Patience. Sports heroes are as imperfect as the rest of us, one NASCAR driver reminded us this week.
In a blog post from NASCAR’s Brad Keselowski, he asks fans, media and other drivers not to judge too quickly when the sports stars behave badly.
While it might seem obvious, Keselowski – in a post fittingly titled “The Fault in Our Stars” – asks people to remember one fact many may be overlooking: “Athletes are human.”
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Keselowski leads by calling out some reaction, including his own, to Kyle Busch’s one-line post-race presser after a frustrating night at May’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.
Here’s what he had to say back in May.
Keselowski confessed regrets about those comments. “Everyone – myself included ... missed an opportunity where we could all have learned something.”
Then he stayed on point by digging into his own mistakes, including two incidents that he wishes he had handled differently.
Keselowski wants fans to understand that he and other drivers are going to screw up at times.
In some ways, how we react to our heroes’ shortcomings says as much about us and the time in which we live in as it does about them.
“The challenge for all of us – athletes, media and fans – is how we choose to digest the frailties we see,” Keselowski wrote. “In some ways, how we react to our heroes’ shortcomings says as much about us and the time in which we live in as it does about them.”
The driver used one example from outside racing – President John F. Kennedy. In the ’60s, Keselowski says few people knew of Kennedy’s “extracurricular activites going on in his personal life” – presumable the popular president’s many affairs. If they had, his public image would have suffered.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say it would have changed the way they felt pretty fairly adversely,” Keselowski wrote.
It used to be that we never knew about the faults of our heroes. Now, it seems like that’s all we know.
These days, very little about our political leaders, well-known athletes and celebrities escapes notice.
“It used to be that we never knew about the faults of our heroes,” Keselowsi wrotes. “Now, it seems like that’s all we know.”
While it’s natural for people to judge others who behave badly, Keselowski reminds his followers to weigh the good with the sensational or negative, to avoid “an evironment that feels toxic.”
Citing a saying that’s a favorite of his mother-in-law, Keselowski asks people to “Hate the sin, not the sinner.
“It’s a simple way of saying two things. First, it’s okay to like someone who isn’t perfect because none of us are. And second, it’s also okay to dislike things that the same person might have done wrong.”
Keselowski cited the reaction to Danica Patrick’s recent chewing out some fans at Pocono who booed her. Patrick later apologized and explained that the reaction followed a moment with an overzealous fan who had to be removed by security, but the reaction was harsh.
“She definitely didn’t deserve what happened, which was that people were talking about her on social media like she was the worst person in the world,” Keselowski wrote.
The driver also acknowledged his own mistakes, including his bashing NASCAR after the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. “In the heat of the moment, I lost my cool,” he wrote.
And he really regrets a fight with Jeff Gordon in 2014 at Texas Speedway. The post-race brawl between the teams about some contact during the race ended with both drivers suffering cuts to their faces.
“I regret not having the humility to walk up to him and say, ‘I hated that that happened to you. I didn’t want it to happen,’” Keselowski wrote.
Keselowski ended his blog with this wish:
“Hopefully, we can find a way to be strong enough to identify our own weaknesses and faults, and tolerant enough to forgive others for having them, too. ... We’re not there yet.”
Follow Mike Reader on Twitter.