It’s Tough Being Outside The Loop
Some may see this as nothing more than a pointless rant. If you’re not in the mood for that, I might suggest that you move on and check back here on Monday. I promise to have a racing-based post with an historical slant to it. If you’re in the mood to hear a defensive sounding whine that comes close to alienating and insulting the lifeblood of a blogger – a reader, then feel free to continue reading.
We bloggers open ourselves up for criticism every time we post. We understand that. There are a lot of folks out there – the Legions of the Miserable, as I’ve always called them – that like to slink around from site to site just to play the game of “gotcha”. We know that from time to time, someone is going to misinterpret something we wrote or not understand our point of view. A lot of times, it’s our own fault for not conveying our message better. I’ve certainly fallen into that trap more than once.
I consider myself to be a fairly even-keeled, thick-skinned guy. I guess all of us have those moments when something sets us off, yet you can’t really pinpoint why. I experienced one of those moments on Wednesday morning.
Since I first started this site in May of 2009, I have received more than a few comments and e-mails correcting me on different pieces of misinformation I have put out into the blogosphere. When writing about a subject I’m not very familiar with, I try to research my topic before I start blindly typing away. For example, I’m not a gearhead. I know who the engine manufacturers have been over the years, but I do not understand the minute differences between them enough to explain how or why Honda regularly embarrassed Chevy and Toyota in 2004 & 2005. But if I were to write a post about it, I would try to read up on it enough to at least be conversant on the subject.
Every now and then, I get a little too confident in my ability to recall tidbits that I thought I had committed to memory – especially when I write about the Indianapolis 500. That is a subject I feel the most confident talking and writing about and I sometimes rely on my memory without looking something up, and it bites me. Sometimes I’ll misstate a fact and get called on the carpet on it by readers of this site, as it should be. When that happens, I’ll quickly acknowledge it with something like “Oops! I stand corrected” or something equally non-witty.
Some corrections are comical, although they don’t mean to be. One comes to mind from a couple of years ago when I was writing about Helio Castroneves. I mentioned that Helio might be saying something under his breath in Portuguese. A reader posted a comment pointing out my supposed flaw, stating that Helio isn’t from Portugal; he’s from Brazil and speaks Brazilian. Hmmm…
Sometimes readers will point it out on the comment section, which is fine. Others will have the decency to send me an e-mail pointing out something I mistakenly said. Whichever means of correcting me is fine. I really don’t mind. If I’m clearly wrong, I don’t mind. If someone shares a different opinion than mine, I don’t mind.
Somehow you knew there was a “but” coming. At the risk of sounding defensive, I received an e-mail on Wednesday regarding my post about Sarah Fisher, that rubbed me the wrong way. It didn’t bother me at first, but as the day went on it irritated me more and more as I stewed (and yes, I’m a legendary stewer).
It started out nice enough. The reader, who shall go unnamed, stated how much he liked my blog and thought that I was doing a good job. So far, so good. It was the next paragraph where this e-mail took a strange turn. The reader implored me to please do a better job of research about Sarah Fisher Racing. He went on to explain very carefully that although the team is called Sarah Fisher Racing, Sarah was only the face of the team and handled only the PR side. He then informed me that it was really her father-in-law John O’Gara and husband Andy O’Gara that really ran the team. Really?
However, it was the next sentence that really made me fume throughout the day on Wednesday: “I mean this with no disrespect to you, but with your not being located in Indy and only being around teams once or twice a year at Indy and a couple of races a year, you aren’t in the loop”. When I first read it, my eyebrows raised. As I continued to think about it, it kept gnawing at me throughout the day.
The first question that came to mind was; what in the world does geography have to do with anything? It is true that I don’t live in Indianapolis. It is also true that I am not a journalist. I am a fan and I do this as a hobby. But in my immediate response, I explained to the reader that I have written several posts on Sarah Fisher over the years, I had a personal interview with Sarah and Ed Carpenter both this past May, and for the most part – my research has been spot-on. I also felt the need to explain that I was fully aware that Sarah handled the PR end, while her husband and father-in-law made the racing decisions.
The reader also pointed out my not understanding that Dollar General made their decision long before the end of September and that had I been more in the loop, I would better understand PR spin from the teams. Grrrr!!!
Again, I felt the need to defend myself. I tried to point out that (even though I tend to be morbidly verbose) for brevity sake, I didn’t see the need to get into every piece of minutia in my post – just to show how much I know. I told him that I knew there was much more to the ResQ story than just a sponsor not sending the check. There were major miscommunications on both sides and things got really ugly. Because I didn’t go into those details, does that mean I didn’t know them? Is that an indication that I’m out of the loop?
Curiously enough, this e-mail was from a person I had never heard of. He has never left a comment (under this name), nor has he ever e-mailed me before. To add to the confusion, he never identified any group or organization that would make him considered to be "inside the loop". Coincidence or not, I happened to receive another e-mail from him last night that appeared to be a spam e-mail sent to many others about how to start a home based business. Nice.
I have seen other sites where a blogger will personally attack anyone in their comment section who does not agree with them. I always tried to follow the rule that it wasn’t ever a good idea to attack your readers. Instead, be glad you’ve got them – they are the reason we keep doing this. I never understood bloggers who hold their own readers in contempt. Personally, I’ve always been a little cocky that the readership here was more than a cut above many of the other sites. Perhaps I overreacted to this reader only because it was 5:45am when I read the e-mail. But I could not understand the logic that by me living outside of Marion County, somehow made me less able to understand the sport.
There are many things I don’t know about IndyCar racing. I don’t pretend to be Curt Cavin, Robin Miller or Marshall Pruett. But give me a little credit. I’ve been following this sport long enough to know a few things. I know that Sarah handles the PR end of her team. You know what else? I also know that Larry Foyt makes the day-to-day decisions at AJ Foyt Racing instead of his legendary father; and that Paul Newman and Carl Haas no longer call the shots at Newman/Haas. And before I get more e-mails, I am aware that Paul Newman is deceased.
I welcome corrections and constructive criticism – I really do. All I ask is to please base them on facts and logic. I realize I’m shallow, superficial and petty, but I do want to get things right. If my facts are wrong, please tell me. I have family members who alert me to typos every day, but misstated facts get past them a lot. Because, yes – I get things wrong sometime. But please don’t assume that because I live in Nashville and not Indianapolis, that I am completely isolated from the goings on of the IZOD IndyCar Series and am therefore – out of the loop.