Earlier this week, Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com posted a story in which Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin asserted his belief that competitors in his sport should be making more money. As a matter of fact, the Virginia native declared that racers should be getting contracts on par with those handed out in the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball.
Hamlin argued that because NASCAR drivers incur significant risks in what they do, they should be more heavily compensated. According to the article, the 2016 Daytona 500 winner believes that their seven digit contracts fail to matchup with the eight and nine digit contract values for stars of other sports such as LeBron James(Cavaliers), Matthew Stafford(Lions) and Clayton Kershaw(Dodgers).
As a Psychology teacher at Seymour(TN) High School, I teach my students about the difference between a sensation and a perception. A sensation is simply information taken in by the five senses while a perception is the meaning attached to that information which can be influenced by the recipient’s past experiences, mood and attitude.
While Hamlin’s message may have had some degree of merit, particularly for drivers who do not regularly race at the front of the pack, it will always be perceived as nothing more than a rich guy complaining that he is not rich enough. That became even more true when photos of the driver’s lavish home, private jet and personal basketball court began to be floated around the various social networking sites.
NASCAR is in the midst of a major transition period as some of the biggest stars and most popular drivers in the history of the sport are stepping away and are being replaced by young drivers who may very well have considerable talent but have no real achievements attached to their names. It’s also a time in which attendance and television ratings are experiencing dramatic downturns while sponsors scale back their involvement in the sport.
This is hardly the time for a race car driver whose material possessions far exceed anything the “average” person could ever imagine to be making the statement that the select few who participate in a profession that most would consider a dream job do not make enough money. NASCAR doesn’t really need that type of publicity at this time.
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