Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Gordon has come under fire this week after the below video from Fontana has made its way around the internet. In the video you will see Gordon and his daughter walking from the garage area on their way to driver introductions. While on their was a little boy approaches Gordon from behind seeking an autograph but he doesn’t receive one.
The one thing that does seem pretty clear in the video is that it’s not Gordon’s voice that is audible when he looks in the direction of the boy, it seems to be a fans voice. That being said, Gordon still doesn’t sign the autograph for the young boy.
Gordon and non-Gordon fans alike have been in somewhat of an uproar this week as a result of this video. Other websites that have run this story have painted Gordon’s actions as “shocking” and “unbelievable.” However, the fact of the matter is that this is something that tends to happen with almost every driver almost every single weekend.
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Fans who come to NASCAR events tend to have more access to drivers than any other fan does with any other athlete in any other sport. In NASCAR fans have the chance to roam around pit road and the garage area all weekend long which results in them coming across drivers regularly. While fans in NASCAR have more access to the athletes it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have more of a right to obtain autographs from them.
When it comes to approaching any athlete for an autograph there is a time and a place in which it’s appropriate. In this particular situation Gordon seemed to be on his way to driver introductions, his daughter was with him and he was clearly being ushered along by his PR person. Asking for an autograph at this particular time isn’t ideal and the odds of you not getting one are high. It also needs to be understood that for ever autograph Gordon or any other driver turn down, they probably sign dozens and dozens more.
The bottom line is that not every fan is going to get every autograph every weekend.
Aside from the fact that Gordon and the little boy crossed paths at what seemed to be a bad time for an autograph, the boy also might have been somewhere that he shouldn’t have been. The walkway from the garage area to driver introductions is roped off and fans usually line up on both sides to seek autographs, take photos etc. In the case of this young fan, he is clearing inside of the roped off area which makes you wonder if he should have been there in the first place. While this isn’t the most important factor it’s certainly worth mentioning. It’s also worth mentioning that if an adult had crossed the rope and was denied most people wouldn’t care.
At the end of the day it all comes back to the fact that this is the nature of the beast at NASCAR events. For the most part drivers are very giving when it comes to fan interaction but there are times when they cannot give to everyone. In this case it just so happened to be Gordon and a younger fan and it just so happened to make its way to YouTube. To paint Gordon or any other driver in a situation like this in a negative way is simply irresponsible.