By: Ryan Hyatt, Special contributor
It's time to sound-off with what I know is an unpopular opinion.
I love NASCAR.
I love America more.
More specifically, I love our fighting men and women more.
That's exactly why I say it is absolutely the right call for the military to pull any and all sponsorship out of NASCAR, including the National Guard leaving NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports. It's the right call and it is entirely NASCAR's fault.
Don't blame politicians, don't blame your least favorite congressperson or the Commander in Chief. It isn't their fault, it is NASCAR's. The bottom line is that NASCAR isn't delivering the demographic that the military needs right now to justify spending millions of dollars to be on the hood of a car. Even if it is Dale Jr.'s car. The military can't afford feel-good PR moves right now. The military needs a return-on-investment and NASCAR isn't giving them that right now when it comes to males 18-25 years old.
As reported here at Motorsport.com the last few weeks and even years, TV ratings are down for NASCAR and the reach is even worse when it comes to younger male demos. That's exactly who the military needs. NASCAR isn't giving it to them. There is no reason the military owes it to NASCAR to stick around anymore than any other sponsor. In fact, the relationship should be the other way around. We'll explain later....
It's not you, it's us
For now, fans of NASCAR, the sport itself, Brian France, Darrell Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, hell, anyone else who cares about the sport needs to ask why this is happening and how to answer this wake-up call. It isn't enough for NASCAR to bring Vets to the track to have military bands do the National Anthem and to have wicked-cool fly-overs. If you want the military to spend money they really don't have right now (we can debate those reasons another time in another place), then you have to deliver more than NASCAR is doing when it comes to eye-balls on the TV set and butts in the seats. The military demands results those in uniform. It sure as hell deserves that and more from those it pays millions to to allegedly "serve" it.
If you really love the armed services NASCAR, you can't expect to be excluded.
What this is, is a great chance for NASCAR, the race teams (RTA anyone?), the drivers and the fans to really show how much they love the military and not when they are getting a check to say so. NASCAR can now say, we don't want your money, we want you to have a slice of ours and we'll do what we can from here to help any and all involved. NASCAR can tell the armed services we respect all you do and how you do it with less than you really need instead of holding a grudge because they "left the sport".
If you love NASCAR, don't be mad at the government or the military or some politician. If you love NASCAR figure, out a way to make the sport so great that they will have the ability to spend the money no questions asked. Right now, NASCAR failed the military, not the other way around.
But not nearly as harsh as trying to justify to a soldier why the government is spending money on a sport not showing a return to many sponsors right now when that soldier needs so much more, so much more than what we as American citizens give them.
Think about that this weekend then tell me again how it's wrong the military is leaving the sport we love.
My name's Ryan Hyatt and I'm on the radio. Catch us every Monday night at 7pm est. where Motorsport.com manager Nick DeGroot stops by to debate some of the hottest topics in the world of motorsports; click HERE to tune in.