Woody: Kindergarten Kyle Has Lots To Learn
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Wonder how Kyle Busch would like it if, after one of his victories, he strutted into the press box to gush over his win and all the members of the media folded their laptops, got up, and walked out?
Sorry, Kyle – we’ve had a bad day and we just aren’t in the mood to talk right now.
Busch likes to be interviewed when things are going well but ducks and runs when they go bad. Instead of the stage bow he takes after each win, he bows out after each loss.
Last Saturday night’s all-star race at Charlotte was a prefect case in point. Busch was taken out in a crash with Denny Hamlin and had some harsh words for his teammate on his team radio. Busch stormed into Hamlin’s hauler to continue the discussion.
It was the biggest story of the night. But Kyle refused to talk to the media.
Granted, he doesn’t have to. NASCAR doesn’t require it, nor does team owner Joe Gibbs who is known for running a loose sandbox.
But the reason young Busch became a multi-millionaire almost before he was old enough to shave was because of media coverage of the sport. Without that exposure, which sells tickets and brings in corporate gold, Kyle would still be racing for trophies and gas money back on the little bull-ring in Vegas.
Most drivers get it. They may not like it but they get it. Media exposure is what keeps their sport running and brings in those monster paychecks and expensive toys.
Mark Martin, like Kyle Busch, was taken out of last Saturday’s race in a pileup not of his making. It ended a strong run for the veteran driver, and you could sense the disappointment in his voice.
Mark, like Kyle, wasn’t required to do a media interview. But unlike Kyle, he did. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy it, but he stepped up and did it. I’m equally sure Mark’s fans appreciated getting to hear a few words from their favorite driver. I imagine Kyle’s fans would have liked to hear from him, too.
Nobody can dispute Busch’s incredible racing talent. He’s one of best stock car drivers I’ve ever seen, especially for his age and short years of experience.
But off the track he’s got a lot to learn and long way to go.
Last year Busch came to Nashville to do some fence-mending. He presented a check to some area schools to atone for an incident earlier in the spring when he smashed a priceless trophy guitar in Victory Lane at Nashville Superspeedway.
One of Busch’s PR handlers informed the media beforehand that he wouldn’t discuss the guitar-smashing incident. The PR handler was advised that he’d be asked about it anyway – that Kyle doesn’t get to dictate which questions are asked in a press conference.
The obvious question was asked, and after the tense press conference ended, Busch’s PR handler heatedly confronted a reporter, spewing profanities.
I’ve always said that you can tell more about the character of an athlete in defeat that in victory. It’s easy to be a good winner. It’s hard to be a good loser.
Nobody expects a driver who’s just been wiped out to wear a happy face. Losing is no fun. But there are lots of obligations in life that aren’t fun, and how someone stands up and meets them tells a lot about the person. Kyle Busch could take some lessons from Mark Martin on how to handle adversity with grace and class.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments