Autism Watch: 2007

Nascar and Charities

Posted on: June 1, 2009

Yep, two posts in a row. Unheard of!

We are huge Nascar fans. Huge. I think I’ve shared before how it’s a family interest, with everyone having a driver and getting into it on their own level. Ds doesn’t do well for long — too loud, even with headphones — so we only take him to qualifying when it’s local, but he will watch here and there at home, cheering for Jeff Gordon. (I know, I know, we are not Gordon fans, we are Jamie McMurray fans, all the way down to the custom-made gold crown belly ring with amethyst tips that I wear. Yes, fanatics.) We were excited to see that another race was sponsored by AutismSpeaks, held in Dover, DE yesterday. I am not a fan of AS, I’ll be clear — the only time I ever hear/heard from them was to ask me for help or donations, but I am all for public awareness if it’s done properly.

Yesterday’s race broadcast missed that boat by a long shot.

When it was breast cancer awareness month, everyone wore pink ribbons and talked about breast cancer, early detection, and its impact on lives. I am not trying to demean that in any way, I want to be clear about that, too. (I recently got another mammogram, women everywhere need to be checking themselves.) But, the difference between Nascar/Fox’s broadcast during that time and the AutismSpeaks 400 is so vast, I can’t even put it into words.

During the AutismSpeaks 400, I never heard one.single.word. about autism. Not one explanation of what it is, how to detect it, how to treat it, or its devastation on families. Several Nascar drivers have family members with autism, yet they weren’t interviewed, nor were they mentioned, or their work towards the cause.

To be fair, they did discuss the golf tournament held last week, in which autism was the charity. It got about a minute of airtime pre-race, but also really didn’t talk much about autism, briefly showing some autistic children smiling during a photo-opp with the Nascar celebs. (I did have to wonder when someone said they were so glad to participate in raising money so the kids could get help. In what way does AS give back to the actual kids with autism? I have yet to see it. I hear only about research and their $1,000,000-per-year apartment in Manhattan.)

To make matters worse, the three Fox commentators still wore breast cancer awareness pins. No autism pins. They even ran a Komen commercial. No autism commercial. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against breast cancer awareness by any means, but what does it take to get some autism awareness during a race sponsored by AutismSpeaks? What was the point of having the sponsorship if no education/awareness occurred? We saw blue puzzle pieces everywhere, but those stand for AutismSpeaks, not autism. The puzzle piece ribbon stands for autism, so were we getting excited to see the AS logo, or for autism help itself? Really confusing.

Kudos to Rutledge and Krista Voda, who both wore puzzle-piece ribbons and pins. It was at least something. But otherwise, Fox let us down in a big way with its poor broadcast. And then there’s Jeff Gordon, who was briefly interviewed pre-race, who had to interject that he had a foundation, too, that was collecting money for kids, “but we’re dealing with kids with life-threatening illnesses.” Wow. So autism isn’t life-threatening, so it gets the “but…” statement. So many things I could say, but I won’t. I’m sure he didn’t mean to sound so, uhm, rude, callous and cold, but he did.

I’ll still be back watching Nascar next weekend, I don’t hold the sport responsible for bad broadcasting by Fox, but I do hope that next year, when this time comes around again, things are different. It also greatly helps that Fox is done broadcasting Nascar for the season, and coverage switches stations. (Phew. It can’t come too soon. DW was about to drive me crazy.) Nascar is one of the most charitable sports out there, with its drivers being amazingly giving. The broadcast network needs to keep up and do its part, too.

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2 Responses to "Nascar and Charities"

I am sorry to hear you are Jamie McMurray fans, but I do hear you about all the charities and lack there of mentions at the AutismSpeaks 400.

Since I am a BIG FAN of Jeff, people should know that Jeff is a BIG supporter of charities, especially for supporting the fight against pediatric cancer. You can help buy purchasing a collectible Ice Cream Tin from Schwans http://www.schwans.com/jeffgordon

Good Luck with spreading the word on Autism as well as with your racer, Jamie McMurray.

The FOX broadcast as always was done well as Mike Joy Larry Mac and DW know how to call a race to even get a casual observer hooked unlike ESPN/ABC or TNT

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