There has been a lot of reaction to my column from Tuesday on Nascar's silence regarding Jason Collins, some of it supportive and some of it ugly. That's OK. My hope with my blog is to start a discussion. In that regard, I feel as if I succeeded.
As one respected national reporter wrote to me this morning, "it clearly struck a chord, and that's the job of any great columnist, right? If you're not stoking emotions, you're not doing your job." I was also heartened to receive a thumbs up on facebook from Robert Lipsyte, the author and longtime columnist and writer for The New York Times who was recently named the new ombudsman for ESPN.
I am happy to defend my words, but too many people are inserting their own meaning into those words and asking me to defend their interpretation of my column. I can't possibly do that.
So I want to point out three things I did not write:
1. I did not write that Nascar or its fans are homophobic. I never used that word and I've been around the sport long enough to know it's just not true. I wrote that Nascar has a Southern conservative base. That is a fact. If you read that to mean homophobic, that's your own self-identification, not my definition. Don't put that on me.
2. I did not write that I am unhappy with Nascar. Nowhere in that column do I say I'm unhappy. I was very happy with Nascar's assistance in the Tia Norfleet story I wrote for the Times recently. I was told by a public relations representative that people in Nascar were very happy with my story on Kyle Larson, a positive look at an up-and-coming driver in the sport. And if you read my column on Ryan Newman calling me a thief, you know that I've got a good working relationship with some people in Nascar.
3. I did not write that Nascar or its drivers were required to make a statement about Jason Collins. All I did was point out that Nascar did not issue a statement on its web site regarding Monday's news and drivers did not comment. That's a fact. I also wrote the message that silence sent to others.
The ultimate point of the column was that Nascar had a rare, huge opportunity on Monday to stand alongside the other major sports and show its inclusiveness. That would have sent quite a message to those who don't pay much attention to the sport. It would have been a perfect introduction if Nascar has chosen to take advantage of it.
And at the same time, the message to those inside the sport is that Nascar doesn't want to talk about this issue and doesn't want to be part of that national conversation. For those in the closet, that's a powerful message to stay in there -- whether that was Nascar's intent or not.
Thank you for your responses -- the good and the bad! This blog is new and each post is a learning experience.
I certainly learned a lot this week!
Edited to reflect that Nascar did not make a statement on its web site. A Nascar official did provide a comment to a reporter when asked on Monday.