So yeah, the Daytona 500 is on the same time as some wacky event at the Winter Olympics that involves cross-country skis, man-made snow, bales of hay and high-powered rifles. They call it the biathlon and its participants biathletes. This came on after guys slapped on long skis, whipped down a hill as fast as possible before jumping off a ramp that launched them high into the air. Whoever landed that farthest away without impaling themselves on the skis, the ramp or a spectator, wins.
My question is: When did the Winter Olympics turn into a snow-day early dismissal from fifth grade? We did that kind of stuff all the time (without the guns, of course—we used ice balls with rocks packed inside) only we weren’t smart enough to give out medals. Our award was street cred to the kid who was daring enough to pull off the stunt without breaking a bone or tearing some ligaments.
It wasn’t out of the question that someone would get hurt, either. After all, our Winter Olympics always took place in the Hamilton Watch parking lot where all the snow was plowed into a massive 12-foot mountain. From there we could jump, sled, ski, build forts that were more like condos or ant colonies through the hulking mound, all while fending off kids from the adjacent neighborhood with snowballs packed with rocks.
Just wake me when Dick Buttons, Johnny Weir and the hockey starts. Nothing like that Olympic hockey—it’s so much better than other types of hockey. Especially the type that can stop in the middle of the season for two weeks and no one bats an eye.
Clearly the biggest day-time sporting event (providing a big hors d'œuvre for the NBA All-Star Game), was the car race in Florida. In fact, the Daytona 500 is more than just the Super Bowl of car racing, it’s also where Sarah Palin turned up to shake hands (they were clean) and not talk politics, which she did by talking politics. Yes, sometimes no style is actually style.
Now racing of any kind is riveting to me. It could be a couple of mice trying to negotiate a maze and I’ll tune in just to see how quickly those little guys can maneuver around the corners. Granted, car racing is a little difficult to follow and I can’t imagine what real, live spectating at a car race is like. Sure, it looks like it could be the sports spectator version of water boarding, but folks who have been there say it’s quite the assault on the senses.
First, there are the cars. Sure, they buzz past pretty quickly and are pretty difficult to see lapping around the track at nearly 200-mph, but the noise is pretty intense (so I’m told). That is if you can even hear it since most folks wear headphones in order to listen to the crews communicate with the driver.
That’s what you have at a NASCAR race—guys with headphones to drown out the noise of the speeding cars and binoculars glued to their eyes in order to see various women out on the infield flashing the cars.
It’s a helluva thing.
The most entertaining part about watching a NASCAR event on TV is the interviews with the drivers because even the most humble, laidback guy talks trash on someone. It actually has a WWE quality to it without the shouting, steroids or Mean Gene Okerlund. Instead, after the race there is a rapid-fire TV interview segment where the drivers talk about their race which is always compounded by what a jackass some other guys is. And as soon as the jackass in question is called out, the camera swings directly to that dude who then talks about his race and which guy he attempting to turn into a fiery call of steel and rubber. Then they go to that guy and the process continues until every driver has been insulted.
After Sunday’s race in which Jamie McMurray dodged a mess of wrecks and potholes to beat Dale Earnhardt Jr., the racers spent most of the post-game interviews trash talking themselves. The winner cried and the also-rans talked about how they sucked. It was kind of like on the Chris Farley Show when he realizes he’s badgering his guests with really inane questions.
Stupid! I took my foot off the gas. So stupid!
Then the winner started crying in the middle of an interview in which he gave thoughtful and engaged answers. But it wasn’t just the winner who did that, either. They all did it. It was like everyone in the sport is like Charles Barkley without the bar fights or hangouts with Urkle.
Imagine if they did that in baseball, basketball or football… you know, the sports where the majority of athletes try to be as politically correct and boring as possible. How fun would it be to hear Chase Utley unload on John Lannan after the Nats’ pitcher broke his hand with a pitch? Remember how Pete Rose trash-talked Gene Garber after the pitcher ended his hitting streak in 1978? That type of behavior is exactly what baseball needs.
Strangely, there weren’t too many cracks about Danica Patrick, the world’s most famous female race-car driver, who got caught up in a wreck in her NASCAR debut on Saturday. It’s strange because the wise cracks really just write themselves.
“Was she putting on her lipstick with the rear-view mirror before the crash?”
“She wasn’t texting her friends, was she?”
Hey, Danica really wants to be taken seriously about her driving skills... maybe that's why she keeps taking off her clothes for photo shoots.
There was none of that “woman driver” stuff at all from all those good ol’ boys. Hey, they’re enlightened these days. They cry when they win.