No part of American life has been spared from the aggressive narrative of DEI initiatives. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been central themes of the woke left, infiltrating movies, television, schools, the workplace, and even sports, often to the detriment of everything it touches. Critics have noted that in certain career fields like the military, airline pilots, doctors, etc, the push for diversity could lead to unqualified people flying planes, doing surgery, and going to war.
Naturally, all of these scenarios could cost innocent lives, but DEI has morphed into a type of religion for the left. It is unclear as to what benefit DEI initiatives have except for optics. Many companies pride themselves on how many brown and lgbtq faces they can present to prove how woke they are as opposed to hiring the most qualified candidate regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference.
Unfortunately, in 2024, this is where we are, and even the sports world is being affected. Sports have been the one place where DEI hasn’t taken hold. NBA teams, NFL teams, MLB, and nearly every major sport are still settled by who is best on the field as opposed to checking boxes with the required number of minorities or transgendered people. That isn’t to say the sideline and front offices haven’t been affected.
Many leagues, like the NFL, have requirements, once called quotas, affecting who gets interviewed for open coaching positions. The so-called “Rooney Rule” in the NFL requires all teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for open Head Coaching and senior football operations jobs. Now, another sport has decided to take a hard left turn in its use of DEI. NASCAR, which has been struggling with viewership in recent years, is embracing the controversial initiative in an attempt to gain minority viewers.
The sport flourished in the 1990s and 2000s because of the star power of drivers like Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. Unfortunately, Earnhardt died in a crash, and Gordon hung up his helmet years ago, and there have been few compelling personalities in the sport since. Without personalities and rivalries, many fans realized they were simply watching people make left turns.
The ratings bear this out. Since 2018, ratings have dropped from an average of 3.2 million to 2.9 million for NASCAR Cup races. While those are still relatively good numbers, NASCAR has realized they are bleeding viewers. Their solution? Appeal to minorities using DEI tactics. Peter Jung, NASCAR’s chief marketing officer said: “In terms of new fans, three years or less, the propensity or composition of multicultural is significantly greater. It’s, I think, more than 40%.”
Jung specifically talked about DEI, saying inclusion “is one of our seven core values as a company. This is maybe a surprise to some other marketers.” However, in November, America First Legal filed a petition with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asking for an investigation into NASCAR’s use of DEI. Senior counsel Nick Barry said: “NASCAR shouldn’t be picking drivers based on their race and sex, but on their ability to drive. All racial discrimination is wrong, even if it is the in-vogue ‘social justice’ cause of the day.”
Putting unqualified pit people and drivers on the track for the sake of diversity may eventually cost lives. There has been growing pushback against DEI initiatives in recent months, but it appears NASCAR is putting the petal to the metal for the sake of a few fans. It is a desperate move from a dying sport, and if/when people die as a result, it may be too late for NASCAR.