Thought experiment time. Let's say you're a NASCAR driver with a bit of a rep for running afoul of the rules. You have an on-track dustup with another driver, the kind of thing that, in most cases, demands retaliation in the time-honored "you bump me, I bump you" kind of way. But you know you're out of chances, so you behave. Afterward, you're asked about your on-track demeanor. Do you:
A. Say something humble-yet-still-manly along the lines of, "Sure, I had my hands tied, and I wish I could have handled this myself, but I've got to pay my debt. He'd better not try that once I'm off probation."
B. Offer a terse "no comment" or even storm off with a "this interview's over."
C. Laugh it off and work in a clever sponsor mention.
D. Threaten to beat the (expletive) out of the reporter asking the question.
If you answered A, B or C, you're as media-ready as any NASCAR driver. If you answered D, you're Kurt Busch. Behold:
Yes, Busch lit into another reporter, this time Sporting News' Bob Pockrass. This follows, in recent months, Busch denying he said a quote after the Richmond race, then tearing up the transcript that had that quote; condescending to a broadcast reporter with a profanity; and making snide responses in a press conference that undermined the fact that he actually seemed to be at least partially in the right.
Pockrass was asking about Busch's ongoing run-ins with Justin Allgaier on the track during Saturday's Nationwide race. And while NASCAR's code generally demands (and permits) drivers to settle minor disputes on-track, hockey-fight-style, Busch knew that his probation meant he had zero room to offer up concrete justice. And so he took out his frustrations on the guy asking the question.
This, to put it in Kurt's terms, is bull(expletive).
Kurt, if you're reading this: enough, man. Enough. Stop acting like you're some aggrieved innocent being wronged by NASCAR and the media. You're not. You still have a lot of fans who want to see you do well, and you're doing everything you can to (expletive) all over them and your own image.
Stop acting like Big Bad NASCAR is so cruelly and unfairly persecuting you. Ditch the snide-sarcasm act, take responsibility for your actions, and control yourself. Yes, what you do is incredibly stressful, and most of us out here have no idea how tough it is. But we do see 42 others handling the same exact stresses as you, yet somehow they're able to hold themselves together, week after week.
I get you wanting to punch a NASCAR reporter, trust me. But stop acting like reporters are being unfair or "starting something" by asking legitimate questions about on-track actions. If you're going to only talk about "racing" as you see it, fine, we can play that game too. For instance, we can identify you and your car just fine by discussing the (team name redacted) (sponsor name redacted) (manufacturer name redacted) No. 51, if you get our drift. And again, reporters ask the same kinds of questions of everybody, not just you. Trust us, we can match every gripe you have about dull, irrelevant questions with a gripe about lifeless, sponsor-slinging responses.
Dude, I'd love to see you do well, especially this year. You have the opportunity to prove that the driver is more important than the machine. That's a hell of a story, which is what any real reporter roots for. And you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself on the fly, which is something not a lot of people who fall from grace get the chance to do.
It's all right there in front of you, man. Win — or at the very least, keep your (expletive) together in the face of very tough situations — and you set yourself up for the rest of your career. But you seem hell-bent on doing everything your way, despite the fact that Your Way is screwing you, and people who invest money and/or hopes in you, week after week after week.
Since your name's not Dale Earnhardt Jr., you need NASCAR a hell of a lot more than NASCAR needs you. You still don't seem to get that, but you're getting closer every day to learning that lesson the hard way.
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