Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism
-- Golden Tate, on his Twitter account.
Much as I hate to give any publicity to a team owned by a horrible monster of a person, Golden Tate got it right when he posted that after learning of Jimmie Johnson's ESPY nomination. What is it about (some) nonathletes that makes them insist that what they do is athletic, too? Something can require skill, and dexterity, and intelligence, and not be a sport. Not everything is a sport, and if "sitting in a hot car" is a sport, (as one person argued with Tate), then my kids are athletes on par with Jimmie Johnson.
Tate didn't back down, either...
I've driven a car on unknown roads at night at 90mph no big deal. No sign of athletism
Not right away, anyway:
Apologies for my offensive comment to NASCAR fans. I actually read up on it and NO I couldn't race a car 150 mph
But then went right back to it:
me this from a distance who looks like a better athlete ? Lebron making a sick play or a guy or Jimmie riding on circles?
I guarantee u can train someone to drive a car but could u ever train someone to jump 40 inches, run a 4.5 forty??
Before backing down a little again:
I will say my respect for NASCAR has gone up tremendously yalls fans r hard nose and passionate #respect!
Jimmie Johnson even tweeted to him, inviting him to a race.
Can we get something straight, though? Tate's half-hearted backdown notwithstanding, driving is not athletic.
Not even if you're "trained to an extremely high level of fitness," as Johnson reportedly is. Lots of people are very fit. That doesn't make what they do for a living athletic. A partner at my firm is very fit -- he plays soccer six days a week and runs a 7 minute mile. Is bankruptcy law athletic?
So saying NASCAR racers are athletes for their racing is moronic: It doesn't matter how fit they are; it's what they do that matters, and what they do is drive. Yes, they drive fast, and turn left a lot, really fast, but that alone does not require athleticism, any more than driving a car on a videogame does.
(And, by the way, NASCAR is the only televised "sport" that is identical in real life and in videogames: if the NASCAR drivers all sat around and steered an Xbox, the sport would be identical, and wouldn't burn so much fossil fuel. You can't say that about football, or basketball, or even hockey.)
Tate, and I, are not alone in saying that NASCAR drivers aren't athletes. While NASCAR fans were slamming the doors of their trailers shut and throwing cans of PBR at the 'puter screen and scaring the dog they claim they "own" but which really just followed them home one day, one NASCAR driver was agreeing with Tate:
Carl Edwards, generally acknowledged to be one of NASCAR’s best-conditioned drivers, conceded that a driver doesn’t have to be an athlete to race.
(Source.) Will you be better at racing if you're physically fit? Maybe -- the same way you might be better at golfing if you're physically fit, too, and baseball -- golfing and baseball being two activities which have been played at a high level by fat guys:
There's something about some activities, though, that makes people who do them insist that they must be athletes to do them -- as though saying they're not athletes runs down the skill or intelligence needed to play them. It's not something that's confined just to the burnt-rubber-smelling ranks of race fans, though: chess players, too, insist that they're athletic (that being the only time NASCAR fans will be mentioned in the same sentence as chess players.)
Inevitably, NASCAR fans will take umbrage (that means offense, NASCAR fans; it's too bad Budweiser doesn't include trivia inside its caps the way those tea drinks do) at being told their heroes aren't athletes, and will say (as many said to Tate) that you or he or us can't drive a car at 150 miles per hour. To which I say:
A. I can, but you probably don't want to be in the vicinity when I do, because I will probably still try to check my email on my phone, and
B. I can say that you don't have to be an athlete to play golf (or drive a car at 150 miles per hour) without necessarily meaning that I can do it as well as the next guy; that's obviously not true -- different people don't have the same skill level at the same things, athletic or not, and my saying that guy isn't an athlete doesn't mean I'm saying that guy is just as much of a loser as I am or I can do what he does.
C. I only say that about NFL kickers. When I make fun of them, I mean that: I can do what they do. (I can't, but I still say it.)
So Tate saying that Jimmie Johnson isn't the athlete of the year because NASCAR isn't athletic is not only true, but also not an insult. He shouldn't have backed down, no matter how many NASCARites took to the Twitter to yell at him:
"Hun, you gotta get offa that 'puter and shut off your online restaurant managin' course; some dumb football player is makin' fun of racers, and I'm fixin' to put him in his place."
"You jes sit back, Earl. I ain't doin' that course. I'm lookin' at the pictures of Jeannie's cabbages she's growin, so you can go yell at someone later on. And take the trash out!"
"Billy Ray Cyrus ain't never had to wait to use a computer to set things straight."
"Billy Ray Cyrus got his girl to make them all millionaires. All you got your girl to do was learn how to steal my Marlboros."
Yeah. Something like that.