Shit. Now I feel the need to defend myself, at least to the readers I have in common with Malfeasance.
It's true: I tuned into portions of the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Sue me.
It's also true that every four years I pour over TV schedules to find when curling will be televised during the Winter Olympics. This does not make me a curling fan.
What it does make me is a fan of the novelty of sporting spectacle. I've said many times that I'll watch any sort of contest at least once. Given the proper backstory and a certain amount of put-on pageantry, competitive paint-drying could be made to appear compelling (See "Masters, The" for all the evidence you need. That's golf, people.)
Let me give you four (good) reasons I watch a NASCAR race:
1. I enjoy it. I don't know very much about it, but I can appreciate some of the strategy that goes into a race. Much like my favorite thing about baseball is a well-executed double play, or maybe the 2-2 changeup that induced a ground ball into that double play, I enjoy hearing about how a team calculates and gambles on when they need to stop for gas or a how much longer they can go on a set of tires. Also, while crashes are kind of cool, what's even cooler is seeing what small mistake, or ballsy, ill-timed move, caused it. It's kind of like watching a fumble in that it changes the whole game in a few short seconds.
2. Despite what I said above, it's really pretty dumb. And yet there's something about watching a couple hundred thousand people gather to get drunk and watch something that's completely pointless, sort of like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which coincidentally also holds the allure of potential crashes.
3. As Courtney said, "the redneckitude of it all." This should not be played down. There is something about watching an event that captivates millions when those millions have almost nothing in common with you. It's like an anthropological study, observing a tribe of people who speak a different language, worship a false god, dress in bizarre costumes, and drink shitty beer. Why National Geographic has not done a cover story on NASCAR, I couldn't tell you. They could easily find more than enough saggy, shirtless, tribally-tattooed women to fill their pages.
4. I watch for all the reasons listed below. It's like a car wreck: You know it's horrible, you wish it hadn't happened, but you can't look away.
And these are the three indefensible reasons NASCAR sucks and should just disappear:
1. Waste. Let's take 43 cars with humongous engines and drive them at 190 miles per hour for 500 miles. In a circle. And then do it again next week and the week after, all year long. I've written here about my personal efforts to minimize my fuel consumption and carbon emissions, but I can only imagine that a lifetime's worth of my driving slower and eliminating unnecessary trips is completely negated by four or five laps of the Daytona 500. And the tires! Jeff Gordon's car goes through more rubber in one race than my truck has used in its entire 14-year life.
2. It's boring. Kind of like bowling. I see the strategy, I see the difficulty- heck, I even see the athleticism. But for 500 miles? Isn't it a bit repetitive? Sunday's 500 was called for rain 48 laps from the finish. They just called it and whoever was leading at the time was declared the winner, sort of like if they had just called it the "Daytona ?" and not told the drivers how long it was or where the finish line was. All of a sudden it's just over and the guy in front gets a million bucks or so. So couldn't we have gotten the same effect over just 200 miles? Or 100? Because it's that last lap that really counts anyway.
3. I'm a snob. But apparently less of one than Courtney and some of her readers. Speaking of Courtney, she should know that I'd much rather watch any NASCAR event or lawn mower race or watermelon seed spitting or paint drying contest than "Dancing with the Stars," which makes me want to rip out one of my toenails and then use it to scoop my eyeballs out of my head just so I will never have to suffer the pain in twenty years of watching a fat, elderly, emotionally shattered, but no less insufferable Toby Keith attempt the Paso Doble.
Yeah, I'm way behind on my Toby Keith quota around here.