Yet another season of auto racing has begun, and, like the last one, it's not about competition, but about the money. Oddly enough, we have also seen the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 this year. What is great about this is that the first winner of the race, Ray Haroun is well documented in text and photographs. The quintessential photo of him in his car, the Marmon Wasp, shows a man with an extra ordinary smile. It's part smile, part smirk. Why? Because he won the race, and enjoyed doing so.
Today's sports figures are in it for the money. No thrill of competition, no glory of being the best, it's all about the Benjamins. It's sad to see a competitive sport on any level become just a means of making money. The thrill of victory gives way to the thrill of a six-figure salary. Is this what our forefathers envisioned? What ever happened to competition, just for the sake of competing? Nearly all professional sports have become huge cash-intensive endeavors. The price of tickets to these events has climbed so high that the average fan can't afford to attend.
NASCAR is the poster boy for this trend. For several years now, race attendance has dwindled. Is it perhaps that the ticket prices are too high, or is it the constant barrage of merchandise (all NASCAR branded) that assaults attendees? It seems that the only thing that's important is making money.
For example, the just completed All-Star race was not marketed as a race itself, but as a "Who's going to win the million dollars?" event. Is the cash that important?
Think back to when we were young, and played games for the fun of it. Baseball, football, basketball were not compensated in any way other than the good time you had, and bragging rights You had no lawyer to protest the fact that you weren't chosen to play first base. You just went out there and did it for the fun of it.
That spirit still exists in the thousands of Softball leagues, beer leagues, and other such endeavors. People playing for the fun of it, no huge cash payouts, just fun. Perhaps if professional sports would follow that philosophy, the fans would start to return. Or, have the fans had enough?