Jimmie Johnson as most influential….really?
Tom Brady? Kobe Bryant? LeBron James?
It’s easy to assume that the biggest names in sports are clearly the most influential, I mean they have to be…right? What about guys who make their fame for consistently driving in circles trying to avoid crashing into one another when thousands of rednecks cheer while drinking beers atop their campers?
That’s right, in a recent study by Forbes Magazine, NASCAR drivers are apparently the most influential athletes in America, by far. This is even more surprising considering that this isn’t even the sports best year, with NASCAR ratings and promotions peaking in the early 2000s. Still, though, it’s hard to imagine how drivers can replace the names of football stars that seem to be in the news daily, and not just on Sundays or Mondays.
Jimmie Johnson actually topped the findings as most influential this year, which may not seem surprising to anyone who follows NASCAR. But really, what’s more impressive is how he was able to do this, through no real work of his own. Let me explain.
If you analyze it further, you’ll realize that Johnson, at least this year, is a beneficiary of great luck and disenfranchised fans. For example, take the looming NFL lockout. Even though sports fans now hear names like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning nearly every day, it’s not in a positive connotation, which demeans them. Also take into account the fact that Tiger Woods seemed to fall flat on his face in recent years, costing him sponsorships and the hearts of millions of Americans. Add to all of this the fact that Lance Armstrong retired, Olympic athletes lost their lingering appeal, steroids in baseball and the NBA’s emergence of power groups instead of individuals, and it’s not so surprising that Johnson takes the reigns this year of America’s most influential athlete.
Congrats to Jimmie, though, and here’s to hoping that American sports pick up a little to challenge him for next year. But considering Dale Earnhardt Jr. also made the top-five, Johnson may want to be looking over his shoulder instead of outside his own sport for next year’s “most influential” list. Still, though, there’s hope for those of us not too enthralled with racing automobiles, as Tom Brady did rank number two, and in a complete shocker, Shaq racked up spot number four.