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Entitled fans should check egos at the door

After Danica Patrick “laid into” a group of fans, so-to-speak, after those fans booed her when she didn’t stop on her way to debrief with her race team after practice to sign autographs for them, debates endured for days regarding who was in the wrong, whether or not drivers are obligated to give fans autographs anytime and anywhere said fans ask for them, whether or not signing autographs is a part of drivers’ jobs, etc.
I’ve put off writing about what went on with Danica and this “fan” for the last few days. But I’ve decided that, today, I’m going to add my two cents to this debate, even if I am a little late to the game.
As for Patrick’s actions, I think she should’ve just ignored the boos and went on her way. I think she’d be better served if she could take it in stride — develop a thicker skin, if you will. I understand she’s a person with feelings, paraphrasing what she said, but she’d be better off if she could, at least outwardly, put them on ignore and move on. Unfortunately, we live in a society these days in which so many people have an entitled attitude — thinking the world revolves around them and everyone else lives to serve them.
As for the fans in this altercation and the fans who think those fans’ behavior was acceptable and Danica “owed” them an autograph, here’s what I think.
Patrick and her fellow-drivers are at the track to do their job, and that is to drive their race cars to the best of their ability. Yes, signing autographs is a secondary, if that much, part of their job. It’s a part of their job at designated signings, appearances that are formatted as autograph sessions, etc. At the race track, their job is driving race cars and all the other stuff that entails — driver-team debriefs, practice, qualifying, etc. Not to mention, they have sponsor obligations, hospitality and other events at which they are scheduled to appear. Heck, that appointment they’re rushing off to for which you may be making them late may be one of those autograph sessions you could probably attend and get that coveted autograph.
What I’m getting at, here, is that drivers are busy during race weekends. The reason they may not have time to sign your hero card, shirt, cap, diecast, or whatever may be because they don’t have time right then. Sure, your one autograph would only take seconds, but is signing one autograph for one fan among a group of autograph seekers fair? No. And even if there’s not a crow around, one’s sure to gather as soon as a driver stops to sign an autograph.
Then, there’s the fan that thinks they, alone, are the sole reason said driver has sponsorship, allowing him or her the opportunity to drive that race car. Boy, you sure are giving yourself a lot of power, there, aren’t you? Believe it or not, some sponsors want to see results on the race track. Shocker, I know. Cutting into drivers’ time with their teams debriefing, etc., probably won’t improve their performance.
I don’t think fans go to NBA games, MLB games, NFL games, name your sport, expecting to get an autograph. My other sport of choice is basketball, so I’ll use it as an example, here. Imagine if players stopped to sign autographs for fans hanging over railings when players run out of the tunnel onto the court for warm-ups. Doesn’t happen, does it?
Why have some, not all but some, NASCAR fans developed such an entitled lot? I even saw one “fan” on social media claim that NASCAR was built on fan accessibility. Really?!? Didn’t the sport come before the fan? If the fans came first, what were they a fan of before the sport came along?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not downplaying the importance of fans, by any means. They’re needed for the sport to continue, grow and thrive. But they need to use a little common sense. Many of these fans seem to love griping about how the sport sucks now and improvements need to be made. How much better do they think the sport is going to get if they interfere in the competitors’ tasks relating to getting their job, “racing,” done?
When did the autograph get more important than the racing? After all, Patrick’s heckling came as she was en route to a debrief with her team after practice. Shouldn’t that have been a higher priority for her? I think so.
And here’s some food for thought.
I’m guessing you have a job. How well do you think you’d be able to do that job if you were being interrupted from that job about every minute or so by someone asking you to sign your John Hancock to something?
Here’s another scenario.
It’s the evning or weekend; pick some time you’re usually not working. You’re out with your family at your favorite restaurant, your kid’s soccer game, whatever, and your boss shows up wanting you to drop everything and do some work right then and there. You wouldn’t like it, would you?
From my experience, at least most drivers are happy to sign autographs when and where they can, but if it interferes with competition efforts, autograph seekers should step aside.
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Posted by on June 14, 2017. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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