Is NASCAR Considered A Sport?
As a technicality, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is an organization and perhaps not in and of itself a sport. However, NASCAR falls under the sports category of auto racing. This includes other forms of the sport like formula racing, drag racing, off-road racing and many more. There is dispute that NASCAR is or is not a sport, but the safest end to the discussion is that NASCAR is a type of auto racing, which is very much in fact a sport. Here are some convincing arguments supporting auto racing's (so NASCAR indirectly) identity as a sport.
A common defining characteristic of a sport is its competitive aspects. It is hard to call a game a sport if there is no sense of competition. In this area, NASCAR comes nowhere near shy of a strong competitive event. Long races featuring hundreds of laps around a track can end with photo finishes just milliseconds apart. NASCAR drivers must learn to strategize and adapt under difficult racing conditions, and must master composure to maintain a competitive edge. Winning a NASCAR race is certainly not easy, as just two drivers have ever boasted a career record total of over 100 wins.
Many sporting critics like to make the argument that a sport must have a physical attribute, often contact or face-to-face competition. While NASCAR does not involve racers being directly face-to-face, the only thing between them are the outside of their vehicles, moving up to 200 mph at any given instant during a race. Upon a closer look, NASCAR drivers actually have a very physical experience throughout a race, as they must concentrate in a very hot environment, harnessing extraordinary reflexes while driving inches away from other high-speed vehicles. In these high pressure situations, NASCAR drivers must focus their minds on the race at hand while dealing with the multitude of physical challenges that are presented throughout any race.
Established Rule Set
When defining a sport, it is important that there is an established set of rules that are maintained on a regional, national, or international level. While rules can fluctuate slightly to accommodate various situations, there must be a base framework of rules within a sport that are recognized by all. In NASCAR, this does exist, and there are specific rules and regulations that are required to be upheld in official competitions.
NASCAR, like most other well-known sports, involves a great deal of teamwork during any given race day. In fact, a road crew can feature up to 12 members, while 5 are allowed to make up a pit crew. The pit crew have direct physical involvement with the driver and his or her car, and it is vital that the group has a strong bond and chemistry between team members. The teamwork aspect of a NASCAR race is crucial for having quick stops, which can make the difference in such a long-winded race.
While sports present a unique environment of competition between athletes, they also play a great role in providing entertainment for action-seeking fans. Sports provide a platform for the best and most talented athletes from around the world to display their unique skill sets to avid fans from around the globe. NASCAR checks this box off with ease, as the Daytona 500 (one of many seasonal NASCAR races) logged over 9 million viewers in the US alone in 2019. It is important to note that various sports tend to develop their own fanbase, and NASCAR has certainly amassed a strong fan base in the US and even found hubs in places around the world.
One more sport-defining aspect that is relevant for NASCAR is the unifying quality among a diverse American and international population. While it doesn't have the most diverse fan group, NASCAR still provides a haven for fans of all ethnicities and locations to come together in support of their favorite driver or simply enjoy the craze that a race presents. In fact, as of 2020, 25% of NASCAR fans identify as multicultural. It is this unifying bond shared by fans and fanatics of all sports that allows for sports to thrive throughout nearly any situation. Sports have the opportunity to bring people together, especially during difficult times shared by all; and NASCAR, as a branch of auto-racing, possesses and thrives upon this powerful quality of unification.