Jimmy Watts Needed to Be Taught a Hard Lesson

Years ago, my son decided it wouldn’t be unreasonable to shove a dinner fork into a power outlet. Fortunately, my wife and I, we have no class, so our cutlery is cheap – the kind with white plastic handles riveted to Grade Z steel you buy at Woolworth’s? Anyway, the plastic served to insulate my little genius from the worst of the shock, but Einstein did fry the outlet and just generally scare the crap out of himself. And me.
 

Years ago, my son decided it wouldn’t be unreasonable to shove a dinner fork into a power outlet. Fortunately, my wife and I, we have no class, so our cutlery is cheap – the kind with white plastic handles riveted to Grade Z steel you buy at Woolworth’s? Anyway, the plastic served to insulate my little genius from the worst of the shock, but Einstein did fry the outlet and just generally scare the crap out of himself. And me.  

Through his tears, the kid apologized and assured me I’ll never do it again. I was inclined to believe him, what with the hair on the back of his neck still standing. Nevertheless, and seizing this ideal teaching moment, I decided to embed the humiliation in his mind and punish him far beyond any measure of common sense. I figured it this way: Let’s not only remind him how stupid he is, let’s make sure he and everyone else he knows never forgets it either. 

Five years and much soul searching later, I’ve yet to determine if I did the right thing. I mean, he deserved to be punished for scaring the bejesus out of me, right? 

Well, leave it to NASCAR to see me through my darkest parenting hour — hell, if Jimmy Watts deserves a four-race suspension and season-long probation for a momentary lapse of judgment at Atlanta, then no way I feel bad or that I overreacted to my kid’s brazen stupidity.

Should Jimmy Watts have known better? That’s as obvious as the fact that supply-side economics was discredited as a policy before Ronald Reagan left office; does Watts deserve to be reminded, perhaps even forcefully, that he can’t be doing that kind of thing ever again? Yes. Clearly, then, the issue is what constitutes "appropriate punishment"?

There’s no question that Watts’ action had a fairly direct and consequential impact on the race — the caution put most of the field, including a number of top contenders, one lap down. Forgetting for a moment that 29 cars finished at least two laps down on Sunday, Watts insinuated himself into competition to an unfortunate degree.

But, NASCAR didn’t punish Watts under the You completely screwed up the on-track competition provision of the rule book; it did so apparently based on Section 9-15, U, which says that crew members cannot go onto the track under any circumstances unless directed to do so by an official. But even if NASCAR had based its decision on the heretofore unknown You screwed up competition provision, it’s arguable that Watts’ action was really all that consequential – fine, Joey Logano would’ve finished five laps down instead of six.

Four races? Season-long probation? Come off it, NASCAR, enough’s enough.