fan and no forced meeting when the athlete had a bad day.
NASCAR has taken full advantage of the craze, pushing its drivers to social media as a way to keep the lines of communication open. More than any other sport, it’s a “must have” to see who says what after a wreck or to follow one of your 43 favorites consistently when the TV broadcast remains focused on the battle up front. Just yesterday, I learned Juan Pablo Montoya had the flu and Kevin Harvick is antsy. Heck, at times we’ve even seen drivers post their feelings from the cockpit. An opportunity to see their true thoughts, away from the watchful (and reformist) eyes of PR representatives can be refreshing.
But for NASCAR vets, using the medium to speak their minds has also forced them to open their wallets. Criticism about anything from debris cautions to electronic fuel injection led to now-public “secret” fines — a practice NASCAR has since reversed. Suddenly, fans accustomed to hearing their driver’s opinion wind up with politically correct, canned responses where a wall gets built between the guilty party and his true personality. And for a sport looking to connect with a new audience, generic just won’t cut it.
But in the midst of NASCAR giving the smackdown, doling out at least $25,000 fines to Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski within the last two years, the fans themselves are not blameless. Take this series of controversial “maternity” tweets from Kasey Kahne as an example, posted over the offseason when he was walking through a grocery store:
“See a mom breastfeeding little kid. Took second look because obviously I was seeing things. I wasn’t!”
“One boob put away one boob hanging!! #nasty
“I don’t feel like shopping anymore or eating.”
As always, controversial comments breed anger from those who disagree. Within hours, Kahne found himself on the defensive, and later, tweeted an apology. Now under the Hendrick banner, he’ll be taught better than to “step into the shadow of negative publicity,” but the reaction it spawned sealed the deal. Expect a lot of “at the track,” “this race was great,” and “at my [insert sponsor here] special reception. It’s a lot of fun and I can’t thank them enough!”
Already, we’ve seen once-outspoken drivers like Hamlin tone down the rhetoric following their incidents, but the fan furor here ignites an additional debate. Certainly, for many, Kahne’s comments weren’t in good taste but they were also an opinion; nothing more, nothing less. Isn’t that what you want from your athletes? The chance to express who they really are? They have beliefs and opinions and crack jokes just like everyone else, and often times, they’re not going to be like yours.
But when fans hold athletes to the fire, reviling them for expressing an opinion, what type of message does that send? “We’re happy to hear from you… but only if we like what you have to say.” That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for a driver to speak his or her mind in the future. Because where do you draw the line? Will someone who hunts, then tweets about it, be forced to apologize by a barrage of PETA protesters? Sounds ridiculous, but in a world where a single 140-character statement can become a national furor, well, in the hands of the wrong, crazed fan, anything is possible.
But that’s the danger with fans getting too close to their idols: They can’t dream up who they are anymore. So the second they say something off base, it hurts 10 times more than a random person on the street saying it. An ugly pattern evolves, one seen with famous people several times over the last few years. One Twitter comment is made, people disagree, and a witch hunt ensues; they have to apologize. The fan has to be reminded their athlete can be whom they envision. They’ll settle for nothing less.
Ultimately, fans have to decide what they want. Politically correct, boring tweets are becoming the norm and not the exception these days in NASCAR Nation. But if race fans can’t handle another driver’s opinion, maybe that’s all they need to see.
NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne has apologized for comments he made on Twitter after seeing a mother breastfeeding in a supermarket.
Kahne’s initial tweet stated, "Just walking though supermarket. See a mom breast feeding little kid. Took second look because obviously I was seeing things. I wasn't!"
He then went on to tweet that, “I don’t feel like shopping anymore or eating,” using the hashtag “nasty.”
One upset mother, who goes by the Twitter name of @KnittingRad, responded, “Wow, you’re kind of a douchebag, where would you propose that baby eat, the restroom? Would you eat in the restroom?”
Kahne tweeted back, calling her a “dumb bitch.”
The tweets, which he deleted, were followed by an apology made on his Facebook page, where Kahne said, "I understand that my comments regarding breastfeeding posted on Twitter were offensive to some people. For that, I apologize. It was in no way my intention to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breastfeeding children. I want to make that clear.
"In all honestly, I was surprised by what I saw in a grocery store," Kahne said in his apology. "I shared that reaction with my fans on Twitter. It obviously wasn't the correct approach, and, after reading your feedback, I now have a better understanding of why my posts upset some of you.
"My comments were not directed at the mother's right to breastfeed. They were just a reaction to the location of that choice, and the fashion in which it was executed on that occasion. I respect the mother's right to feed her child whenever and wherever she pleases."
He also posted an apology via Twitter to the offended party, saying, “I wanted to apologize for saying what I said to you yesterday. It was out of line."
Kahne’s NASCAR team, Hendrick Motorsports, made a brief statement, saying, “We appreciate that he chose to follow up with his fans and others who were upset by the comments.”
Wayne puts his daughter's sexy twitpics over the boards
Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hallowed hockey hero Wayne Gretzky, used to have a Twitter page full of borderline raunchy photos of herself and her equally hot friends partying and in various stages of undress.
But the Great One put a stop to it, apparently.
Shortly before she shut her page down, she tweeted: "Having a nice sit-down dinner with my dad about social media. Haha."
We're guessing that conversation went something like this:
Wayne: "Stop posting naked pictures of yourself on the Internet or I will kill you."
Here are a few other tweets about sports from Ashton Kutcher
Earlier this week, Ashton Kutcher made a mistake over Twitter. Having not heard about the Penn State scandal, he tweeted "How do you fire Joe Pa? #insult #noclass as a Hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste". And then he was railed by his 8 million followers for not being aware of WHY Joe Pa was fired. How he hadn't heard about the scandal as of Wednesday, well, that's another issue. But because of his gaffe, which he's repeatedly apologized for, Ashton has quit Twitter altogether.