If you hadn't already heard, yesterday NASCAR driver Kyle Busch was cited for driving 128MPH in a 45MPH zone in Troutman, NC while driving a concept Lexus LFA on loan to the driver. Perhaps the most interesting element to this story is the fact it was a non-story for many writers across the Carolinas.
As you probably know, I didn't grow up in the United States, let alone the South so I admittedly plead ignorance to the the love affair with NASCAR culture, although having a casual understanding of its roots. I understand that by nature the sport was bred out of a smuggling counter-culture, but does that mean we should be laissez faire when an athlete is reckless to the point where someone could easily be killed?
Yesterday via Twitter Darin Gantt raised an incredibly salient point. What is the difference between what Busch did yesterday and what Dwayne Jarrett did in 2010, which ultimately had him kicked off the Carolina Panthers? Per Gantt:
"Hey, it's really simple in my mind. Let's compare the public reaction here in Mayberry from Dwayne Jarrett to Kyle Busch. Both dangerous. One in middle of the night, one broad daylight."
More after the jump...
Is there any suitable excuse for the double standard we have in professional sports? If Steve Smith was clocked going 83 miles over the speed limit in Charlotte do you think it would be a big story? I sure do... in fact, I'll go so far as to say it would be the #1 story on Mike Florio's site, the #1 story on ESPN and we'd probably be running numerous story and dozens of updates.
Meanwhile, the Busch story is a sidebar item on ESPN, and doesn't even get a mention as a top headline.
What do you think Roger Goodell would do to a Carolina Panthers player, or Jerry Richardson for that matter? I bet it would be a whole lot more than this (from ESPN):
Officials at Joe Gibbs Racing said they were aware of Busch's citation and would be releasing a statement.
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Busch would be allowed to race in this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
To pull this back to a situation we have already seen, one that isn't hypothetical, has anyone thought up a good answer to Gantt's question yet? What is the difference between what Dwayne Jarrett did last year vs. what Kyle Busch did yesterday?
In thinking on this question please keep the following in mind:
- 13,847 deaths on US roads were attributed to alcohol in 2010
- It is estimated that between 13,000 and 14,000 deaths on US roads happen because of excessive speed each year.
NASCAR fans as a whole (even those who detest Busch) seem to be siding with the driver in an almost 'boys will be boys' camaraderie. In the end is this really fair? Is there a true double standard in the Charlotte sports' landscape when it comes to how NASCAR is viewed vs. the NFL or NBA?
This question goes beyond just yesterday's citation. Not even two weeks ago driven Kevin Harvick tried to punch the aforementioned Kyle Busch after Busch caused him to crash, eliminating him from the race. Again, this was handled without reprimand or punishment. I can't help but feel the court of public opinion would come down much harder on a NFL player walking into the opposing locker room trying to assault a player who injured him.