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Memo: World Class Hypocrisy

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 3 2010

Take this, Olympic Games. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Take this, Olympic Games. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Let’s see what’s in the morning memo today:

I see where the Olympics took a huge bite out of the Nielsen ratings for last weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The big hockey game was held in Canada that day, I believe.

I say that I believe that because I am not totally sure. See, I don’t follow the Olympics any more.  Don’t watch, don’t read about them. Not one minute of the Winter “Games” lit up one single LCD on my big screen.

I could care less about them, to be quite frank.

What’s more, at the risk of sounding overly judgmental or even unpatriotic, I say this: If you are one of those former racing fans who have turned off the sport because of all the phoniness which has crept in, but you then raved up the Olympics, then you are guilty of selective hypocrisy.

I say that because the Olympic Games have become such a paragon of phoniness that a sixth ring should be added to their logo – one to symbolize hypocrisy.

I used to love the Olympics. Would start looking forward to the next ones as soon as the last ones ended. Winter Games, Summer Games, heck, I used to think they should be held every two years instead of every four.

A hopeless sap, I loved what they stood for – and that would be amateur athletes giving up nights and weekends in an effort to see how they and their country would stack up against like-minded others around the world.

I thought sportsmanship was cool and still think that.

Enchantment with the Olympics began to fade in Munich in 1972 and not just because of the horrific acts of psychotic political extremists: Murder has always disenchanted me and I use the term disenchanted euphemistically here.

It is the rest of the crap that crept in that has done what a handful of murders could not do – take a dump on the Olympics.

Crap, as in politics, drugs, commercialization, greed, cheating, cashing-in professionalism, hatred.

I think my final exit from loving the Olympics came in the 1980s. I was living in Colorado. The media was invited to the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, which had recently been opened.

It was indescribably lavish. I was less impressed than shocked by what was going on at the place.

So much for the illusion of citizen athletes getting up before dawn, wolfing down a raw-egg drink, putting on torn J.C. Penney’s sweat pants and t-shirts and heading down to the local high school cinder-surfaced track to work out before heading off to the day job.

I later talked to a colleague who had done the tour and he remarked how those who attend the ultra-high-tech training facility – computers, highly specialized and expensive medical personnel and machinery with all kinds of blinking lights had crept into sport by then – would head to the Games with distinct competitive advantages over athletes from countries which could not afford grow their athletes on what amounted to mechanized farms.

He said victory would go not to the best natural athletes but to the best financed.

That has stayed with me over the years as I believe the guy had a point.

How does that differ from racing, where, as everybody knows, money buys speed? How does a person who is admittedly self-righteously offended by the commercialization and greed of the Olympics and its athletes support the sport of auto racing?

It all boils down to a matter of honesty, I guess. Nobody in racing is attempting to portray their sport as anything other than what it is.

And, oh yes, I like watching cars go real fast.

Memo to self: Find out if there is a commercially funded, all expenses paid, live-in campus somewhere for sports writers.

Ripe for spoilers: It looks like the when and where of the return of vertical blade spoilers to the Sprint Cup Series has been determined – word is, Martinsville in late March.

Not determined is what the result will be when it comes to the goal of making the racing better.

Will the spoilers do what they appear to be doing for Nationwide cars, i.e., produce closer competition? Or will they signal a return to aero push boredom?

We shall see.

What they will not do, I believe, is sink Hendrick Motorsports. In fact, it could put more distance between Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and those who have been watching them from behind the last couple years.

A radical change such as removing wings and installing spoilers will surely benefit those teams who prove best at preparing and adapting. And those to words would describe Hendrick Motorsports rather accurately.

Memo to self: Time to dig up those old notes on coil binding.

And finally: Getting damn sick of good people getting seriously ill. Get well, Jeff Byrd…thanks a million Junior…ramp up Atlanta fans…um, same team, Juan Pablo…no need for an apology last Sunday Michael McDowell…major need for an apology Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor…keep plugging David Starr…still think Pedlina is better name that Anne, Carl.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 3 2010
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • John says:

    You hold that thought Jimbo! You and your fraternity are getting smaller by the week. Instead of venting venom at those of us who choose more productive activities on a Sunday afternoon you should do a 180 and ask Brian France and Mike Helton why they continue to raise slamming one’s thumb in a car door into an elevated art form. By the way, the last time the USA Hockey Team played for the Olympic Gold Medal I was on an Aircraft Carrier in the middle of the Med., I wasn’t about to miss this one. Nuff said!

  • DICK ISHAM says:

    I’m a race fan and have been for years but there are other things in life, like hockey. Being brought up in New England and now living in the Detroit burbs, hockey where it happens!

    It was far more exciting then the California race Snooooz and Vegas wasn’t much better. I like close racing, not what’s happening today, it’s getting like the F-1 parades.

    Yes the olymipcs have their problems but the bobsled run certainly provided excitment as did hockey. Like it or not that’s where the action was last Sunday. The Vegas race was really a sleeper as they all have been this year. The car of yesterday provided a much better show.