In case you missed it earlier today, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb opened quite the can of worms when he suggested that five-time (and very likely six-time) Nascar Champion Jimmie Johnson is not an athlete.
That of course didn’t sit well with fellow drivers, who came to the aid of Johnson on social media, ripping the former quarterback.
20+ yr debate. @NASCAR driver athlete? Never met a "athlete" who actually drove a racecar that doubted it. Care to take a ride Donovan?
— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) November 16, 2013
Donovan McNabb is a moron. Says @JimmieJohnson isn't an athlete because he doesn't do anything active, just drives a car….
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) November 16, 2013
— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (@StenhouseJr) November 16, 2013
I understand why people watch and it doesn't look athletic. The only way to prove it is to put people in 'real' cars and let them learn
— Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) November 16, 2013
Johnson himself had this to say, though, clearly wasn’t into starting a war of words:
The debate continues… Everyone is entitled to an opinion. #DriversAreAthletes
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 16, 2013
The long winded debate about race car drivers being athletes has gone on for years and years with both sides seemingly digging their heels in.
Likely, it comes down to what the personal definition of athlete means.
As somebody who’s driven around a Nascar track at extreme speeds, I can say without a doubt – in my own personal opinion – that race car drivers are athletes. Maybe many drivers don’t conform to the traditional standards of what many view an athlete to be, but you can’t be a slouch athletically to do what they do for 500 miles.
Add in their workout regiments and routines, which are shared by their pit crew who are often former Division I athletes and there’s a pretty solid argument that race car drivers are athletes, despite maybe it not being the most conventional of forms.