The drinks are cold; the snacks are hot, and millions of people wait in anticipation for a line of cars to start moving. This is a typical Sunday for a NASCAR fan. Although it might be hard for some people to understand the interest in watching a bunch of cars drive in a circle, racing can be a lot of fun to watch, but is NASCAR a sport?
Although the drivers are not your typical athletes, NASCAR racing does fall under the category of motorsport, and when comparing it to the definition of a sport, it checks all the boxes.
Continue reading to learn more about NASCAR and find out how it compares to the definition of what makes something a sport.
What Is NASCAR?
One of the funny things about this debate is that it is hard to describe NASCAR without using the word “sport”. Still, NASCAR (which stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) is the largest, and most popular, racing organization in the United States.
Stock car racing started growing in popularity after World War II, but it lacked organization, and with no clearly defined rules or regulations, many drivers felt the races were unfair at best. However, in 1947, in a hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, a meeting was held to discuss the future of stock car racing. Only a few months later, on February 21st, 1948, NASCAR was officially founded by a gentleman named Bill France Sr, and this changed the world of racing forever.
Today, NASCAR is a sanctioning body that sanctions and governs more than 1,200 races across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. There are three national series—the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series—and several other regional, local, and international series. The rules and regulations differ between series, such as what type of car can be used, and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of it all, but it all becomes a second language to fans.
The NASCAR Debate
Even though NASCAR is classified as a “motor sport”, there is a longstanding debate simmering between fans and nonfans about whether NASCAR racing can truly claim itself as a sport.
On the one hand, people claim that since drivers simply sit in a vehicle and drive in circles, they cannot be considered true athletes. However, fans would respond to that by saying that even though the drivers may not seem like your typical athletes, they still train and withstand harsh conditions.
Additionally, many on the side of “not a sport” like to compare NASCAR racing to golf when debating the validity of the sport, but fans would say that is like comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruits, but they still have major differences.
Ultimately, both sides can construct a decent argument. Sure, NASCAR drivers may not be the most muscular bunch, and we highly doubt they are all hitting a gym ten hours a day, but physical fitness is not the only thing that makes something a sport.
What Makes Something a Sport?
According to Dictionary.com, a sport can be defined as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature…”, and it goes on to list racing in the definition. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. Similarly, according to one of the definitions of sport in the Cambridge Dictionary, a sport is “a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job.”
Still, the technical definition of something can vary widely from the general world view of real people, and after reading several comments and debates, it seems as though in the minds of many, a sport is something that requires physical athleticism, competition, and most of the time, teams.
According to the definitions, a sport requires competition of some type, and NASCAR has competition covered. The most obvious competition happens on the track, with drivers aggressively trying to secure the leading spot. What may seem like driving in circles to most is actually skilled drivers trying to find the right opening, trying to find ways to reduce their pit stops, and eventually, doing everything they can to defend their position.
Additionally, anyone who has ever been around a true NASCAR fan knows they are willing to die to defend their driver, and this can result in some serious competition between fans—both friendly and not so friendly.
Rules are another common theme in sports and NASCAR checks that box too. In fact, this may be one of the most confusing things about NASCAR because many of these rules and regulations are not widely known. However, many of them parallel those of other sports, such as what kind of equipment can be used and how drivers are expected to behave.
Although not all sports require teams, most of them require teamwork of some kind. For example, even though tennis is played by one person, that person has a coach, trainer, and other individuals that help them throughout their career. Although fans of NASCAR root for one driver instead of a team, that driver has a qualified team behind them. Drivers rely on their sponsors, pit crew, and road crew to all work together to form a winning team.
NASCAR Physical Fitness
There is no denying that many of the most popular sports require a lot of physical exertion and racing is not the most physically demanding activity. However, while drivers may not be hitting the gym regularly, they train in other ways. And although it may not seem noticeable to spectators, the conditions they endure are taxing.
Skill is where NASCAR drivers excel, and it is also one of the biggest things needed in a sport. Football players are drafted based on skill, golf players must be skilled to work their way up to the top, and NASCAR drivers need skills to stay alive. NASCAR driving is not your typical everyday driving, and even though they make it look easy, it requires a lot of skill to keep a vehicle on the road while other drivers are bumping into you.
You may find the following posts helpful:
How are NASCAR numbers assigned? (external link Treestoneclub.com)