Sadly a new chapter in NASCAR was opened this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and without the watchful eye of a fellow Texan, we may not have even heard about it. The sad reality is NASCAR and my home track Texas Motor Speedway lost a small group of fans who I’ve been told will now watch the Texas races on TV or will look for alternate vacation destinations as the sport continues to pave a new path in search of new fans.
This isn’t a new challenge for NASCAR as traditional fans have bolted from the sport due to the many changes NASCAR has implemented over the years. But now I expect NASCAR to lose additional fans due to the cultural change NASCAR is forcing on families and on current faith based fans.
If you listen to NASCAR radio or follow NASCAR’s social media community, it seems traditional and faith based fans are no longer wanted. And if you’re livelihood depends on NASCAR, you seem to be a defender of the current culture no matter if it is right or wrong. This is incredibly sad.
What is the current culture in NASCAR?
The answer is simple…it’s the Monster Energy culture. It’s young, fast, edgy and sexy – not a bad thing. It’s also unprofessional, risky, immature and dangerous. NASCAR and their sanctioned tracks must walk a fine line in balancing their business to business corporate model and this new hip disrespectful culture of Monster marketing.
Disrespectful culture? Yes it is – and I’m not referring to the Monster Energy girls. NASCAR insiders have spent too much time on placing traditional and faith based fans in a tiny box and branding them as haters of these girls. I’m sure there are fans who do not like the optics of the Monster Energy girls, but traditional and faith based fans have seen sexy girls and risky sponsors since the very beginning.
Disrespectful is when Monster Energy and NASCAR – along with their broadcast partners release a profanity laced video justifying the Monster Energy girls. Let’s be honest…this video wasn’t made for the current pro-Monster Energy fans because they are in line with everything that is happening in NASCAR. The video was done to either win over traditional and faith based fans or to stick a finger into the faces of the traditional and faith based fans telling them to get in line. Since most traditional and faith based fans tend to shy away from aggressive profanity using people, my guess is this was a tactic to force people in line.
Here is another example…disrespectful is when Monster Energy, NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway allegedly allowed non-family friendly clothing at the track. If true, allowing a person in Victory Lane with an obscene shirt, to participate in the winner’s photos is not only disrespectful but flat out embarrassing. And while it may not be a huge deal to NASCAR insiders and those who don’t have issues with profanity, it is an example of the change in culture at NASCAR. This wouldn’t have been tolerated in the past.
If the above photo is accurate and true (altered to remove the full obscene word), Monster Energy, NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway gives the impression they do not care about ALL of their guests. Since the person was front and center for all to see during the photos, either management didn’t care how this would affect children, families, traditional fans, faith based fans or even corporate or team sponsors like Lowe’s or someone was able to get past series and track management without their approval.
My hope is NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway did not give approval for this unfortunate incident and will apologize. Again, I’m sure there are some who believe this is not a big deal because profanity is such a common occurrence especially within NASCAR circles. But I’m not the only one who wants to protect people from it.
Did you know every major professional sport and most arenas and stadiums have a Code of Conduct, which restricts such clothing? Basically the Code of Conduct is a set of rules written by an organization, giving guidance for handling difficult ethical situations based on a company’s core values.
Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and the NHL have a Code of Conduct for fans and can be found on their web sites. They detail restrictions for employees and fans such as, “There will not be any obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing.”
AT&T Stadium, which is approximately 30 miles from the Texas Motor Speedway, has a strict Code of Conduct and it states;
AT&T Stadium Management is committed to creating a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience for our guests. Our staff will proactively support an environment free from the following behaviors:
The American Airlines Arena, also in Dallas promotes a Code of Conduct that says, “Guest are not allowed to have signs or clothing with obscene or indecent messages, images or text.”
I’ve not located a Code of Conduct for NASCAR or Texas Motor Speedway and our email to the speedway has gone unanswered. We do know the NASCAR industry including track owners and promoters (Texas Motor Speedway participated) released a statement in 2015 regarding a conduct code. The statement said, “We are asking our fans and partners to join us in a renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events. This will include the request to refrain from displaying the Confederate Flag at our facilities and NASCAR events.”
Would an even more welcoming atmosphere include not allowing obscene clothing? I would think so but maybe under this new Monster Energy culture the code has changed.
We have experienced similar actions of disrespect towards fans prior to Monster Energy. After Bristol Motor Speedway enacted their current driver introduction ceremony (which is a fun experience), a handful of drivers have taken advantage of the situation and selected rap songs to use during their introduction. Unfortunately, these songs had lyrics about crime, degrading women, profanity, rape and racism. A Mom brought this to my attention after her child went home from the track and listened to his favorite driver’s chosen song, which was full of hateful and degrading lyrics. Since that time, I’ve made an effort after each Bristol event to point it out. I call it the Rap Crap Report. Sadly, no one of major significance in the industry joined us (RTR team) in asking the drivers to be aware of their song choices and to stand with kids by keeping their ears and eyes clean of such bad lyrics. We’ve been ignored by the drivers. For a family friendly sport – some drivers don’t care for family friendly.
I’m not saying I’m against profanity in the sport or even rap music. Whatever you say or listen to is your own business. And for those fans complaining about listening to the radio communications of drivers and spotters and hear profanity – I say turn it off. You are making a choice to listen…you are not being forced. But when you buy a ticket for a race and a speedway doesn’t protect you from it…meaning it’s promoted and everyone in the speedway is subject to hearing it or seeing it then something is wrong. Fans will react either by ignoring it or not coming back. And based on the number of people in the stands these days, for whatever reason, many fans are gone.
I’m a big fan of Eddie Gossage and I know firsthand he does the right thing. I also admire Marcus Smith – based on his tweets, he’s a man of faith. In 2012, when asked what fans want at his SMI tracks he said, “Fans wanted more access to drivers and more family-friendly experiences.” Based on this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, some fans didn’t feel the family-friendly experience. I truly hope this new culture that allegedly allowed a man in Victory Lane with the “F” word across his chest – standing next to the winner, who just happened to be the 7 time NASCAR champion will not become common practice.
What would’ve happened if Michael McDowell, a fan favorite of faith based fans had won the race? Would this obscene shirt been in Victory Lane?
O be careful little eyes what you see. O be careful little ears what you hear. Should NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway apologize? Yes and hopefully adopt a Code of Conduct like the other sports and stadiums because you cannot lose when you take a stand for families.
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