Don’t Avoid The Obvious
Normally, I don’t seek out controversy. I try to look at things in a positive light, while being realistic. This post focuses more on being realistic. I know many will disagree with me here, and that’s fine. Just know that I’m not purposely trying to stir things up.
By now, we’ve all seen the terrible crash that put James Hinchcliffe’s life in peril and ultimately out of the Indianapolis 500 and racing in general for the foreseeable future. After some vague updates the day that it happened, more detailed and gruesome reports began to surface on Tuesday, once we learned that Hinchcliffe was out of immediate danger.
Make no mistake – this was a serious accident and had it not been for the heroics of the Holmatro Safety Team, there may have been a totally different outcome.
While perusing social media the last few days, I’ve noticed many people begging ABC to not show the Hinchcliffe crash in their pre-race show. My question is, why not?
I don’t care for ghoulish behavior. I was repulsed when fans tried to get small pieces of debris from Dale Earnhardt’s car after he was fatally injured at Daytona in 2001. It’s even more sickening when items like that end up on eBay.
I’ve not been overly kind to ABC/ESPN over the years, but I will give them credit for making proper decisions in situations like this. After the disastrous start to the 1995 Indianapolis 500, once they realized the severity of the accident to Stan Fox – they stopped showing replays. When Greg Moore lost his life in 1999 at Fontana, the only glimpse we had of that horrifying accident was when it was shown live. It was probably pretty obvious to those doing replay that there was a good chance it could be a fatality. In the name of sensitivity and decency, they chose not to replay it at all throughout the rest of the race broadcast – even after Dr. Steve Olvey confirmed Moore’s death on the air.
I ripped former IndyCar announcer Marty Reid for years, but he handled the Wheldon fatality at the season-ending race at Las Vegas about as well as anyone could – given the circumstances. When the next season started at St. Petersburg, ABC chose not to run actual footage of the Wheldon crash. Instead, they showed still photos that conveyed the mayhem on the track without showing the gruesomeness of the crash.
But this is different. James Hinchcliffe is alive and expected to make a full recovery. He was moved out of ICU on Wednesday and is said to need no more surgical procedures. I’ve not heard anything about whether or not he’ll race again, but considering what happened Monday – I would think that is probably secondary at this point. By the time Sunday rolls around, that crash will be almost a week old. Every hard-core fan has seen the You Tube videos of the crash. I didn’t watch it because of any morbid curiosity. I watched it because I wanted to know what happened and compare it to the other crashes from last week, where the drivers walked away.
I dare say that, except for my mother, there is probably not a person reading this right now that has not seen the video. Yet, some people think that the casual fans who will tune into an IndyCar race since last May should not be allowed to watch it. I’ll be willing to bet you that every holier-than-thou person that is screaming for ABC to not show the video has watched it themselves.
Quite honestly, I’ll be shocked if ABC does not show it. I think they should. Not that they should do it as a ratings grab – even though that may be a consequence of showing it – but it is the most significant story of this month of May. James Hinchcliffe is one of the most popular drivers in the paddock. For him to be out of the race and not explain and show why, is doing a disservice to viewers that have not seen the crash.
If it isn’t shown, does that make people think it never really happened? Are the trio in the booth to just explain what happened and tell people if they want to see it to just go to You Tube? That would come across as lazy journalism.
How about we ask IMS to re-issue their Legends DVDs without video of the Eddie Sachs-Dave McDonald crash? That crash shows a gruesome fireball and another explosion when Sachs hits McDonald’s car. We all know that Sachs burned to death right there in his car on the straightaway and that McDonald died a few hours later. Should that be erased from all archival footage and never be shown again? No.
Yes, there are a few losers that like to watch races just for the crashes. But most people – even the casual fans – want to see good clean racing with no injuries. ABC/ESPN should not deny them the view that we all saw this week. Being hardcore fans does not entitle us to see something that casual fans shouldn’t also see. The fans should decide if they want to watch it or not – not have ABC decide for them. Perhaps ABC can warn them that it is coming and may be disturbing to some. If they choose not to, they can look away.
But if I am a casual fan tuning in for my one IndyCar race each year, I want to see it – not to get my kicks, but to see just how bad this was to put a driver out of the race and to see what others have been talking about. So allow the casual fans to see what we’ve all seen this week. It’s been in the mainstream news. There’s no sense in avoiding it. Show it in a tasteful manner and move on.