Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The three things I did not write about Nascar

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.

14 comments:

  1. Well I know one thing you did not learn...NASCAR is (for the 100th time) an acronym! Yeah I read the bs in your other comment about putting the blame on "the times", but really?? If you in fact cover NASCAR as you claim, you would know better. It's almost sinful to print NASCAR in the manner you continue to choose.

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  2. Brenda Jones RT(R)(M)May 1, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    I personally didn't see the need for any sports affiliation to make a comment on it...he's gay, so what??? If what you are insinuating is that if they didn't make a statement about it that is suppose to mean that a gay person wouldn't be welcome in the sport??? Should all sports affiliates also make a statement when any person in sports gets arrested, divorced, married???? Not sure what your deal is but my hunch is you wanted to write something to get somebody, anybody in this to notice you...well job done but can't say I'll be looking for good reading in your blog in the future...

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  3. I'll take you at your word that your intent was not to claim NASCAR, and it's fans were homophobic. However, the title of the blog certainly suggests that the lack of an "official" statement either by NASCAR, or any of the major stars "implied" that the sport is inclusive of all.

    Given the current trend of National media outlets, to include your employer, the New York Times, to use "conservative" to equate "racist" (or worse), why would you use that unique qualifier to describe fans of the sport?

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    1. Somebody needs to hand me the magic code book that tells me which words have double or triple meanings. I wrote "conservative" and some of you are saying that means "homophobic" and others are saying it means "racist." I thought it just meant "conservative."

      It is plain hogwash to write that the Times uses "conservative" to mean "racist." But I will say this: Had I known of these double-meanings, and that many readers actually believe them, I would have chosen a different word that didn't raise such ire.

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  4. "I did not write that Nascar or its fans are homophobic."



    You might not have used the word "homophobic" but you certainly said it here -- whether that was your intent or not:

    "For those in the closet, that's a powerful message to stay in there -- whether that was Nascar's intent or not."

    But I think we all know that was your intent.

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    1. Again, you're assuming something that I didn't write and then criticizing me based on your assumption.

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  5. To the anonymous commenter who wrote that I hadn't defined what I believe "conservative" means. Here's Dictionary.com:

    1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

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  6. "For those in the closet, that's a powerful message to stay in there" Those are your words right? I find this odd coming from someone who does not like others reading into the words they have written. You are so concerned about what you did not say but you don't give NASCAR the same consideration. They merely did not comment about a news story that has nothing what to do with them what so ever. If we do not have the right to interpret the words you write, what gives you the right to interpret NASCAR's non-comment? As you wrote in your previous post " You can't have it both ways"

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    1. I didn't assume what Nascar meant by its silence. I merely pointed out how it could be perceived.

      Others have made assumptions about what I meant. And to the extent that there was a misperception, they refuse to accept my explanations.

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    2. Please tell me you are joking. The title of your first article was "Nascar's silence on Jason Collins says it all" but you never came out and told your readers what "it all" was. Then you wrote "consider the message it sent throughout the garage and to the race teams and thousands of employees who are part of the sport -- some of whom, no doubt, are gay." Again you never stated what that message was. Now you wonder why "Others have made assumptions about what I meant."
      If you want others to understand what you mean, come out and say it. That's what good journalists do. In this article you write "the message to those inside the sport is that Nascar doesn't want to talk about this issue" and "that's a powerful message" Clearly you think that NASCAR sent a message by not commenting. Now you want us to believe "I merely pointed out how it could be perceived." There are dozens if not hundreds of ways it could be perceived. But you chose to focus on just one. I think that "says it all"

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  7. Viv, I found this interesting article. Have you read it?

    http://queers4gears.com/

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    1. Yes. I've had private communication with Mr. Myers.

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  8. I'm very disappointed no major team sports offered up a statement when Danica Patrick won the pole for the Daytona 500 this year. They missed a valuable opportunity to comment on NASCAR (it's an acronym and the Times has taught you bad writing habits) and their contribution to eliminating the glass ceiling facing women still in the 21st century.

    Oh wait, no I wasn't. It would have been irrelevant for them to do so, as the relevant thing was Danica winning the pole, or Jason Collins coming out.

    If you think NASCAR would have won over fans based on a comment in support of Jason Collins, you're hopelessly naive.

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  9. The problem is you're trying to have it both ways - to portray NASCAR and its fans as irresponsible because they didn't celebrate that Jason Collins admitted to having a lifestyle that has no place in biology or anywhere else, then deny you portrayed them as such - and you can't. The fact of NASCAR not responding to Collins' risible campaign for sociatal sympathy was not and is not a legitimate issue. What you should be doing is questioning why it's supposed to be a positive to have an unhealthy lifestyle instead of changing it.

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