By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Can Black Racers Get A Fair Shake At Sponsorships And Rides?
SAN ANTONIO – NASCAR has their diversity program and have come out and say that it is a rousing success. Ever since I slammed Spike Lee for his backward statements about NASCAR and the racial overtones, I have gotten a good share of e-mails from those in motor sports extolling their triumphs, disappointments and successes in their respective sports. Most recently I learned about a phenomenal NHRA racer by the name of Kelly Lyons (www.kellylyons.com) from her publicist and I was quite thrilled to see that young lady was living her dream. I even found out about a motorcycle racing team that was all African American called One Shot Racing. These and many other stories have all come to my attention and have given me some knowledge of what’s out there in motor sports. However I still have this burning question: why are these pioneers and others like them having a hard time finding rides, sponsorships and funding where other non-Blacks are not?
I guess I have this dream of things being in a Utopia and that is very dangerous and unreal. However I am looking at the hottest sport right now, NASCAR, and I still scratch my head. How come there hasn’t been a talented Black driver break that barrier unto the Nextel Cup circuit. When will sponsorship be there for a fully owned African American racing team to successfully compete in open wheel competition? Will Chase Austin pick up the baton that has been handed to him by Marty Buckles, George Mack, Bill Lester and others? Will Formula 1 ever see the day a driver like Mack go up against Michael Schumacher at Monoco, Germany or even the U.S.? See these are the questions I want to get answered because it should not be hard for global Fortune 500 companies to not want to sponsor talented drivers who just happen to be minorities especially in NASCAR and the open wheel events sanctioned by the IRL and/or CART bodies. There should be no reason why companies that cater to the Black lifestyle not sponsor racing teams that are owned by successful African Americans. Crown Royal and Hennessey should be sponsoring teams just because we drink so much of the darn stuff.
In all seriousness there may be some type of diversity programs in the works and some may actually be working but are they truly effective? In today’s microwave society where even Blacks want instant results, this community is starving for something new to follow and latch on. Motor sports happen to be the hottest ticket even in this community. There are diehard NASCAR fans that are African American and Hispanic and it’s not by coincidence. For many if they are in areas where these races are, they go to them just as easily as if going to a Detroit Pistons game or watching the Washington Nationals play like a contender at Wrigley Field. If motor sports want to truly grow exponentially, then it is time for NASCAR, IRL and CART to help find the next Danika Patrick or Michael Schumacher who is a ‘brown skin’. The well is there to be tapped. It is up to these motor sport entities and the corporate sponsors to tap into the well and drink abundantly from it.
ONE OF THESE DAYS A LESSON WILL BE THRUSTED UPON AN ATHLETE Kenny Rogers has to be either the luckiest ‘mofo’ on the planet or either he is just dumb enough to attack not one but two cameramen because they were doing their job. I can picture it now and I’m telling you one of these days a great justice will be given to the sports fan. One of these days an athlete is going to go after someone in the news media who isn’t afraid of somebody like Tom Hicks or George Stienbrenner. One of these days an athlete is going to cross the line and instead of beating up on a helpless $40,000 camera, said athlete is going to face a pissed off journalist who knocks the athlete flat on his pampered ass. You want to talk about having something to chatter about at the water cooler. I wonder what Rogers would have done if the one of those cameramen unloaded with a couple of fast body shots and then unceremoniously used a few martial arts moves that had Rogers laid out for the rest of the season? It would be a serious message sent I assure you of that.
What Rogers did was inexcusable and there shouldn’t be a professional athlete or fan saying that he was provoked. That little temper tantrum destroyed a man’s livelihood but I don’t think any pro athlete, playing or retired, can fully understand what these young men are going through. What’s even worse is that word has leaked that the Texas Rangers have backdoor their way out of the punishment decision making and have let it totally be up to the Major League Baseball. Whoever handles this matter needs to make sure that the media is well taken care of from now on. As Tom Hicks and Rogers understand things, it was just a spur of the moment. Well if that is the case then I’m sure they won’t mind it when a criminal and civil case file because it was ‘spur of the moment’ for the victims too. Punishment needs to thrusted upon Rogers in a swift manner. This shouldn’t be dragged any later than next week but then again we know how posturing works in this business.