Don’t Be A Racing Snob
As George sometimes says; there is a racing tie-in here, so hang in there with me.
In the Phillips household, we watch a lot of sports. Let me rephrase that. George watches a lot of sports. If I want to visit with him when we’re both home, I have to sit in the den and look at the side of his head while he watches sports. I enjoy watching the Tennessee Titans, the Tennessee Vols and of course Indy car races. But I’ll swear he would watch any football game that might be on the most obscure channel on our cable system.
I love Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday nights. He can’t stand it. But will he sit in the den while I watch it? No, he’ll go to the back room and watch Louisiana Tech play North Texas in football. He will watch the most meaningless games. I’m convinced he would watch the referees scrimmage each other if it was televised. Even if he’s in the other room completely involved with something else, he’ll hear if I change the channel away from football.
Now that football is over it’s not as bad, because George is not that into basketball. He’ll watch the Vols, but he doesn’t get all jagged out if they lose like he does with football. Now he’s getting restless wanting the racing season to start.
This is the time of year when I’m more into a sport than he is – hockey. In fact, I keep up with the Nashville Predators a lot more than he does. Neither of us grew up with hockey, but for four years I was the “hockey mom” for my son Eric’s high school team. The Predators were still fairly new in Nashville when Eric started playing in 2004. As a freshman, Eric could hardly even play but he quickly fell in love with the game. But hard work and desire overcame his lack of talent. He improved every year. By his senior year, he was the starting goaltender – not because he was so good, but the parents of their starting goalie made him quit the team. No one else would do it, so Eric volunteered. It wasn’t pretty at times, but he got the job done and sacrificed his senior year as a forward for the good of the team.
Eric was one of the few players that didn’t lace up a pair of skates until his freshman year. Most of the other kids had been playing hockey since they were four years old. They grew up in hockey households, mainly because they moved here from the north. I got along with most of the parents, but George called them “hockey snobs”. He claimed he couldn’t even carry on a conversation with them about what was going on with the team, because they discounted everything he said since he didn’t grow up with hockey.
As much as I hate to admit it, he was right. I was the team’s representative for the league’s board. I was considered the ditzy southern blonde that knew nothing about the sport and was never taken seriously, since I wasn’t a grizzled hockey parent.
If you haven’t checked the NHL standings lately, the Nashville Predators were tied with the best record in the whole league heading into Thursday night. I ran into some of my former fellow hockey moms last weekend. Not having much else in common with them these days, I mentioned how well the Predators are doing and that George and I might go to a few games. Actually, George went with his friend John McLallen (from One Take Only) to a game last month, one night when I was out of town.
But the reaction I got from my former hockey friends was an eye-roll with disgust. When I asked what was wrong, they went off about the bandwagon hockey fans. They were actually mad that the arena was now packed every night with fans that hadn’t been there before. For the next ten minutes, they griped about these new fans that knew nothing about hockey.
If Indy car suddenly became popular, I wondered how the longtime fans would feel. George swears that fans would welcome them with open arms because they are so desperate for new fans. Would they?
I worked in religious publishing for 27 years. I was always irked when I heard the ministers we worked with, talk in a very condescending way about people that would show up for church on Christmas Eve and Easter. Their attitude was that they wish they just wouldn’t show up at all. My thought was they should be glad they come at all. That’s the way I feel about the hockey snobs.
I’ll be blunt. I know very little about racing. Far less than those who come here three times a week. I know that. George knows that. I can say a lot of snarky things about my husband, but I can’t say he’s a racing snob. He loves the chance to introduce new fans to the sport. He doesn’t talk down to them or try to show off how much he knows. He takes his time with them and understands they are starting from scratch. He is very patient with them. I wish he was that patient with other parts of his life.
We know very few Indy car fans here in Nashville. Most of the time when we come across fans it’s at Indy or other tracks. Most are very friendly and accommodating and understand that I’m not as up to speed as most fans are. They seem OK with it and don’t mind explaining themselves if I ask a question. But there have been a very small percentage that seem to be the racing snob. If I don’t know who the next midget star is or who Sam Hanks was, they roll their eyes at me and never look my way the rest of the conversation.
I’ve also heard snide remarks made by a few about those that go to the infield for the party and don’t care if they even see a car. From what I’ve read here in the comments section, a lot of y’all were bitten by the racing bug in the infield in the 70s and 80s and eventually became the die-hard fans that you are today.
George and I went to the Nashville race together twice in 2002 and 2003 before I went to my first Indy 500 in 2004. I didn’t know what I was getting into and I’m lucky that George took time to explain things.
Back then, the fan club was called The Crew. I contacted some people online and made arrangements to take a cake to them for a function before the race one year, while George wandered around the garages. Some were very nice, and some were not. There were many who seemed to be asking why I was there if I didn’t know much about the sport. I got the feeling I was intruding on their little club that traveled around to races each week and sat around and told the same old stories. I was the interloper.
It’s funny. I’ve gotten to be friends with some of the ones that were nice to me that day. I still see some of them at Indy each year. The ones that were rude and snobby? I haven’t seen them since.
We enjoy taking new fans to races. Just last year, Eric, who’s now 25, brought his latest girlfriend to Indy just last year. We all did our best to take our time and explain what all was going on. They broke up later last summer, but she was one of many brand new fans that have sat with us in the last ten years.
What I’m getting at is if you come across new fans at the track or even in a conversation; don’t make them feel stupid or unwelcome just because they don’t know as much as you or haven’t followed the sport as long as you have. The hockey snobs always made me feel inferior. So did some of the racing snobs at The Crew. Don’t be a racing snob.