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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Safety measures are not causing fans to leave NASCAR.

The idea that steps toward ensuring safety following the death of Dale Earnhardt 10 years ago is responsible for the recent loss of fans in the grandstands and on television, is preposterous.

I heard that allegation on Good Morning America Sunday, complete with a comment from Brad Keselowski to back it up. I could hardly believe my ears.

This is disturbing on two main levels.

First, it would be hideous to think that people's enjoyment of racing is geared toward the potential death of a driver.

Mayhem is still a part of racing. Drivers still take risks. Accidents may add to the appeal of the sport, but when the driver walks away unscathed, that is the thrill. While people cavalierly admit they enjoy racing because of the danger, it is certainly not because anyone wants to see a drivers' life in jeopardy.

The other reason that more and better safety measures deterring fan interest is preposterous is because there are plenty of reasons to dislike what NASCAR has become.

Fans are turned off because of too many arbitrary rules, too many television commercials, an emphasis to put on a show rather than race in competition, the high cost of tickets, the endless emphasis on dollars over racing, a lack of diversity in the sport, distance from its stock-car racing legacy.

Making racing safer is one of the things NASCAR has done right.

Wherever this idea originated, put it to rest now. Safety has not deterred fans.