So many unfinished posts. They just loom there in my Drafts folder, tapping their fingers on the table, eyebrows raised in silent judgment. They’re really starting to get on my nerves.
I realize now I haven’t posted anything on this blog in more than a month, and it has nothing to do with waning interest in the sport, which I still spend an unseemly percentage of my waking hours obsessing over. No, it has to do with the increasingly stringent standards I gradually set for myself in terms of post quality. What started out as brief, flippant comments on races and F1 news items eventually became long essays — and you know what’s a pain in the ass to write? Long frickin’ essays.
As an exercise in shame — and possibly as an exercise in freeing myself of them once and for all — I’m listing some of my unfinished posts from this season, along with brief excerpts, starting with the most recent.
1. To All the Racing Drivers [the one about all the recent tragedy]
As more than one person has blithely pointed out lately, no one is making racing drivers do what they do. And yes, there is no doubt about that. No one is out there grudgingly accepting a race seat just because they weren’t able to land that plum investment banking job when they graduated college. They’re doing it because they love it. I imagine they’d do it even if none of us were there to see it. In many cases, they pay to do it — sometimes they pay everything they have and more to do it. Sebastian Vettel has said he’d absolutely pay to race if that’s what he had to do, and I don’t doubt it for a minute.
The drivers are doing what they love most. At the same time, they’re doing what we love. Everyone wins, right?
At times like right now, it doesn’t quite feel that way.
2. In Defense of Schumacher
I get that people don’t like seeing their hero — or even the driver they most love to hate — apparently not able to perform to the standards he’s performed to in the past. But you know what? It isn’t their life! I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I don’t believe a championship athlete owes much of anything to his fans other than doing what he loves to the best of his ability. Actually, okay, there are a few things I suppose I might argue an athlete owes us. Just off the top of my head:
- Don’t be a dick to your fans.
- Always try your hardest.
- Don’t cheat.
And actually, in the case of F1, I’d have to say #3 in that list is pretty iffy, considering the way instances of cheating have a tendency to be handwaved away as both ubiquitous and entirely expected (see, e.g., Pat Symonds’ warm welcome back to the sport). In general, though, those three things are the most I ever expect from an athlete, and I’d say that anything they give us beyond that is a bonus and not mandatory. Preserving their own legacy in some nebulous way that makes fans and pundits feel warm and fuzzy when they think back on their career? No, I don’t think that’s any kind of requirement.
3. Untitled post after the European Grand Prix
One of the news items I’ve seen most often since the end of Sunday’s race reports that Sebastian Vettel’s rivals have now more or less given up on this year’s championship — except for when they 100% change their mind about that the next day, which is totally cool with me. I know exactly what that’s like. Sometimes I’ll be playing Angry Birds, and there will be some damn level that has me just foaming with rage, and I’ll be all, “I’M NEVER PLAYING THIS FRICKING GAME EVER AGAIN. WHAT’S THE POINT? I’M OBVIOUSLY NEVER GETTING PAST THIS EFFING LEVEL.” But after a good night’s sleep, or perhaps ten minutes later, my outlook is much different.
What Sebastian Vettel’s opponents are feeling during most races these days almost certainly at least approaches, if not equals, my frustration with Angry Birds, so I’m absolutely sympathetic. My advice to them, based on my own experience, would be to sleep on it before stating publicly that they’ve lost all hope. They might consider seeking out YouTube videos illustrating how other drivers have gone about beating Sebastian Vettel in the past, which can be very instructive. There might also be online message boards out there with names like beatingvettelhints.com. (I don’t recommend that eagle thing, though, because I guess you have to pay extra for that.)
4. Formula 1, NASCAR, and Your Average American
And let’s not forget that what NASCAR represents to many of us is the worst of what American sports, in all its commercialization, has become. College football “Bowl Games” here used to have names like the “Orange Bowl,” the “Sugar Bowl, and, of course, the “Rose Bowl.” Over time, these names have been overtaken by sponsors, and it’s now the “Discover Orange Bowl,” the “Allstate Sugar Bowl,” and. . .well, the “Rose Bowl.” I guess no one was willing or able to mess with that one.
Take a look at the entire 2010-2011 Bowl Game schedule, though. The Chik-fil-A Bowl? The Capital One Bowl? The — God help us — GoDaddy.com Bowl?
. . . Saturday morning, when I looked to see what racing I might be able to watch this weekend, I saw that the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 is on SpeedTV. Okay, seriously? Wow. Not even the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief Martinsville 500. At least when someone at work asks me what I did over the weekend, I can say, “I watched the Australian Grand Prix.” If I were a NASCAR fan and was asked what I did during this past weekend, I think I would say something like, “Oh, I watched the, uh, NASCAR race in Martinsville.”
5. F1 Reporting Interests Me, Part 3: Objectivity
[Regarding an Autosport.com article about Pat Symonds' employment by Virgin, in a lengthy comparison of that article with articles on other sites.]
Again, someone who knew nothing about the details of the [Crashgate] controversy might be unsure of the extant of Symonds’ role in it, if all they had to read was this article. He left in the wake of something! He has an agreement with the FIA about stuff! What led to this state of affairs? Who knows? Could be almost anything! It coincided with all that Crashgate unpleasantness, but that’s the extent of what is described explicitly.
Are there any other notable aspects of this article? How about the use — not once, not twice, but three times — of the phrase “help[ing] out” to describe what Symonds is doing for F1 teams through his consultancy work? Why, that’s mighty kind of him to go helping folks out, isn’t it? He could have simply chosen to continue with the “numerous other engineering and motorsport projects” — and speaking engagements, like at Autosport International — that have been keeping him busy since he left F1, but now he is going to be so good as to “help out” a current team. This, to me, seemed a strange choice of words. However, a search for the phrase in the Autosport archives reveals 121 instances of it, so I conclude that it might be a house style–based decision.
Well, it feels good to get those off my chest! And if you’ve actually made it this far, thanks for reading. I’m not sure what’s going to end up happening with this blog. There are other things I ought to be spending my time writing, and there really isn’t much of a niche for F1 fan blogs out there, anyway, what with all the actual F1 journalists and other insiders writing their own. Still, every once in a while, I’ll probably feel the need to get something else off my chest. I think I’ll try not to let it languish in my Drafts folder quite so long in the future…