edit: As of October 27, 2011 the title of this post was changed from statement; 'I'm Not a Fan Anymore' to question; 'Am I Not a Fan Anymore?'. I felt the need to amend this title to better reflect the intent of the article rather than imbue a tone for the reader.
Dan Wheldon's violent end was an unwelcome punch that caught me already reeling from other jarring events recently which only gives me further pause to wonder just what in this world is of true value.
As an ardent follower of Indycar, I of course feel grief for Dan's death, his family, children, and wife he leaves behind, but in my case, it comes on the heels of other head-shaking and tragic events.
Some nine days ago, in my relatively benign little piece of Indiana, another violent end of life came in the form of an inexplicable home invasion of a well-loved, local college professor in which the (still at-large) attacker critically wounded the wife and mother of three, then turned his attention to the husband who had come to fend off the attacker. In a scant matter of moments, the lives of the survivors violently altered and the life of the husband and father brutally taken from him by circumstances beyond their control.
I feel that in many ways Wheldon's death was similar in that circumstances conspired ruthlessly and tragically to deal a swift, unexpected, and horrible end to a life, and yet different in that I feel a level of responsibility for Dan's death that I couldn't possibly for a random murder.
On Sunday morning, I was a fan of Indycar. A fan of the speed, thrills, color, legend, pageantry, and excitement that one could only get from this form of auto racing. I supported it with my dollars, energy, and enthusiasm. On Sunday evening, I have decided to not be a fan of this anymore. By my assessment, there is simply no need significant enough to justify the cost of life and limb.
I assign no blame to any specific person, place, or thing for Sunday's events, mind you, I simply choose to not revel in sports such as these any longer. I am saddened for the crews, drivers, fans, and many others who have given their lives for this sport. As a husband and father, I am especially saddened that the hole left by Dan's death is irreparable for his wife and two young children left behind.
It all became very clear to me when my 7-year old son last night (while tucking him into bed) asked if Dan Wheldon had children. "Yes", I said, "two boys, a 3 year-old and a 7 month-old". My son's reply was all too lucid, ..."and they will never know their father". It was all I could do to not cry then and simply hug and kiss my boy. I said a silent prayer that he never has to deal with that sort of loss.
I don't consider my decision to be any sort of vindictive or misplaced assignment of blame, and it's not just Indycar I am forced to consider. Any form of commercialized 'sport' where maiming and killing occurs under the guise of entertainment, applies. Most sports actively work toward preventing incidents such as these, however, there is a constant and violent undercurrent that remains and I question the commercialization of these sorts of activities. It sickens me that the reason some 'sports' exist today is built solely on the attraction of their brutal and sometimes horrific nature.
While I can understand (and have experienced) that incredible attraction and exhilaration of seeing death-defying feats, I have no more love for it.
I elevate my love for life and will treat it with even more respect and dignity.
I fully expect the sport to go much as planned in 2012, but I for one won't be celebrating it they way I have before. I simply can't.