In my post on my spiffy Big Bamboo hat, I had a footnote tag after Bahrain Grand Prix and then forgot to put in the footnote. That is probably a good thing because it would have been the tail wagging the dog anyway.
This weekend is the Bahrain Grand Prix and I don’t think the F11 circus should be there. It helps legitimize a regime that shouldn’t be legitimized. A regime that called in the Saudi army to help it put down peaceful protests. A minority Sunni regime that suppresses its Shiite majority and, by its own admission, has killed and tortured its own citizens when they protested. It seems to be a case of Bahrain’s desire for national prestige and its willingness to pay for that prestige trumping morality.
As much as I want to think otherwise, that is what Grand Prix racing is all about: money and national prestige. It is an incredibly expensive sport. The top teams pay about a half a billion dollars a year to play. The top drivers are some of the highest paid athletes in the world.2
It brings up the question of, as a fan, how much do I want to support a sport that is amoral at best and probably really – by a lot of reasonable standards – immoral. And, yet, I love cars and so enjoy seeing the best cars in the world race. I have been critical of Giants fans who supported Barry Bonds and I still support Fernando Alonso who once cheated and then tried to blackmail his team owner in an effort to get an advantage. But, man, is he a good driver.
What my mini moral dilemma boils down to is this: I don’t want Formula One to race at Bahrain, but, because they are, I will watch it. It seems that I want somebody else to govern my moral behavior. I don’t think that puts me on the level of a child abuser, but I am also pretty sure that the Buddha would not approve.
1 F1 stands for Formula One, the highest class of racing cars specified by the FIA – Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, the governing body of international auto racing – that race in twenty races a year, each race in a different country.
2 Michael Schumacher is the most successful and highest paid driver, so far making over one billion dollars in his career.