Earlier this week, Daytona International Speedway announced that WWE star John Cena will serve as Grand Marshall for this month’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500. The track has also enlisted the co-stars of the new movie “The Three Stooges” to take part in pre-race activities at the “Great American Race.”
|Lighten up, OR ELSE!!|
Those announcements drew howls of disdain from some corners of NASCAR Nation, with fans questioning why the sport’s most prestigious event would associate itself with professional wrestling and Stooge-style slapstick.
“Wrestling and the Three Stooges,” wrote one internet commentator. “Who says you can't stereotype NASCAR?”
“(NASCAR is) sure going out of their way to lend credence to those that say we've morphed into the WWE,” wrote another.
Another writer asked, “How do I defend our sport from people who think it’s rigged, when we’ve got a professional wrestler waving the green flag?”
The answer to that question is simple. You don’t.
There is no need to respond to those who accuse our sport of being fixed. We’ve done quite nicely without them for the last six decades, and we’ll do fine without them in the future. The Grassy Knoll theorists and Black Helicopter pilots aren’t needed here, and attempting to dissuade them from their lunatic views is a waste of our time, and theirs.
|"Why I oughta..."|
John Cena was invited to participate in this year’s Daytona 500 because he is one of the most popular and recognizable athletes in sports entertainment today. His invitation, delivered live on WWE's “Monday Night Raw” in front of approximately 4.6 million viewers, gave the Daytona 500 a major media “pop” that is still being talked about today. In return, the WWE will receive valuable cross-promotion for WrestleMania XVIII on April 1 in Miami, when Cena faces “The Rock” for the WWE Championship.
In addition to being one of wrestling’s top stars, Cena is also the No. 1 contributor in the history of the Make-A-Wish program, having granted more than 250 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. That makes him a pretty good guy in my book, whether or not you’re a fan of professional wrestling.
NASCAR fans defy all attempts at stereotyping. Some of us enjoy classical music and a trip to the art gallery. Others prefer a deftly delivered dropkick off the top rope. Still others revel in a hearty “nyuk-nyuk-nyuk” and a double-digit poke in the eyes. There’s no reason for NASCAR fans to look down their noses at the WWE, or anyone else. There’s also no reason to lose any further sleep over what non-NASCAR fans think of us, or our sport.
We don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea.