NASCAR is famous for being the sport whose fans revel in antics like crashes and driver fistfights. What they have no patience for is swearing and TV commercials about erectile dysfunction. An open records request filed by Jalopnik has revealed that fans filed a whopping 18,359 complaints about NASCAR coverage to the FCC over the last three years.
Oh, and they hate those GoDaddy ads. But everyone hates those.
Inspired by our colleagues at Deadspin, Jalopnik sought to discover exactly what drives NASCAR fans to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission, the body that regulates TV and radio broadcasts. It turns out that like the viewers who complained about the Super Bowl, they are deeply upset over profanity and portrayals of sexuality in both the NASCAR races themselves and the advertisements aired during those races.
The FCC gets complaints like these all the time. When rapper MIA flashed the middle finger during the 2012 Super Bowl, 222 viewers wrote in to complain. Deadspin reported 48 complaints over Beyonce's Super Bowl act this year.
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But it turns out that NASCAR viewers are perhaps the most prolific complainers. Initially, we requested copies of all FCC complaints filed between Jan. 1, 2010 and July 1, 2013, assuming that this more than three year window would give us some insight into what agitates NASCAR's fans.
But then the FCC informed us that our request would yield 18,359 complaints filed in that period — more than 55,000 pages of documents. So as not to waste the precious and limited resources of our federal government, we agreed to a compromise of five complaints from each month of that time period.
Why did we look into NASCAR? Because in terms of viewership it's huge, far surpassing any other form of American auto racing.
Though NASCAR ratings have declined in recent years, its audience remains sizable, with Sprint Cup races drawing anywhere between 6 million and 13.6 million viewers last year, according to PennLive.com. When you have that many people watching, some viewers are bound to be more sensitive than others, which can often drive them to file complaints with the FCC about things they find offensive during the races.
In particular, that seems to be when drivers and crews utter profanity during live races and the networks fail to catch it, or when they see ads they find sexually objectionable. (For reasons I can't determine, a few of the complaints that came out of our request were for segments of Family Guy and American Dad.)
Not a single complaint in our six-inch stack of documents dealt with imagery related to crashes, even when spectators are injured. But hey, isn't having issues with sexuality but being okay with violence what America is truly all about?
If the FCC determines the subject of the complaint to indeed be in violation of their rules, they can issue fines to the network that aired the program, not NASCAR itself. Through a spokesman, the racing body declined to comment for this story, saying FCC issues are dealt with by the networks, not them.
Still, NASCAR has been the target of so-called "family" groups in the past over swearing that slips onto the air, like when the Family Policy Network urged concerned people in 2006 to file complaints over the utterance of "the s-word" during the Food City 500.
This is not to say that NASCAR doesn't crack down on bad language. After all, they're a family sport. In 2004 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. used the same "s-word" during a post-race interview, he was hit with a $10,000 fine and docked 25 points, although it still sparked a deluge of complaints.
Below are just some of the 18,359 complaints filed by NASCAR fans over the last few years. Check out the Scribd to read all of them, if you have enough spare time.
They Hate The "Erectial Disfunction" Commercials
This was an incredibly common complaint in our stack of documents. It turns out the last thing NASCAR fans want to discuss is erections with their loved ones or watch commercials for Cialis or Viagra.
They Hate Sexy Hamburger Ads
Sexy commercials during NASCAR time? Forget it, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, the fans are onto you. Some of them are even attorneys who are exploring legal action against your sexiness!
They Think The GoDaddy Ads Are "Lesbian X-Rated Porn"
NASCAR fans really hate Danica Patrick's GoDaddy commercials. I dunno, I'm on their side with this one.
They Really Hate When Drivers Use Bad Words
Far and away, most complaints we saw dealt with driver swearing over the radio or in interviews that slipped onto the airwaves. Now, racing is an intense sport, and many of the drivers in NASCAR are still good old country boys and girls, so you can't expect them to talk like they're addressing the Queen of England all the time. Or can you?
I guess it's okay to type and send to the government, but not to say out loud?
Most of the complaints we received were related to a May 2011 running of the Coca-Cola 600 where Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus said "You've gotta be fucking kidding me" over the radio and it was allowed to air on TV. Fox Sports broadcasters immediately apologized for the language.
These complaints were all boilerplate, leading me to believe they were part of a letter-writing campaign organized by some group.
Don't Fuck With The USA, Especially On A T-Shirt
They Think NASCAR CEO Brian France Is Running A Secret Terrorist Organization
According to what is far and away the greatest complaint in our stack, Brian France's NASCAR is nothing more than a front for an organization that sounds like a cross between Al-Qaeda, the League of Shadows, and the Sons of Anarchy. Who knew?
We may have to get the Jalopnik I-Team to look into that last one.
Here are all the complaints provided to Jalopnik in one easy to search form. Please point out anything interesting you find in the comments below.
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