June 5, 2012
By Doug Demmons
Maybe Karl Marx should have been in charge of NASCAR.
Marx didn’t get too much right back in his century, but he was famous for at least one saying that would apply well to NASCAR in this century.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It means those who have give to those who don’t. Sounds great on paper. Put it into practice in society in general and you end up with the Soviet Union.
But there is one place the concept works well -- professional sports.
Yes, Marxism runs rampant in Major League Baseball and the NFL. In fact, the NFL wouldn’t be anywhere close to the 800-pound gorilla of TV sports it is today if not for a healthy dollop of good ole fashioned communist dogma.
The NFL and baseball figured out a long time ago that if they let their wealthiest team owners run amok, they would buy up all the best players. But isn’t that just standard capitalist theory at work, letting the market dictate?
Indeed it is. But market economics would just end up costing everybody money and wreck the sport.
If a handful of NFL teams with billionaire owners were allowed to spend as much money as they wanted on free agents and to sign anybody they like among the nation’s college and high school players, they would dominate the league year after year.
Teams with less wealthy owners would not be able to compete. They would constantly be losing their best players. They would never have a chance to win. Fans would quickly stop buying tickets because no one wants to support a perennial loser.
Eventually, the league would dwindle as some teams fold. The wealthy teams would suffer without other teams capable of giving them competition. So, for the good of the entire league, the wealthy owners have to be restrained from buying up everything.
The NFL doesn’t call it Marxism -- probably because it makes everybody richer. They call it parity instead.
NASCAR could use some Marxism ... er, parity.
A good place to start would be in testing. NASCAR is considering loosening its ban on testing at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. The ban was imposed to try to save money for teams, which is actually sort of a Marxist concept.
But it hasn’t really worked. The richer teams just test at non-sanctioned tracks and spend gobs of money on fancy computer simulations of sanctioned tracks.
And since Goodyear still holds tire tests on a regular basis, the teams that are invited to participate often get a competitive edge at that track.
So NASCAR is considering holding several sanctioned tests throughout the year, which is a great idea. But they should take it a step further to enhance something that is sorely in need of enhancement in NASCAR -- parity.
Tax the rich and give to the poor. Make the three- and four-car teams pay a luxury tax to participate and use the money to fund the expenses of the struggling smaller teams that might not get to participate if they have to pay hotel bills for crew members.
Teams that start and park more than half the time would be excluded. This is Marxism but it isn’t welfare.
Smaller teams get better. The competition level increases. The racing improves. Fans of the smaller teams notice and start buying more tickets and watching on TV. Everybody makes more money.
Doug Demmons is a writer and editor for the Birmingham News ~ he writes daily and weekly auto racing columns ranging from NASCAR to open wheel to Formula One, local tracks and more... you can read Doug's columns online at ALABAMA MOTORSPORTS
Follow Doug on Twitter: @dougdemmons
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.