Thursday, August 7, 2008
"Outside The Lines" To Focus On NASCAR's Workplace Culture
ESPN's award-winning news series is called Outside The Lines. Created around veteran sports news anchor Bob Ley, this program has long been a news-oriented window into some of the biggest sports issues in the public eye.
This Sunday, OTL will turn to NASCAR. It has been several months since the allegations of racial and sexual abuse from former Nationwide Series inspector Mauricia Grant against various NASCAR employees were made public. Now, ESPN turns the spotlight on NASCAR and the culture of the workplace on racing weekends.
Most NASCAR fans have no idea what the reality of a NASCAR inspector's weekend entails. We see the inspectors on pit road during the TV races and sometimes we see them during tech inspection on TV shows like NASCAR Live . For most of us, this is new territory.
Here is ESPN's explanation of the theme of the OTL episode in question:
"Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9:30 a.m. ET ESPN; noon ESPNEWS) will look at minorities and women who work on the NASCAR circuit. This past June, former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant filed a discrimination lawsuit against the stock-car racing association. In light of Grant’s lawsuit, OTL will explore the work culture inside the NASCAR community."
That is certainly a bold statement coming from NASCAR's largest TV partner. The size of the ESPN company and the ability of OTL to look at this issue with an outsider's perspective should make for some interesting viewing. Whether the outcome will affect public opinion about the Grant lawsuit is up for debate.
OTL has shown a previous history of jumping into the deep end of the pool on hard news issues and this certainly will be a first for NASCAR. An active TV partner talking about and examining the very culture that NASCAR developed and continues to maintain at the racetracks.
We should remind ourselves once again that the allegations in the current lawsuit are limited to the Nationwide Series. Grant was particular in naming names, and two of those mentioned in the lawsuit have already been suspended by the sanctioning body. NASCAR maintains the suspensions have nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Sunday morning on ESPN should be a very interesting time for NASCAR employees and fans alike, as a hard-hitting sports news show ventures into new territory and presents the findings to the entire nation. The results may be a cause of discussion for some time to come.
NASCAR was recently granted a three-week extension to file the response to Grant's lawsuit. That time is now up, and the legal papers will be submitted on Friday, August 8th. Two days before Outside The Lines debuts on ESPN.
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