Tag Archives: Bristol Motor Speedway

Is There Anything Worth Watching This Weekend?

After scouring Twitter and Google throughout the off-season for something to satiate my college football appetite, last weekend finally arrived. If the anticipation you went into that weekend with was anything like mine, it didn’t happen a moment too soon. And, like me, I’m sure you woke up Tuesday morning mesmerized by what you had witnessed all weekend long.

The season began with an overtime thriller between Appalachian State and Tennessee. Joshua Dobbs? Never stop being you.

We had the chance to watch Wisconsin turn Les Miles’ and LSU’s world upside down. Can Leonard Fournette save Miles’ job?

There was that beat down that Alabama put on USC. Hey, look. Kiffin just dialed up another 4th down touchdown and Saban just hired another former head coach.

Texas may or may not be back on top of the college football world after beating a highly-ranked Notre Dame team. Was that Bobby Boucher quarterbacking the Longhorns? Ah, it was Bouchele.

And to top it all off, Florida State staged a furious comeback as the Seminoles beat Ole Miss behind a halftime pep talk from Jameis Winston that will rank right up there with that Gipper speech.

What. An. Opening. Weekend.

And now we come to Week 2. I’m sorry, but after that epic first weekend, I really thought my college football life would be different. Surely we’d find a few games that we’d not only circle but also plan our Saturday around.

You know what I’m talking about. Hit Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond, but only if there was time to squeeze it into our college football viewing schedule.

Week 2? You suck.

There isn’t a single game being played between two ranked teams. At least in the Week 1 matchups of ranked vs. unranked teams we had what I would describe as solid matchups. You know, games like LSU vs. Wisconsin or UCLA vs. Texas A&M.

Week 2 is setting up to be a big pile of disappointment.

Week 2 gives us the battle of the A&Ms as Texas A&M takes on Prairie View A&M. Sorry, but do the alumni of these two schools even care about this one? I didn’t think so.

There is some excitement behind the Virginia Tech vs Tennessee game, but it’s really a game based on fabricated fluff. All that can really be said about this game is that it’s being played at Bristol Motor Speedway. Terrific! A made for TV game.

I don’t watch college basketball games on aircraft carriers and I don’t care if I ever see another football game played in Yankee Stadium. So having a football game at a race track just doesn’t do it for me.

Here’s what you can expect my Saturday to look like. I’ll wake up, have my coffee and get my oil changed. I may even hit Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Who really knows? If there’s time, I’ll tune in to that Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee game. Why that game? Easy. Because I want to see the statistical masterpiece that Dobbs will create as his encore to his performance against Appalachian State.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

Photo: flickr.com

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No Matter the Final Score, Steve Byrnes Defeated Cancer

Sports give us an escape from everyday trials and tribulations. Or least they should.

They are supposed to be a distraction. They are supposed to entertain us and allow us to get away from all of life’s worries for a few hours. They aren’t supposed to make your heart feel heavy or your tear ducts swell up (unless it is happy tears because who you were rooting for wins a championship).

But cancer doesn’t care about all of that.

Cancer doesn’t care who you are rooting for. It doesn’t distinguish between good guys and bad guys, favorites and underdogs. And unfortunately, that reality hit the NASCAR community (actually, the entire racing community) hard this past week as Steve Byrnes passed away after his battle with cancer.

I, like many others who have expressed their condolences, never actually met Steve Byrnes. But it still felt like he was someone I knew. After all, he came into my living room on a regular basis bringing me the latest NASCAR news or interviews with drivers. He was one of the best there was and according to those who actually knew the man, he was better than that.

On Sunday, Bristol Motor Speedway and NASCAR came together and renamed the Food City 500 to the Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand up to Cancer. While Byrnes was unable to attend, his family was there as Byrnes watched and tweeted out his gratitude. NASCAR on FOX put together an amazing pre-race video in honor of Byrnes, with his son Bryson being the final one to talk.

And then Monday night came word that the family was in need of thoughts and prayers and it made you start to wonder how much time Byrnes had left. That didn’t stop him from posing for picture (and of course smiling) when his nephew visited him in the hospital. It was a picture that instantly made its way around Twitter and brought with it a battle of emotions. You could see that he wasn’t doing well but you could also see that smile.

Again, cancer didn’t care. It didn’t take mercy on one of the good guys. Cancer knew it was in for a fight because not only was Byrnes strong, but he had a hell of a support system around him. And Byrnes fought right down to the end.

When Byrnes passed away on Tuesday, the racing community basically took over Twitter and relayed their memories of Byrnes, one after another after another. Like I said, I never had the pleasure of meeting Steve Byrnes. And while I shouldn’t feel the need to cry when someone I have never met passes away, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears for the man.

I have read (and watched) numerous tributes to Byrnes in the past few days. Each and every one is just as gut-wrenching and tear-jerking as the next, while also being heartwarming. Hearing and reading drivers and colleagues eulogize a man that they all loved and all respected has been a silver lining to a terrible week. To see the racing community come together as a whole to honor him would probably put a smile on Byrnes’ face, but would also make him uncomfortable from the attention.

No matter the context, the final tweet that Byrnes sent out was perfect:

While thinking about the journey Byrnes took and the fight that he showed over the past few months while battling cancer, I couldn’t help but think about a passage in the speech that Stuart Scott delivered at the ESPYs last summer.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like Hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

That passage fits Byrnes perfectly. He lived. He fought. And he let others fight for him when he felt like he couldn’t. Like Scott, Byrnes didn’t lose the fight to cancer. Byrnes went the distance in his fight with cancer and has been declared a winner on every scorecard.

Byrnes also exemplified what Jim Valvano said in closing in his 1993 ESPYs speech:

Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

At no point did it seem that Byrnes had allowed cancer to touch his mind, his heart or his soul.

Maybe cancer thinks it won this round because Byrnes ultimately passed away. But that’s not accurate. Byrnes won. And we won. Because we got to see a man fight for his life and become an inspiration even in his darkest hours. We saw a man smile when he should frown, laugh when he should cry and send out positive message when it would have been easier to give up.

So once again, cancer loses.

Because F*** cancer.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on Twitter @isley23.