Tony Stewart’s back injury/ies from his ATV accident on Sunday that became publicly known on Tuesday has reignited a NASCAR debate that comes up every now and again. And unfortunately for Stewart, accidents involving him keep bringing up the debate on whether or not extracurricular activities of drivers should have their limits.
In the 24+ hours since reports first came out regarding Stewart’s latest accident, I’ve heard and read a large range of arguments from fans and talk radio hosts that run the gamut from drivers should be allowed to do whatever they want in their free time because it’s their like and they shouldn’t be put in a bubble to these guys have a responsibility to their teams’ employees and sponsors.
I have mixed feelings about it, and I really don’t care that I can’t come up with an opinion that falls 100 percent on one side or the other. Because when it really boils down to it, this is a matter between said driver and said car owner and/or sponsor. It’s something to be hashed out between driver and car owner and/or sponsor when contracts are negotiated. Owners and/or sponsors have every right to stipulate that their drivers refrain from participation in certain activities perceived as dangerous, be that extracurricular racing or some other activity. Meanwhile, drivers have the option to not sign contracts that contain such stipulations. So, I guess I’m saying that this is something that should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Some owners/sponsors are willing to take a chance on drivers who maybe wouldn’t sign under such stipulations, just to get said drivers on their teams. And that’s their choice, just as it’s the choice of owners/sponsors to make such demands.
One thing I will put out there, though: refraining from extra racing and/or other “dangerous” activities may not keep these drivers safe. Case in point — remember when Carl Edwards broke his foot in a freak Frisbee accident several years ago? More recently, Denny Hamlin has blown out ACLs in both knees and required surgeries in two separate basketball incidents. In the more distant past, drivers have suffered injuries participating in dangerous activities such as gardening. Just saying.
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