Dirt Racing or Free Speech
If you’re a fan of dirt racing and follow social media, you’ve seen it. Your favorite driver shares his viewpoint on something and sets off a war of opinions. Some tracks and even sanctioning bodies have adopted policies prohibiting negative comments on social media. Even going as far as assessing penalties to teams for comments their crew members make. IMCA’s new policy is just one example:
Unsportsmanlike conduct or participating in any action or activity deemed detrimental to IMCA or an IMCA track at any sanctioned event or on social media by drivers, car owners and/or pit crews will be grounds for disqualification and/or punitive action by IMCA.
Typically, the announcement of policies of this nature includes commentary on how negative statements on social media are bad for the sport. At face value that seems to make sense to me. I mean who wants to spend money and time to go to an event that you’ve heard your friend’s bad mouthing for days? Not me.
But wait a minute… what if, and this is a big stretch, but what if the negative comments are true? Let’s assume just for the purpose of this “rant” that the comments being made are not the rantings of a disgruntled dirt racing driver who just got dq’ed, but rather, factual statements being expressed in a calm clear manner. For me, this brings up two very important questions.
Can they really do that?
I mean, we live in America. The land of the free. The home of the brave. Does your local racetrack really have the right to control what you, as a patron think or say? Apparently, they believe they do, or policies like this would not exist. However, according to the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016, they do not have the right to stifle your speech. Again, I want to stress that this only applies to non-slanderous or non-libelous statements. So if you’re wanting to call someone names on social media, please don’t quote me while doing it. This brings me to my actual question. I know, get to the point right.
Is detrimental conduct the answer?
I am passionate about racing, I always have been. I want to see this sport grow and improve. In my opinion, the route to growth includes both good and bad feedback. After all, how do you know you are doing something wrong or right if you never listen to anyone else’s opinions. A great business uses feedback to improve their product and like it or not, racing is a business. If we do not constantly strive to meet the expectations of our patrons, we will fail. That’s how business works. So for whatever my humble opinion is worth; by all means keep on pointing out what is wrong with our sport. It may just help keep it alive for future generations.