Here is a textbook case that demonstrates the ridiculousness of interaction with others on the Internet and one reason why the management of almost any organization tends to dismiss anything anyone ever has to say in such public forums. Interaction nearly always degenerates into something completely far-fetched and usually way off topic.
A few days ago someone on the Internet had the genesis of a good idea. A.J. Foyt, potentially the most legendary person in motorsports living or dead, had just turned eighty years old. In addition to being a racing hero he is also as American as they get, and is someone to which the vast majority of the average American population can relate. Sure he has always been rough around the edges but that is precisely why most people love the guy. Even people who have been on the receiving end of the rough edges love the guy.
AJ is also a person who has always done great things for other people but has never made any sort of big deal about it. He prefers to keep his soft side hidden. It is only natural that given such longevity, societal contributions and unique American-ness that sooner or later someone would suggest his name as a valid candidate for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Richard Petty already has one but even he cannot match AJ’s diversity.
It is a fabulous idea for certain. The problem is 100,000 people have to sign a petition in a short amount of time and less than 10% of the required number actually have. IndyCar and its heroes do not mean what they once did in the rough and tumble days of the 60s and 70s. Still it is a very nice thought.
This is the point at which ridiculous begins to set in. The entire Internet space contains anonymous people whose entire point of being is to disagree with anything anyone else has to say regardless of topic. It is not possible to express any opinion anywhere without being infested by the pollution of at least one (and usually a few more) of these idiots, most of whom lack even basic spelling or grammar skills. Three hot topics for such cyber-graffiti include politics, religion and race. In most cases smart folks do not engage the mentally challenged and instead seek out conversation with other adults. Unfortunately motor racing has a fairly acute problem with such hooligans and it is not possible to intelligently discuss virtually any topic anywhere other than in person that does not get bogged down in petty nonsense. Take Trackforum, for example. It was once a place where actual fans could converse in relatively civil fashion. Today, however, almost everyone who ever possessed any intellect has vanished primarily because almost every sub-forum has been co-opted by vandals. The joke that passes for moderation is as dishonest and creepy as the squatters who now inhabit and shout down almost any/every otherwise tactful contributor. Worse, the proprietors of these devolved forums seem too dumb to do anything about it. They are by no means alone.
The mischief makers all follow the same pattern. It is for the most part aggressively defensive and usually occurs when they perceive the slightest whiff of negativity about their favorite thing, be it cart or NASCAR or whatever. The same group of interlopers also tend to proactively slam anything even remotely connected to IndyCar for little apparent reason. They are like jihadists in that they pervert an otherwise pure ideal, commit really stupid acts as a result of their own collective mental illness and in the end a handful of idiots ruin it for almost everyone else.
Back to the purity of the campaign to get A.J. Foyt a Presidential Medal of Freedom nomination. Within minutes of this campaign gaining social media attention someone on the Internet decided Mario Andretti deserved one either in addition to or instead of Foyt. It was not long before the squatters determined Dan Gurney should get one. Is it any wonder the entire sport is screwed up or that management of it completely dismisses what people who call themselves fans spout?
It is not that Mario or Gurney may be undeserving but from a realistic standpoint they are going to need to stand in line, particularly when we are referring to something this uniquely American. A.J. casts a really long shadow over everyone else. Sure Mario is often compared in terms of versatility to A.J. and is a world champion. He also was born in what is now Croatia and did not become an American citizen until A.J. won his second Indianapolis 500. And Gurney? Seriously? He has no Indianapolis 500 wins. No major championships. He built cars and ran a team for a while (something Mario has never done). Many point to him as the impetus of the actual ‘split.’
Why would racing fans not unite behind A.J. Foyt? It is a logical choice for a living legend. Forget Mario and Gurney and whoever else gets offered up for now and focus on something worthwhile. Find unity for a change and sign the petition.
Like that would ever happen.