by Julian Spivey
As the second week of the 2022 FIFA World Cup gets underway I think I’ve lost count of all of the articles and statements I’ve seen online encouraging people not to watch the World Cup due to the host country Qatar’s horrible stance on human rights, especially gay rights and migrant worker rights, or in some cases because of FIFA’s corruptness. The whole reason the games are being played in Qatar is that former leaders of FIFA GOT PAID.
I get this sentiment. The World Cup being in a country where homosexuality is illegal and imprisonable is disgusting. The World Cup being held in a country where more than 6,500 migrant workers have died since the games were awarded to Qatar in 2010, according to a The Guardian analysis, is disgusting. FIFA leaders being bribed to hold the games in Qatar is disgusting. The current FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s speech on the eve of the World Cup where he compared critics of the World Cup being held in Qatar to feelings of discrimination of gays, blacks, Middle Easterners, disabled and migrant workers was disgusting. The powers that be keeping everybody from fans to media to the athletes from being able to protest the many things worth protesting in Qatar and around the world at the games is disgusting.
Everything about the World Cup being played in Qatar is disgusting.
Here’s the thing though … I understand all of that. But I can’t in good conscience tell people who love the sport of soccer (or football as people literally everywhere else call it) that they shouldn’t watch the game they love on its biggest stage.
I hope soccer fans understand the reasons why the event being played in Qatar is horrendous. I hope they take the time to reflect on how FIFA has turned their favorite sporting event into an embarrassment to many and how they are partaking in sportswashing. Though because the media outlet – Fox – carrying the event in the U.S. is taking a “stick to sports” and “everything in Qatar is fine” mentality (what would you really expect from a Rupert Murdoch-owned network) to covering the event some fans may not even realize what is happening or what has happened in the country.
I understand how it feels to love a sport(s) and be incredibly disappointed in those running the league or event. Just last year I watched and enjoyed many hours of the Beijing Summer Olympics despite knowing the country is at best interning millions of Uyghurs and at work committing genocide against them. Because of my privilege of being American, I can call out the atrocities being committed by China, while still rooting for my favorite American athletes in a multitude of sports, many of which I only get the chance to see every four years when the Olympics come around. I can curse the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for their choice of continuing to give countries like China and Russia Olympic games.
I’ve been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years and the sport is almost constantly doing things that make me roll my eyes and call out the powers that be from almost annually having races sponsored by the National Rife Association (NRA) to inviting the most hateful president in the history of the United States in Donald Trump to attend and grand marshal the Daytona 500, the sports biggest event.
I may despise the NRA and former President Trump, but I love racing.
Does it feel dirty to watch these events when you realize the evil behind them or allowed to attend or sponsor them? Yes, it does, for me at least. But I love competition. I realize some would call me a hypocrite for watching these events, despite hating the politics behind some of them. I feel as long as I’m calling out the atrocities I can give myself a pass for enjoying the on-the-field/court/track action.
by Julian Spivey
I still don’t know quite what to say because even four days later I’m still as flabbergasted and jaw-dropped as I was on the final lap of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 30.
What I do know is Ross Chastain pulled off the greatest pass in the history of NASCAR. If that’s too much for you then I’ll amend my statement to Ross Chastain pulled off the greatest pass in the 21 years I’ve been a fan of NASCAR.
You really just have to watch this for yourself and keep in mind it hasn’t been sped up. This is his move in real time.
With the way the NASCAR playoff system works the penultimate race of the season, which was in Martinsville on Sunday, cuts the playoff driver field from eight to four drivers. The top four drivers in points (or via wins in the playoff round) move on to compete for the championship at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, November 6.
When Chastain began the final lap of the race at Martinsville he needed to pass two drivers to overtake Denny Hamlin, his fiercest rival this season, in the playoff point standings to qualify for the championship race. The problem was he was well behind the two cars he needed to pass. It was going to take a miracle for him to make the championship four.
So, remembering past (failed) moves that certain drivers have made in years prior and a move his brother Chad had put on him on the GameCube gaming system as young boys playing “NASCAR 2005.” Chastain realized his one chance was to gas it up, grab fifth gear and throw his car into the outside wall where he could just ride the outside wall without braking. Chastain would effectively have to wreck his car to have any chance at passing cars. This takes massive courage or a few screws loose in the noggin or both. When the move was all said and done Chastain not only had passed two cars but moved from 10th position all the way to fifth place, even passing Hamlin for the fifth spot. He also compiled the fastest lap in both Martinsville and NASCAR history at 18.845 seconds.
The announcers broadcasting the race for NBC Sports couldn’t believe what they had just seen, fans in the stands couldn’t believe what they had just seen, and many of the drivers watching him swoop past him on track couldn’t believe what they had just seen and my wife and I watching from our living room, on our feet whooping and hollering at the television screen damn sure couldn’t believe what we had just seen.
Chastain had just made the greatest pass(es) in NASCAR history. It was the single greatest on-track thing I’d ever seen in 21 years of watching NASCAR and it wasn’t even for a win, but for fifth place and a spot in the championship race where he will compete against Christopher Bell (who had to win Martinsville just to qualify – quite the story in its own right), Chase Elliott and Joey Logano for the title.
Despite it being the greatest and certainly the coolest and most badass thing I’d ever seen in more than two decades as a NASCAR fan this is NASCAR – meaning nothing can go without some people bitching about it. It started with the reigning champion of the sport Kyle Larson telling a reporter on pit road he thought the move was “embarrassing for the sport,” even though he was the most recent driver to attempt a similar move (in failing fashion) at Darlington last season. Other drivers and many fans complained about the “video game” move being against some sort of code of competition, despite the fact Chastain broke zero rules in doing what he did.
Can’t we just let epic be epic for once?
Chastain’s move is one we’re going to be seeing in advertisements for the sport for years to come.