At the beginning of this season, I read a blogger opine on whether IndyCar needs a “villain” to help drum up more interest in the sport. I’m sorry I can’t recall who it was at the moment, if I remember I will update with a link to the post. I remember thinking at the time that he had a point, because while I have a few drivers for whom I don’t particularly care, there isn’t really any one driver who I intensely dislike. After today’s race I realized IndyCar doesn’t need a driver who is a villain. IndyCar already has a villain.
This is the last blog post I wanted to be writing today, after an incredible race in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I haven’t had a chance to watch the race yet because I was performing my volunteer duties at the Maryland SPCA up in Baltimore today, but I did follow every lap on IndyCar Radio via my IndyCar 13 app. I plan to watch it off of my DVR tonight and I can’t wait to see all the action.
I want to be writing about Hinch’s second win this season, or how Andretti Autosport has won 3 of 4 races this season. I dearly want to be writing about how Marco is now the only driver to finish in the top 10 (I believe it may be the top 12 but can’t verify that right away) in all 4 races this season, or how he is now P2 in points, or how his finishes have kept me on top of Zach‘s IndyCar fantasy league (I believe I’m still up there after this week’s finish). I want to discuss Will Power’s season and how shocking it is to watch him struggle.
The reason I’m not writing about those things right now is because of IndyCar’s villain. On days like today, IndyCar’s villain is a group of its fans. More specifically, a group of its fans who are vocal on Twitter.
On my way home from the SPCA this afternoon, I stopped to pick up a few things at Target and fill up my gas tank. While in line at the Target register, I scrolled through Twitter and was shocked at what I saw. When I saw the following tweet by one of my IndyCar friends, Jason, I knew I wasn’t the only one who had noticed the disturbing trend.
Any kind of positive momentum or cool moments the series has always seem to be tempered by a bunch of us focusing on silly negative crap.
Jason noticed the same thing I had–there were far more tweets focusing on race control’s decision on Takuma Sato’s actions in the closing laps of the race than on the amazing finish. And the vast majority of those tweets weren’t even focusing on Sato’s on-track actions. They were talking about race control’s decision. I scrolled through Jason’s tweets and found a few more that expressed exactly what I was thinking.
Why are some Indycar fans and bloggers still fighting about the block/no block call on Sato? SMH. Stop it.
We just had one of the best races ever and rather than talk about that, we’d rather bitch about what race control did/ didn’t do. Let it go.
I encourage you to visit the page and read the rest of his tweets, but I will share just one more here, because it gets to the heart of why I believe this practice–which inevitably leads to sniping, arguing, and verbal ugliness–is bad.
And then we all wonder why we have a hard time getting non Indycar fans to become fans, its because so many of us act like brats about it.
I’m Twitter friends with a lot of IndyCar fans. I’d venture to guess that close to 1/3 of my Twitter friends are IndyCar-related. We don’t always agree on everything and hardly any of the friends I have are fans of the same driver and/or team of whom I am a fan. Each of us has attended different races at different times and we all have our favorites. We often disagree but we do it respectfully.
Today, however, people disagreed about race control’s decision and things got ugly fast. Again, people weren’t discussing Sato’s actions (though to be fair I have seen a few tweets in the past hour actually discussing the move). They were arguing, sniping, and complaining about race control’s decision. I saw people’s comments called stupid and disagreements turn ugly fast. And this wasn’t even an hour after the most exciting ending to a race in a long time.
I haven’t seen Sato’s move yet. I intentionally waited to watch it once I decided I was going to write this post. I have no opinion on it and I can’t speak to race control’s decision. But back to Jason’s point–how can we expect to draw new fans to IndyCar when they see current fans getting ugly with each other over something race control did?
Yes, we are passionate about IndyCar and we love to talk about it. If you’re like me, you don’t have a whole lot of real-life friends with whom you can have in-depth IndyCar discussions. My Twitter friends provide me with that outlet.
I know I’ve been turned off to a sports team, an actor, or a TV show more than once by its fandom. Fans who act crazy or are ugly to others can quickly turn me off to whatever or whoever it is they follow. Passion is great, but if you’re acting passionate about something that is hard to understand or seems tangential to the race, it’s going to turn people off quickly.
Why would a potential new fan want to invest time in learning about IndyCar when he or she sees current fans acting like many were today? It seems like some people just can’t let a positive stand on its own. They have to be looking for the negative and that is what they focus on.
If people want to hold a discussion about Sato’s move itself, and they can remain respectful of differing opinions, I say have at it! You want to discuss whether Marco has actually improved this season or just gotten very lucky? It’s pretty clear what I’m going to say, but I’ll discuss that with you all day long and I promise I will never resort to calling you names.
But sniping and complaining about a decision race control made that didn’t change the result of the on-track action? How can that possibly be beneficial?
I’m begging you, PLEASE focus on the amazing season we’ve had through the first four races. PLEASE celebrate the first-time winners, and the surprises in the point standings, and the amazing action on the track. Let potential new IndyCar fans learn what is great about the sport by reading respectful discussions that focus on the positive aspects of IndyCar. Or how about this–if you must discuss the actions of race control, do it in private, rather than out in the open where all of Twitter can see it.
If IndyCar must have a villain, let’s allow it to be someone on the track. There are so many great stories to this season, and that’s what we as fans should be talking about.