Poets on Sports

Have We Learned Anything?

by Justin CarterNASCAR Winter Testing - Day 2

Remember when Ray Rice knocked his fiancee out in an elevator? Roger Goodell suspended him for a few games, but then OMG THERE WAS A VIDEO & this video resulted in a yearlong suspension EVEN THOUGH THE NFL KNEW WHAT WAS ON THE TAPE BEFORE THEY SAW IT.

Remember that? & how it launched a talk about how domestic violence wasn’t acceptable? & how sports leagues decided to finally take the problem seriously & not wait for court rulings that probably wouldn’t come (because the justice system is pretty fucked up when it comes to convicting men of domestic violence) before making decisions about suspending players? (Though, let’s be serious, things are still not great– while the NBA slapped a twenty-four game fine on Jeff Taylor for violating domestic violence policies, the NFL still hasn’t really done much with Greg Hardy, & is their No More campaign just about positive PR? Is the NFL a really fucked up thing still? Yeah?)

Enter: NASCAR.

Kurt Busch & his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, are embroiled in a domestic violence case. Driscoll says that Busch slammed her head into a bedroom wall. Busch says Driscoll is a trained government assassin.

It’s a complicated case, maybe– except wait, a judge placed a no contact order on Kurt Busch. Which means a judge believed Driscoll’s case & felt that keeping Busch away from her was in her best interest. He also has to go to anger management classes.

This is the point where, if Busch was an NBA player, Adam Silver throws him out of the game for awhile. The no contact order was issued because the judge found Driscoll’s case to be valid. It’s not a Ray Rice video, but again– WE DIDN’T NEED TO SEE THE VIDEO.

As of now, though, NASCAR is letting Busch race in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Team owner Tony Stewart is letting Busch race. NASCAR wants to wait until the Attorney General in Delaware makes a decision, but again– getting a domestic violence charge is hard work.

NASCAR has a chance to take a stand here, a chance to say we take domestic violence seriously. For a sport that struggles with its public image, a sport that many people still see as a bunch of backwards rednecks (NASCAR fan here– NASCAR is not just a bunch of backwards rednecks), there’s an opportunity to change that image.

I subscribe to the NASCAR subreddit. It’s a great place to look at new paint schemes & to find out which random driver will be driving which random backmarker car each week. It’s also a place where I feel uneasy sometimes, especially when threads about Kurt Busch come up & all the comments refer to her as that crazy golddigging bitch. I’ve never gotten involved in these threads, because what’s the outcome? I get downvoted a lot & no one sees my post?

The Internet & its anonymity are dangerous. A hivemind that denies Driscoll’s claims on the basis of her waiting a few weeks before filing charges (as if the passage of time somehow cancels out abuse?) is dangerous. A governing body that looks the other way when a judge places a restraining order on one of their athletes is dangerous.

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About juscart

Justin Carter is the co-editor of Banango Street & an MFA candidate in Poetry @ Bowling Green State University. He enjoys the Rockets & Texans. He sometimes enjoys the Astros. His poems appear in Hobart, Red Lightbulbs, & Revolution House.

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2015 by .
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