I will admit the idea from this article stemmed from a great conversation I was able to be a part of on Twitter yesterday afternoon. It all started with a simple tweet from @WhateverJoel: “Whatever happened to honest criticism of IndyCar? There’s too much cheerleading, or people with unrealistic expectations.
As we begin the championship this weekend at St. Pete, the series has its standard momentum. Lots of buzz and excitement teamed with a new title sponsor and it would seem that everyone has a reason to be happy. The issue is not typically the buzz or news that is related to the series, rather on track action and penalties or rules that stem from what is some of the best racing anywhere (10 grid spot penalty for engines, what is avoidable contact?). Yup, that is usually what turns a series from a creditable championship and makes it the shit show we are complaining about at the end of the season. From there, we spend the whole offseason upset about our championship and begin to bitch an moan about how there are not enough ovals on the championship, why are we not going to Mazda Laguna Seca, and why are there not enough Americans in the series.
It is criticism listed above that stops any hope of constructive criticism. The minute you mention the fact IndyCar is having issues in race control or state the series is just not appealing to sponsors at the moment, you become public enemy #1. YOU are suddenly the problem with IndyCar and it is people like you that should just stop watching the series and take up tin tops or Formula 1. That’s all fine and dandy until you realize that if people really did that, IndyCar would fail. The reality of the situation is its not always farting rainbows and shitting Skittles (to quote Doug). If people who offer honest criticism of IndyCar went away, the series would fail and those who complain about the criticism would have nothing to watch.
Think of it like your son or daughter playing sports. You love them as they are your kids and you will cheer them on through any slump, missed fly ball, or easy penalty kick. Others will be critical of your child and you will become upset. The fact is though, who is helping your child more? You who refuse to address the poor performance, or the parent critical of your child? The moral of the story is that people or entities cannot get better without honest criticism. Sometimes the thing that makes us better is someone telling us when we screw up and calling foul.
My only criticism form this offseason has been well documented. What happened to utilizing social media in a n attempt to grow your brand? Why not promote what you have in hopes of bringing more into the fold? You have claimed a title sponsor and you had a lot of great news releases in the couple weeks leading into St. Pete, but where were you before? Some would argue that videos via YouTube would be a waste, some would say that is a great idea. I say if money and personnel is such an issue, then why not maximize the cheapest form of advertising (social media). Take out ads and promote videos of your drivers. Tell stories of the best finishes in IndyCar history and build the quality of your on-track product. Sadly, another year has gone by and another opportunity missed.
My criticism above is not spelling the end for IndyCar or saying how bad they suck at what they do. It was a point that I felt needed to be addressed this offseason and was not. Not so painful was it?
At the end of the day, we cannot sit and all be cheerleaders all of the time. Now I will be this weekend while watching the Firestone Grand Prix at St. Pete because we are finally back to what matters and that is racing. What IndyCar has done right is develop a safe car that loves to race. While I hope we will not be talking about the series for the wrong reasons (see Tudor United Sports Car Championship), I am excited to see some of the talent really take it up a notch this season.
We all have to get on the same page and engage with fans in regards to the constructive criticism of our sport. We cannot harbor ill feelings or attack what we love, because at the end of the day, we all love IndyCar and only want to see it succeed. We just cannot sit on the side of the field with our cheerleading garb on pretending everything is ok all of the time.