Imagine that you have a coworker who is CONSTANTLY late for work.
Your boss, knowing that you and the coworker are good friends, wants you to talk to him about his perpetual tardiness.
"I just don't want to have to fire your friend," your boss says, "And I've written him up, so many times, there really isn't another option."
You know that your friend is a hard worker (when they are there), and really can't afford to lose their job.
So, that's why you find yourself confronting your pal as they clock in, a good hour into the work shift.
"Hey, man," you say, "Glad you made it."
"Yeah," he says, "Traffic was awful. I swear, I don't know why the city doesn't put in another access route connecting the interstates... it gets so congested, every morning."
"Well," you begin, with a deep breath, "That's kind of what I was needing to talk to you about..."
"Oh, man... I need to get a cup of coffee. You know, the city really ought to consider putting in an extra lane for us working stiffs. There's no reason we should be stuck on the road behind all of the gawkers and semis... and whoever thought to make the speed limit 45? Seriously... if it were 55, or even 65, traffic would move a lot faster."
"Um..." you falter, "Have you thought of leaving a little earlier? Maybe... taking a different route?"
He brushes off your suggestion with a wave of the hand.
"What they REALLY need to do," he says, "Is to change the work hours of this place. If we started a couple hours later, and left an hour or two earlier, we wouldn't have to deal with the morning traffic jams."
"But..." you try again, "That would cut down our work hours, and our pay!"
"If they raised our pay, we wouldn't NEED to work as many hours."
"Look," you say, "The boss wanted me to talk to you about your punctuality. Man, you are on the verge of being FIRED. You NEED to DO something."
"Fired?" He gasps. "What do you mean? I'm the best employee they've got!"
You bite your lip.
"He doesn't WANT to fire you... but he NEEDS you to be here ON TIME. What can you do, to make this happen?"
He collapses into a chair, at the breakroom table.
"I can't believe this... me. FIRED. Man... you know... if the city would just get rid of those stop lights on Broad and Main streets, that would take care of a lot of the problem, right there..."
At what point do you give up?
We run into the same frustration, while talking with fellow fans about ways we can help build the sport.
People are MORE than happy to tell you what the sanctioning bodies SHOULD do. They need to revamp the rules... or do away with them, altogether... but keep the racing close. They need to lift the regulations on tires and fuel, but make sure that there is no advantage given to those with deeper pockets. They need to get more races on the agenda, all over the country, but not anyplace that requires us to burn up more fuel to attend. They need to bring in more twins races, for those who have spent the last couple of years getting a Basic Twin bike ready, but not so many that it makes things unfair for those who don't have rides.
"Ok," we say, "But how can the FANS help the sport?"
They should lower the sanctioning fees and invest more into TV coverage and advertising, but raise the purses to make the effort more rewarding. They should get rid of Fan's Choice, because it keeps people from attending, but they should PROMOTE Fan's Choice, because it could introduce the sport to new fan bases.
"All right," we say, "But what can WE do... as FANS... to help the sport grow?"
They need more TV time... reality shows... every race, on the speed and sports networks... maybe a documentary series or two. The sport is FULL of human interest stories, exciting action, and all of the other things that make it a success... we just need to get the word out!
"It sure does," we say, "But what can WE DO TO HELP?"
They ought to do away with the fireworks and T-shirt cannons... but use laserlight shows and big screen TVs with rider intros, and theme songs for each rider... cut out on the track prep, but keep the track safe for the racers... bring in live bands and hot umbrella girls, but cut down on the loud music and do away with the sexism.
It never fails.
We ask for suggestions... bringing in new fans... sharing the sport on non-related media outlets... keeping things positive online, to keep from turning off potential sponsors... donating to riders and supporting amateur races... etc.
EVERY SINGLE TIME, they respond with a sentence that begins with the words "They need to" or "They ought to."
Am I saying that we should keep silent on issues that need addressed... not mention our thoughts and ideas?
Not at all.
Like the chronically tardy coworker, saying what "they" should do doesn't fix the problem. Insight into what WE can do... and acting upon it... is the key.
So, I ask YOU...
What can WE... the FANS... do, to help the sport of flat track to grow?