Earnhardt and Death

After watching the countless news media interviews with people, all of who seem to be crying, and the shots of countless more people crying over all the memorials, and people who couldn’t even go to work the next day cuz they were too broken up over it, I had a thought. How many of these grieving people can list the names…scratch that… even call out the number, of obituaries in their local community newspaper that day? Or even today? “He contributed so much” … What about the retired neighborhood doctor who may have delivered those people’s children, or the single mother who raised a wonderful family, or the elderly lady at the store who always had a smile and kind word, all who may have lived on their own block, perhaps even been a neighbor? What about the cop that got killed in their town maybe that weekend? (So what, that’s part of a cop’s job, right)? My money says not one in a thousand can, and that’s being very generous. It strikes me as very odd that people can be so affected by the death of a celebrity that they never talked to, or perhaps they managed to shake their hand during an autograph, yet seem to feel that the common folk don’t need to be mourned, remembered or even acknowledged unless it’s immediate family.

p.s. Just a thought that passed… if anyone feels it’s in the wrong forum, slap me and move it:)

Well as a foreigner who isn’t really into auto racing my knowledge of Dale Earnhardt is limited to playing as him on some computer game and knowing vaguely that he’s one of the greats.

However I feel I have to say something on your post. While your comment that local members of the community who are more anonymous does have some base, I think you’re overlooking the fact that in this age of mass media saturation (particularly in the sporting arena) that people in the public eye are heroes. They’re examples that our dreams and aspirations can be realised. I won’t digress into a sociological tangent on the importance of heroes and dreams today: suffice to say that IMO they’re ** extremely ** important.

Not only do we look up to these people, we also build them up in our minds, often to a point near immortality. Death reduces them to human-status once more in a shockingly abrupt way.

Heck when my sporting idol retired I felt hollow and that’s a far cry from unexpectedly dying. Then again I was heartbroken when one of favourite X-Men was killed recently. Why? Because of what he represented.

I’m not belittling Dale’s death by this comparison. In fact in my estimation it’s an accurate portrayal of the high esteem we place in those we follow. We respect them. Having now read his record over the years I feel a great respect for him and yes a sense of loss as well despite only coming accross these details after the tragedy.

So while the local doctors et al DO have an impact on our lives in incredible ways, these heroes impact upon our dreams - a much richer and more important ingrediant in our journey of life.

1996: David Boon retires (dpr writes an article entitled: The Day The Cricket Died), During the 100th anniversary of the Olympics, a bomb explodes in Atlanta's Centennial Park, killing one and injuring 111 others, Tiger Woods wins the Amateur US Open for the 3rd year in a row and turns pro, Lady Diana and Prince Charles divorce

dpr, I agree with what you say. It’s important, especially for children, to have heroes. And it’s natural to feel a certain loss when one leaves. But what I don’t understand is the hysterics. I don’t understand how someone can go to complete pieces over a Dale, or an Elvis, etc… and not give a damn when a casual acquaintance dies. I find it difficult to understand how people are personally affected by the death of people they have only seen on TV or from a grandstand, and be so detached during the death of someone they may know personally. I think jane-says puts across my thoughts in a different manner, and perhaps much better, in her thread in the Pit.

I agree with points mad3e by both posters here, and will only point out that the doctor’s (to continue using this role model) death is usually not televised to any great length. Who is to say that people are not feeling intense pain, crying, what have you, behind closed doors? I’ve never had a camera shoved in my face when a close family member or friend died, but you can bet your biddy, I certainly felt the same type of pain and loss as is being expressed by fans and friends of Mr. Earnhardt.


And that “doctor” is a hero–his fan base is just much smaller.

I can’t add much to the reasonings stated by the other posters to this thread, other than as a race fan.

A lot of why Dale’s death has affected so many people is by the nature of NASCAR as a sport. AFAIK, there is no sport that has such a sense of community, of family, as NASCAR does. Many, many of these people that are crying and upset and not going to work because they are prostate with grief had actually met Dale. They may not have gotten a chance to know him, but if they were at a race, or in line to meet with him, chances are, he stopped for a few moments to chat, ask them about themselves, show his respect for his fans. So between the personal meeting, and the hero-status that dpr mentioned… yeah, it’s going to hit hard. I have cried, off and on, for days (most recently when hearing the DE tribute song made from “One More Day”) I’d never met the man, and he wasn’t my favorite driver. But his death was a tragedy, and a great loss to the sport.

As far as the obituaries for people in my community… I’ll be the first to admit that, no, I don’t know how many people were listed in the obituaries in my local paper. But then again, I don’t read my local paper. And I am now in a much larger town than when I grew up. But when I was growing up, in a town where I literally knew EVERYONE, whenever there was a tragic, or unexpected death, there was an outpouring from the whole town. When I was in 5th grade, the 3rd grade teacher died of a heart attack. The school was in mourning for days. Parents, teachers, students… It’s not always as cold as you think, Turbo Dog.