NASCAR Breeds Selfish Fans And That’s Okay


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NASCAR isn’t like the majority of the other sports out there. If you’re a fan of football, baseball, basketball, soccer or hockey; you most likely have a favorite team that you root for. On that favorite team there are probably some players that you like more than others but overall you’re a fan of the team. In NASCAR it doesn’t really work that way because the majority of NASCAR fans lend all of their support to one specific driver.

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This is all great while that driver is racing but what happens when that driver reaches the last stage of his career and then eventually retires? Sure, Tom Brady can’t play forever but the New England Patriots will still be there once he retires much like the New York Yankees were still there after Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera called it a career.

The mere fact that the shelf life of a NASCAR driver comes with an unknown expiration date makes things tricky for their fans. Fans of Jeff Gordon know this feeling all to well. After somewhat of a resurgence in 2014 in which Gordon won three races and almost made it to the final round of the chase, he announced that 2015 would be his last season. The news of Gordon stepping away after 2015 came as a shock to his fans as many of them believed that he still had a few more good years left in him after his 2014 campaign.

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The pending departure of Gordon has put other fans on notice as their driver could be next. There is a very strong possibility that in the next five years the sport could lose Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth amongst others. The six drivers just listed will all be in their mid-40’s or beyond in five years and the likelihood of most of them retiring during that span is far greater than not.

As a driver pushes towards the end of their career the fans that have remained so loyal to that driver tend to become more and more selfish. This isn’t a knock on NASCAR fans and it certainly doesn’t count for everyone but it’s fair to say that it does include a large number.

Before the 2014 season many pundits out there were calling for Jeff Gordon to ride off into the sunset. The 2012 and 2013 seasons were not the quality of season that the driver of the No. 24 machine had been known for throughout his career. In fact, some of his seasons prior to 2012 were not the best either although he was still more than competitive in all of them. As the retirement talk amplified in 2012 and 2013 the pushback from Gordon’s fans increased as well and then it was all washed away with his success in 2014.

Fans of Tony Stewart are experiencing the same thing in 2015. Stewart is getting up there in age much like Gordon and in 2015 his success has not been anywhere close to where many expect it to be. As a result of this the “R” word has been thrown around numerous times in relation to Stewart through the first 15 races of the season and his fans couldn’t be anymore upset about it.

Nobody wants to see their driver retire. More importantly, nobody wants to see their driver experience any sort of a decline that would spark the talk of their driver needing or having to retire. In a perfect world everyone’s favorite driver would run their best for their entire career and then win a championship before calling it quits. Unfortunately, we live in a world where such happenings are rare. If NASCAR fans could have it their way, their favorite driver would race until he was 50+ years old and he would win races and contend for titles every season.

NASCAR fans are bred to be selfish.

NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world and often times that passion not only makes them selfish but it also makes them unable to accept life. Drivers cannot drive forever and over time skills and talent diminish, it’s just the way things work. There are times when it seems like some NASCAR fans would rather watch their driver race as a shell of themselves as opposed to stepping away when they were still near the top of their game. There is 100 percent nothing wrong with wanting your driver to continue to compete but at the same time fans should also want to see that driver competing at the level they know he was once capable of.

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Wishing for a driver to remain in the sport just because you don’t want to see him go or you don’t have anyone else to root for is selfish.

After Gordon announced his plans in February his fans went on for weeks and weeks about how it was the wrong choice and how he shouldn’t leave now when he is still contending for titles. Instead of wishing for Gordon not to leave or worrying about what he will be doing in 2016 and beyond; enjoy what time you have left. Enjoy watching the man that you have given all of your NASCAR passion to for one more season. Let all of the other stuff sort itself out because it will and if Gordon races again that’s just a bonus for his fans.

With all of the retirement talk beginning to swirl around Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart, their fans should simply let it be that, just talk. Fans of the drivers mentioned in this article need to accept that the time is coming and that’s okay. Until that time comes; keep rooting for your favorite driver and supporting them with all that you have in you. Until that time comes; enjoy every moment and every race that you can watch your driver in and don’t waste your time trying to plead with others about why your driver should or shouldn’t retire.

In the end this isn’t most other sports. Everyone’s favorite driver is going to eventually move on and as fans we will all selfishly not want for that to happen. NASCAR fans are bred to be selfish and that’s quite alright just as long as you’re remembering to enjoy the time that you have while your favorite driver is still partaking in the sport that they love.

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