Are race car drivers athletes? It’s a debate that’s been going on for years and years. But until recently, it hadn’t been brought up in awhile. That changed when former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb gave his opinion on Jimmie Johnson:
“Do I think he’s an athlete? Absolutely not. He’s not an athlete. He sits in a car and he drives. That’s not athletic… What athletically is he doing?”
As you could imagine, those comments did not sit well with NASCAR drivers and fans. Johnson is clearly the sport’s best driver and he just won his sixth Sprint Cup title. Many viewed McNabb’s comments as disrespectful. One of those people is fellow NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick. Here’s what Harvick tweeted out on Wednesday:
“Cardio day in the gym today… Felt like @donovanjmcnabb in the 4th quarter… #sluggish”.
Clearly, shots have now been fired back from the world of auto racing. But no matter what is said back-and-forth between the two sides, the reality is that opinions are unlikely to change. McNabb is unlikely to ever get in a NASCAR and run a race, so he’ll never truly know what it’s like to be driver. Harvick will never suit up to play QB in the NFL, so he’ll never gain that perspective. Both sides are basically free to stick to their guns.
I believe that NASCAR drivers are athletes, but in a different kind of way. They have to be able to withstand grueling conditions for hours at a time while driving a car at really high speeds. Most regular people couldn’t handle that. But I am going to say they epitomize what it means to be an athlete more than a football player does? No way.