Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beware of reporters with "interesting" tidings.

Ok, Tony Stewart will buy out Gene Haas, and will work closely with Hendrick to get the team up to speed. Ok, Mark Martin is leaving DEI and will run in the 5 car, possibly with or without Brad Keselowski. Ok, Martin Truex Jr. will leave DEI and possibly drive the 5 car or the new 33 of Richard Childress. Ok, Casey Mears will be looking for a new ride. Ok, Jeff Gordon just had NASA agree to a contract to paint a huge 24 on the full moon.

Ok, maybe that last scenario was a little too crazy for anyone to believe, but we are all currently enduring the usual silly season rumors, and I caution all fans of any driver to wait until the ink is on the paper before celebrating, or having thoughts of suicide.

We see this every year. So-and-so's definitely going to this shop. This driver will be in this car with this sponsor. We see it every year. There's nothing new about it.

Already this year, we heard that Bobby Labonte's move to the new Richard Childress team was a done deal. All that needed doing was to make the announcement. Well, how did that turn out? Bobby Labonte recently announced a 4 year deal with Petty Enterprises. Where's that reporter that broke that story now? he's announcing some other 'done deal'.

The point here is this: Don't believe anything until the driver and the owner both announce it publicly. Last year, we heard that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going to Gibbs. We heard he was going to RCR. We heard that he was going to drive for his own team, JRM. We all heard those were 'done deals' from various sources. We also heard that he was driving the 8, or the 81, or the 3 and a few other numbers. None of us knew the details until Dale Jr., Kelley, and Mr. Hendrick himself sat on stage at JR Motorsports.

Sports reporting is competitive by nature, and some of the reporters could give the drivers a lesson in competitiveness. Every reporter in the business is eager to get the scoop, and who knows who their sources are, especially if the sources are only identified as 'undisclosed'?

I'm going to be quite frank with you. As a long time fan of this sport, I've read articles written by supposedly true Nascar 'Insiders' who have no business writing for this sport, or any other, as far as I'm concerned. Their only purpose is to break headlines, and in this new era of the Internet, to get hits on their websites. I have to admit, it's tempting to write puff pieces or hit pieces on this very blog, just to get hits. I don't advertise here, so that does me little in the way of profit, so I don't do it. This blog let's me speak my mind, to have a somewhat collective conversation with those of you who take the time to read what I write. I do not make one single cent from doing this, so even though I will be honest and admit that I do like the hits, it's for my own enjoyment as a writer. This blog will never pay the light bill or buy me a new car. I mostly love reading the stats and seeing what kind of audience I've got.

But then again, I'm not a reporter. I post opinion pieces here. I've got opinions about a sport I've loved for so long, and sometimes those opinions change. I may repeat a recently reported rumor, but I'm only going to offer an opinion on that, not state whether it is true or not. Nascar does not include me in their discussions. Neither do the teams. I've been lucky enough to correspond via e-mail with a couple of drivers, who shall remain nameless, but they don't tell me anything that you don't already know. I'm not in the inner circle of this sport. I'm just a fan, just like you.

I would encourage everyone that reads this blog, or any other blog, or any websites devoted to Nascar, or even politics or whatever, for that matter, to check out the facts before you believe anything. There is an old saying, and it's true for many sites, because they are often right on the money in their predictions. That saying is "Trust, but verify." The next time you read a report on the AP or even the Mothership of all sports, ESPN, think about that. You may trust, but verify before you believe it. Reporters make mistakes, sometimes honest ones, such as getting the wrong impression from what a driver or team owner or crew member says. If a reporter is called for the mistake, he or she should acknowledge it, and admit they made a mistake, in my opinion. Whenever I see or hear a reporter doing that, they pick up a few notches in admiration on my scale. We all make mistakes, and if you can admit to your mistakes, it only makes you a better reporter, and indeed, a better person. Learn from those mistakes, and don't repeat them, and you will be a great reporter, and indeed, a better person.

Every year I've seen some of the same people tell me that a certain scenario is indeed a 'done deal', and it turns out not to be true. To these people, all I can say is "Don't make my boots wet and tell me it's raining." There are a few reporters out there that make wild claims every year, and virtually none of them come true, yet they just move on and keep writing, or talking, and they never take responsibility for their mistakes. I won't name names, but you know who they are. It's the same pretty much every year. The names might change, but the motives don't.

There's another old adage that goes like this: "Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers." That old saying could easily be applied to today's Internet world, especially when it involves Nascar's silly season.

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