Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - To Everything There is a Season even at 128 MPH

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago (he has recently resurfaced on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles), I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Last week, a story broke about Kyle Busch, a NASCAR driver who was clocked driving at 128 mph. For NASCAR, this would be rather pedestrian as drivers on a track like Talladega regularly drive at speeds in the neighborhood of 200 mph. However, Busch was not clocked at 128 on a track. Instead, Busch was pulled over by a police officer for driving 128 in a 45 mph zone. For reasons known only to the officer, Busch was not arrested and the car was not impounded. Instead, Busch was only given a ticket and must show up to Court.

When I first heard the story, I admit that I chuckled. Since NASCAR drivers are used to driving at speeds between 100 and 200 miles per hour, Busch was well equipped to handle the speed of his vehicle. But when I thought more about it, I realized how dangerous and irresponsibly Busch had acted. Unlike NASCAR tracks which are constructed to handle cars travelling at high rates of speed, the average two lane highway or interstate is not built for cars travelling 200 mph.

There is another factor which makes Busch's actions even more reckless. On a professional race course, the drivers are trained in anticipating and reacting to other cars and the rate of speed that they travel. On the highway, if a car is approaching at nearly three times the speed limit, who knows what the average driver would do when he saw that car approaching?

Having reviewed all this in my head, I decided that while the story was cute, I hope that the Judge throws the book at Busch. I am unaware of whether a NASCAR driver can drive in a race if his state license is suspended, but if the trade off is his ability to work vs. the safety of everyone else on the road, then let him lose his paycheck for a few months. If he was anyone else, he would be looking at the possibility of real jail time (also resulting in the loss of a few paychecks).

The question of whether a person can say, I know that the rules (in this case the speed limit) exist for a reason, but they don't apply to me in my situation, reminded me of a story from Shmuel II which is read as the haftorah for Parshas Shemini. The navi relates that David Hamelech had organized a celebration as the ark was being transported to its permanent home in Jerusalem. The ark was being carried on a wagon and when it shifted, the ark looked as if it might fall off. Uzah was worried that the ark would fall and he reached towards it. However, Hashem had commanded that no one should touch the ark and as such Uzah died when he reached to steady it. While Uzah may have had good intentions in believing that the law did not apply in his scenario, he was still breaking the commandment which was - don't touch the ark. On a somewhat similar vein, the county/state speed limits don't apply on a racetrack and if Busch wanted to try out this new car before purchasing it (the "excuse" for his driving at the time he was ticketed) he could have driven it as fast as he wanted to "at work". However, once Busch was on the open road, surrounded by non-professional drivers, he needed to realize that the speed limit exists for a reason.

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