• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, June 08, 2014

PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS

Here are 10 facts (as opposed to attacks) that could have been learned from the 20-minute conversation I had in the Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 23 with CEO Mark Miles. That was posted here last week. Of course, one would have to focus on the message, not the messenger, to actually become a more informed fan. A more knowledgeable fan is a better fan.

 1. The much talked-about $100 million to fix-up IMS will actually net out at $15-20 million less than that.

 2. The Indiana state money isn't to be used for maintenance.

 3. The Master Plan to redevelop IMS will be presented to the IMS Board this month.

 4. The Plan will include upgrading of some grandstand sections and a party deck.

 5. ADA compliance is triggered when there is change to a grandstand.

 6. Key business metrics, such as revenues and TV numbers, are up.

 7. The Board wants IMS used more "aggressively"; thus, more events.

 8. To date, the Board has not said no to any Miles' proposal.

 9. Competition boss Derrick Walker's duties have been expanded to include taking the lead on the possibility of an event at Phoenix International Raceway.

10. The window for season-opening points-paying international races is from the week after the Super Bowl through the first weekend in March.


One might logically think those who portray themselves as highly engaged, passionate, fans would appreciated the information presented from the Miles' conversation.  

But, sadly, as the standards of acceptable behavior continue to decline in our social media society, where gutless anonymous people post lies and personal attacks without fear of consequence or accountability, that's too often not the case. There was a time, and it wasn't that long ago (I lived it), when such conduct would have caused the attacker to be shunned. If not punished by one's parents or tagged over the knuckles with a ruler by a nun.

These days, it's not about what some people read. It's about what they think they read, based on their own biases and the invention of their own set of "facts." Important information is not digested -- in other words, there is no learning -- just because some people disagree with who presents that information. Some even justify these sort of personal attacks as part of the "fun" of the Internet. Or, worse yet, as OK because it's all "entertainment."

Even when facts are presented that prove shoot-from-the-keyboard posters are wrong, well, how many of these people then step-up and apologize? A great recent example: Beaux Barfield ordering a red flag at Indy because he had decided in advance to do that in the event of a crash with 10 or fewer laps remaining, not because of damage to the SAFER barrier. Still waiting, Waiting, WAITING for those "sorry, I was wrong . . ." apologies for the personal attacks (and outright lies) that came after I called Barfield out on Twitter.

Logic might lead one to conclude fans would want to learn more about the Business of Racing, which includes various marketing and PR techniques, which -- yes -- helps gain an enterprise more attention. The Internet and social media can be great tools to accomplish these objectives. And, in responsible hands, they are.

Some of us still believe a productive day is defined as having learned something, not having personally attacked someone.

After the LeBron James' controversy in Game One of the NBA Finals, ABC lead announcer Mike Breem said social media has devolved into "the medium of attack." Very true. It doesn't have to be that way, of course, if the traditional standards of acceptable behavior were still in force. They could and should be.

Some are so ill-informed -- or lazy? -- they don't understand the difference in the personalized way a blog is written, vs. a straight news story, vs. a feature article, vs. an opinion column. The purpose and methodology of each are not the same.

I'd ask some of these people if they have no shame. But the answer is obvious.

Was there solid information from Mark Miles in the blog that helped fans better understand what is happening at IMS and in IndyCar and his plans for the future? Was there knowledge to be gained? The obvious answers: Yes and Yes.

Too bad that's not good enough.

P.S. -- To those who will now post anonymous personal attacks based on this blog, thanks, in advance, for proving my point.

[ PLEASE NOTE: Higher and more urgent personal priorities will again put this blog on hiatus. I'll return July 7 to mark the blog's eighth anniversary. Thank you.]