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Even Bill Maher Has An Opinion On Why NASCAR Ratings Are Down

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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As ratings continue to fall off in NASCAR, Bill Maher has his own theories as to why sports are still as popular as they are: it's the lack of nepotism...but does the argument really extend to NASCAR?

What’s Happening?

Controversial Comedian Bill Maher even has an opinion on why NASCAR ratings are down when compared to other sports. It all has to do with the nepotism.

In this rant below, Maher goes off on “nepo babies” and “legacy admissions” to colleges while also praising the world of sports for its lack of nepotism. It’s an issue very common in the entertainment industry. The sons and daughters of famous actors or actresses are often handed roles based on who their parents are or were and the problem has even found its way to the public (and private) education system(s), even though both should be strictly merit based.

The one area where ratings seem to be consistently better than any other form of entertainment seems to be sports. Could that be because of the lack of nepotism? Perhaps. But one sport that is not and probably never will be the exception when it comes to nepotism is NASCAR.

You Need To Know:

  • NASCAR has long taken pride in the fact that it is a family sport. Many drivers are multigenerational drivers. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver from 2003 through his retirement in 2017, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was a third-generation driver. Current reigning NASCAR MPD for the last 5 years and running, Chase Elliott, is a second-generation driver. Elliott practically inherited his massive fan base from his father, Bill, who holds a record 16 MPD awards. Add into the mix the Pettys, the Allions, the Labontes, the Burtons and, now, the Gibbs’ and its not hard to come to the conclusion that nepotism has played a key role in the sport for many years.
  • Nepotism is an issue that plagues the world, especially in Maher’s world of Hollywood. And while it typically isn’t a factor in other sports, it certainly seems to affect NASCAR in significant ways. Not to take anything from Kyle Petty’s 8 career wins but do you really think he would have gotten the same opportunities if his last name wasn’t “Petty”? At least he tried to make it on his own before returning to his father’s team following the death of his son, Adam, in 2000. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was employed by his father starting in 1998 following a rather mediocre late model career. Now, he turned out to be a pretty good and hall-of-fame worthy driver (yes, he is a HOF-level driver and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise) but his start was all because of his father. Michael Waltrip can credit his success to his brother in a lot of ways. Heck, most recently, two-time Cup Series Champion, Kyle Busch, got booted from JGR, a previously struggling team where he raced for 15-years in favor of the boss’s grandson. If that doesn’t scream nepotism, I don’t know what does!
  • Fans seem to be very aware of this issue, some even noting that it isn’t going to stop anytime soon with now many drivers are having kids who are following in daddy’s footsteps.

In The Stands

puffadda admits that nepotism is a huge part of NASCAR but disagrees that it has anything to do with ratings. I mean, if anything, Chase Elliott being out is actually hurting the ratings in the same way the ratings fell off in 2016 after Dale Earnhardt Jr. got hurt.

poolboy__q questions if this even applies to NASCAR as a vast majority of drivers are nepo babies.

trs10407 argues that even two of the most popular drivers of all time and two of the three record 7-times champions of the sport were also second-generation drivers.

While nepotism may (or may not) be a problem, SpenceSmithback argues that it won’t be stopping anytime soon. I mean, just look at some of these drivers last names from the Millbridge kart track…

ClayGCollins9 argues that the nepotism is actually keeping the sport afloat, not hindering it.

91TwilightGT claims that, like golf, motorsports is a rich person’s sport. It tales a lot of money to race and if a last name is going to attract sponsors, that’s just the way it is.

butdatbackflipp thinks that the nepotism has nothing to do with the ratings falloff as F1 deals with very similar issues and is more popular than it has ever been.

Immediate_Lie7810 says that nepotism is present in all sports.

Since nepotism is and always will be a thing in the world at large, why would it also not trickle down to sports and even NASCAR?

Cute-Effect-3479 points out that Corey Lajoie is a nepo baby and she still digs him.

bjohnson203 says that the biggest problem with nepotism in the sport of NASCAR isn’t actually out on the track but in the broadcast booth.

What do you all think? Is nepotism a problem in NASCAR or is the argument really grasping at straws here? Let us know!

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts