Sociologists credit sport as it teaches values like hard work, competition, success, and leadership. It is a social institution promoting societal core values. One such sport is NASCAR, and here, we look at sociology making NASCAR one of America’s fastest growing kinds of sport.
History of NASCAR
Following the end of World War II, Bill France, in December 1947, organized a meeting to address stock car racing problems. With his strong will and ambition, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was born. NASCAR sanctioned its first race in Daytona Beach on February 15, 1948. In 1949, the premier racing series in America was born. This led to the introductions of super speed ways.
The media got involved in the races when in 1961 ABC televised the firecracker 250 event from Daytona Beach. Corporate sponsorship of NASCAR events started in 1971 with the Tobacco Company R.J. Reynolds. NASCAR lifestyle became national phenomena with coverage from the sports illustrated and cover stories in Forbes. In 1995, NASCAR launched its official website (www.NASCAR.com). Since then, NASCAR has been branching and establishing many race circuits all over the states. In November 2000, the leadership of NASCAR changed hands for the first time from France to now the third president Mike Helton. In 2001, Fox aired its first NASCAR Daytona event.
In 2010, in Charlotte, North Carolina, NASCAR opened their hall of fame. NASCAR develops from year to year commanding more and more sponsors, media events, players, and record crowds to date.
Sociodemographic description of fans and players
Spectating sports is a predominant form of leisure in today’s world (James, 2001). NASCAR offers a family event hence allows fan participation of all ages. Sex, gender, and sexuality are not an issue with NASCAR fans and players. Research shows the increase in female fans (Weissman,1999), homosexual fans and fans of minority races (Howard, 2001). Statistically, 40% of NASCAR fans are female. Research also shows fans with higher income and higher educational levels (Dunnavant, 2001). Qualified drivers, male or female, are eligible to participate.
NASCAR is a professional sport with championship circuits held throughout the year. Icon champions include Anthony Wayne Stewart, the only driver to win three categories of NASCAR events. Lucrative deals, endorsements, and advertisements have been offered to winners from the NASCAR body itself and from the many sponsors of the sport. Business week named seven NASCAR drivers in a list of America’s 100 most powerful athletes.
NASCAR and contemporary American life
All the aspects of contemporary American lifestyle are fulfilled through NASCAR events, be it the competitiveness, thrills, risk taking and sensation-seeking. There is a need for group affiliations (Mullin, Hardy and Sutton, 2000). Hardly anyone attends sports events alone. Businesses have also benefited selling NASCAR merchandise like jerseys and bubble heads.
Media franchises such as Fox, Sports Illustrated, and ABC have capitalized on the game. ESPN has blanket coverage of NASCAR events in Daytona Speedways. These franchises offer a lot of money to NASCAR for TV rights, thus influencing scheduling of events. Fans’ experience is compounded through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where there is a NASCAR online community. Fans worldwide are also able to view NASCAR events on these media franchises hence increasing the sports outreach.
NASCAR represents the American society in the various aspects. Professional sports are businesses, they represent many jobs created in the tracks, drivers, endorsement deals, media rights, and television. It also brings the society together in uniting people behind a common ideology. Millions follow the sport bringing about a sense of belonging in group affiliations (Mullin, Hardy and Sutton, 2000).