Don't think NASCAR is a sport? Think again


Just because catching a ball isn’t involved in racing doesn’t mean NASCAR drivers aren’t athletes. Here are a few reasons why NASCAR is a sport:

Pit crew members and NASCAR officials lining up to congratulate Dale Earnhardt Sr. on his 1998 Daytona 500 victory exemplifies sportsmanship.

The athleticism and mental acuity required is absurd. Could you drive for 500 miles at 200 mph, inches from other cars and walls, with two to three G-forces on you in every turn? And have the temperature of the inside of your car be about 120 degrees?

Just because there is only one driver in each car doesn’t mean there aren’t teams. Good races start with engineers in each shop and go all the way to the pit crews – who change four tires, fill up the car with fuel and make handling adjustments in 16 seconds or so. Precision and communication are key. Teams are what win races, not drivers.

Sports today are about business, and NASCAR is a huge one. It has 75 million fans. Each race can draw crowds of 200,000 to the track. A 2012 Forbes article said NASCAR gets about $3 billion year in sponsorship money, which is twice what the NFL earns.

All of the traditions. A sport steeped in running moonshine, NASCAR has a rich history that it still observes. It’s a modern sport, but it respects its history. “Gentlemen, start your engines,” burnouts, victory lane celebrations, Speedweeks, kissing the bricks in Indy. It goes on and on.

The excitement alone is enough of a reason to view NASCAR as a sport. Take last weekend’s race in California as an example. There was a last-lap crash between the first and second place drivers and then there was a brawl on pit road, followed by an angry Tony Stewart rant to the media. Drama is forever present in this sport.