Appreciation, a Lost Art

Most people don’t appreciate passion as it happens. They wait until time passes to admire the effort, the skill, and the desire. It’s a disservice to those who put blood, sweat, and tears into their craft. And other times, people don’t understand what is truly defined as passion. It comes off as cockiness and results in profanity-laced Twitter responses by “fans.”

This is what our culture has morphed into, and I am sick of it.

I love genuine athletes. It doesn’t matter what sport they participate in; they have my support. I say “genuine” because there are some who fall off to the wayside. They let the money and fame get into their morality and sicken it, becoming fueled by dollar signs instead of dedication. It’s when they have the opportunity to be a role model and fail. It’s when their new goals center on drugs, sex, and tangible happiness. When the fake athletes are revealed, we as fans let a bad apple ruin the entire basket. Instead, we need to highlight the good apples, show them off and prove that the world of sports is a fantastic place to be. Because it is.

Brad Keselowski is the racer NASCAR needs. He isn’t manufactured; there are rough edges and imperfections. There are times when people wish he were created in a factory, and I can’t help but shudder at the image that renders in my mind. I do not want to live in a world with a clean, soft-spoken Keselowski. There are drivers with that demeanor already, and they’re great. When the Michigan driver came onto the scene, however, he did it with a bang. And what followed was a breath of fresh air.

Holes are a huge thing in racing, especially when they’re left open on the track. Some are large and gaping, others are barely the right size. A driver would look yet wouldn’t go for the opening. The racer doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter if there are two laps to go or two-hundred, he’s going to make it work. He can taste the lead, smell the shower of beer and victory, and feel the magnitude of winning. With this format of the Chase, finishing first punches your ticket. If someone takes that opportunity away, someone’s getting punched.

Jeff Gordon had a right to be mad. He wanted that win more than anything in the world. Another championship, another chance to say, “Hey, I’m still here, even if I’m in my forties.” Because he is a racer, he understands what Keselowski was trying to do; when he was younger, the four-time champion would do the exact same thing. However, he was mad for a good reason, having a win stripped away from him. He wanted Keselowski to know that.

Chaos prevailed, a crashing sea of media, drivers, and crew members flooding pit lane. Keselowski was punched by a No. 24 crew member. Gordon came out of it with a bloody lip.

I will be truthful: I enjoyed every second of the scuffling, because I’m thrilled to see that these drivers still care. They want to be validated even after winning the championship once or thrice before. That’s beautiful. That’s all that’s right in the world.

That’s passionate.

Keselowski is the grit NASCAR can use, Gordon is the old dog who still has his bite. Neither of them did anything wrong, and we need to appreciate their fire.

Because who knows when another genuine athlete will come along?

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