Tags: Indy | 500 | Kentucky | Derby

The Indy 500: I Just Don’t Get It

Monday, 21 May 2012 12:39 PM

By Jon Friedman

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I am as American as apple pie even though I live in New York City. I love the pomp and circumstance of the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, the presidential debates, and all of the other uniquely Americana slices of life.

But when it comes to the Indy 500 race, I just don’t get it. Why do people outside of Indiana take this event so seriously?

Let me make sure I understand the particulars: Cars race around a track. Over and over and over and over, for 500 miles, to determine a winner.

Hopefully, nobody is killed or injured badly.

I grew up in New York. I learned to love baseball, football, basketball, and ice hockey. I tolerate tennis. I don’t tolerate golf much but sort of understand why so many other people love to play (and even watch) the sport. I suppose there is an element of drama when a golfer makes an impossible putt or melts down on the 18th hole. But I don’t care too much.

And I care even less about watching drivers race and careen around corners at the Indy 500.

I don’t want to believe that my fellow Americans tune in to the race around the Brickyard secretly waiting for someone to have a crash — or am I missing something? Are we a nation of ghouls, after all?

A lot of people would rather see Kobe Bryant or LeBron James fail in the clutch than come through. We seem to take greater pleasure in the misery of public figures, particularly sports stars, than in their Herculean triumphs.

I hope you all enjoy the Indy 500. I hope it is as thrilling as the Derby, when I’ll Have Another emerged from the pack to sprint to a dramatic and improbable victory. That was a terrific race, one which any bettor or non-bettor could enjoy for its majesty and splendor. It was entertaining!

Let’s hope, above all, the ghouls feel disappointed. I hope no one gets hurt.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column. (Friedman is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which Penguin will publish in August.) Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.

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