The other day I came across a blog explaining how we can cure our gas pains:
The blogger was outraged over the “waste” of fuel by cars running in circles for entertainment.
According to his logic (?) if we stop 43 cars from racing for a few hours every weekend we’ll solve our fuel shortage. We’ll bring OPEC to its knees. Prices will plunge. Let the good times – and the Hummers – roll.
Guess the blogger doesn’t realize his idea is about as original as a manual typewriter. The park-NASCAR/save-gas proposal is older than bell-bottoms. Old, as in the Carter Administration.
It was during that bygone gas crunch that some prehistoric blogger (known as a Letter to the Editor writer) suggested that the way to gain oil independence was to unplug NASCAR.
NASCAR’s inimitable PR machine quickly chugged into action and produced some interesting fuel factoids. For example: NFL teams, flying to games on just one weekend, consume more fuel than NASCAR uses in an entire racing season. The NFL burns more gas during exhibition season than NASCAR burns in an entire year.
The way to really save fuel, by blogger-logic, is to eliminate the NFL.
Add major league baseball, the NHL and the NBA to that fuel-hardy list. Their teams spend their interminable seasons crisscrossing the country in their chartered jets. NASCAR uses drops of fuel by comparison.
Ditto thousands of college teams. They all fly, and fly frequently.
And what about the fans? Those 100,000 pigskin pilgrims who wend their way to Neyland Stadium several times each fall don’t ride in on orange bicycles. Try calculating that gas bill sometime. Then multiply it nationwide for the four-month long college football season.
Don’t forget high school football and basketball, with its gadzillion fans. Like the college faithful, they don’t walk to the stadium. Convoys of team buses burn oceans of fuel transporting Lions and Tigers, Wildcats and Bears.
Does NASCAR burn a lot of gas? Absolutely. Do other sports burn as much or more? Unquestionably.
Reading the blogger’s complaint about auto racing reminded me of a recent TV news story about soaring fuel prices. A lady was being interviewed as she gassed up a SUV the size of a Greyhound bus. As the gas gurgled in … and in … and in … she wailed about how much it cost.
Apparently it never dawned on her that her excess is a big part of the problem.
Likewise, the racing-is-wasting blogger doesn’t realize that other sports run on fossil fuels, just like NASCAR.
Don’t single out NASCAR for blame. Every sport – and sports fan – is equally culpable when it comes to indulging in our fuelish pleasures.
To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the guzzler, and he is us.
Larry Woody is a veteran sportswriter in Nashville and has covered auto racing for almost four decades.