- 02/01/2012, 11:18AM ET
J-Business said 02/01, 11:18 AM
I drive a car, as do most adults
But can a race car driver be considered an athlete?
From a layman's point of view, driving a car is a fairly basic routine
You can send text messages while you drive
You can eat a meal while you drive
I've seen woman doing their nails while they drive
However, can you drive a car 300 miles per hour while doing those activities, without killing yourself?
Personally, I think you have to be in at least decent shape to handle a car at those speeds and turns
You don't have to be in Olympic shape but I think it'd be quite difficult to handle the car and it's functions if you were overweight and in poor health
I'm sure race car drivers exercise regularly and make sure their arms and wrists are strong to handle the wheel
I would also imagine that they regularly jog and work out their legs so that they don't cramp
Also, if a normal person has to drive for a long distance, they normally pull over and take a breather
Race car drivers suck it up and keep going
There's also the heat and fumes in the car which make it difficult
So while they may not be typical athletes, I'd say they are professional athletes
BM. said 02/01, 11:39 AM
I'm not a NASCAR hater, for the record. I enjoy NASCAR.
Being "in decent shape" and being "an athlete" are two entirely different things.
I will simply compare NASCAR drivers to athletes of the other big 4 sports in order to prove my point.
Baseball - Speed, agility, quickness, extremely good hand-eye-coordination, etc...
Football - Speed, agility, quickness, POWER, toughness, jumping ability, fast feet, etc...
Hockey - Speed, agility, quickness, hitting power, toughness, fast feet, excellent endurance, great vision, etc...
Basketball - Jumping ability, fast feet, quickness, speed, agility, evasive ability, great vision, great hand-eye-coordination, etc...
Now on to NASCAR. They need endurance for sure. But really, what else is there? They don't need to be fast on their feet, they don't need to be agile or tough. They don't have to jump, get hit, or have good hand-eye coordination. They just need to be able to drive a car effectively for 2+ hours.
A pro athlete, to me, is someone who can use their skills to play just about sport with a bit of effectiveness. Athletes play sports that require those physical attributes.
J-Business said 02/01, 01:34 PM
A regular person can:
Throw a ball
Kick a ball
Get on ice and hit a puck
Throw a ball to the hoop
But it takes someone in good physical shape and also one who has been practicing it for years, to do this skill and get paid for it
The same thing exists for car racing
It's not just 2+ hours
It's more like 4+ hours
The 500 in the Daytona 500 stands for 500 miles
How many normal everyday people can drive a car at 300 miles an hour for those distances and do it competitively?
Not many and if they did, they'd be professionals
You said "they don't have to...get hit, or have good hand-eye coordination"
So you're saying that they don't have to avoid other cars, pass other cars and keep focused for 4 straight hours?
A pro athlete is someone who can perform a physical skill at a high level and get paid for it. This is what race car drivers do
The car is only part of the function. Having the ability to control the vehicle takes a lot of skill and part of it involves their physical strength
Professional race car drivers are paid good money
If it was so easy, everybody would do it
You have to respect their skill
BM. said 02/01, 02:26 PM
First of all, no car in NASCAR goes 300 miles per hour. These guys average about 185 miles per hour in a race.
And on road courses they average about 85 miles per hour.
Yes, it absolutely takes a guy in decent shape to be a pro NASCAR driver. That's true. That doesn't make him an athlete. The act of avoiding other cars and passing other cars is done simply by letting off the gas/stepping on the gas, and turning the steering wheel slightly. How is that athletic? The drivers are alert at all times. That's true. But in order to avoid an accident, the average driver on the average highway has to do the exact same things.
The fact that these guys do it at a higher speed doesn't make them athletes.
Yes, an athlete performs a physical skill and gets paid for it. Driving a car isn't a physical skill. Based on that, every UPS driver is an athlete. My grandmother is an athlete. Hell, paraplegics can still driver cars.
"The car is only part of the function."
No, the car is MOST of the function. The driver is just operating it. Some drivers are more skilled than others, but that doesn't make them more athletic.
I respect their skill, but they aren't athletes.
J-Business said 02/01, 03:22 PM
In regards to me saying "300 miles per hour", my fault, I was thinking in km's per hour
With that being said, there are different skill sets for different sports
A professional race car driver has to be able to handle a car at high speeds, get past competitors and do this for 4 hours straight.
A baseball pitcher stands on the mound and throws the ball
In rare instances the ball comes to him or he covers first base, but generally he just stands there and throws the ball
If he's in the American League, he will never bat
A kicker/punter in football kicks the ball and is discouraged from trying to tackle
The long snapper is only in the game for punts
Their on the field time is about 4 minutes a game
They are all athletes
Maybe not as much as other players but they are still athletes
A lay person can't pick up Tiger Wood's club and win the Masters nor can someone off the street get in Tony Stewart's car and challenge for the Daytona 500
It takes years of practice and honing their skills to be a professional race car driver
Their superior mental and physical skills in handling the car is what makes them professional athletes
BM. said 02/01, 04:48 PM
"With that being said, there are different skill sets for different sports"
That is absolutely true. Nobody ever disputed that.
You go on to describe the players of other sports and what they do in their respective roles. That's all well and good, but it doesn't mean that people driving cars are athletes.
How does driving a car compare to the following as far as athleticism is concerned:
1. Out-muscleing a 350 pound lineman to get to the opposing quarterback.
2. Sprinting through the outfield and making a leaping catch to rob a homerun.
3. Going coast-to-coast through all the defenders and scoring a highlight-reel goal in a hockey game.
4. Making a leaping dunk over a 6 foot 8 defender in a basketball game.
Those are all things that happen in the big 4 sports on a regular basis. They require strictly PHYSICAL attributes that NASCAR drivers couldn't dream of having. These are the types of plays that make an athlete and athlete.
A guy driving a car and shifting gears just doesn't cut it for me. I love NASCAR and what those guys do is amazing, but they are not athletes.
Good TD J-Biz.
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