Sunday, June 29, 2008

'Dem NASCAR Guys Ain't Got Much Use For Book Learnin'

So I'm watching Sportscenter on Sunday morning and the NASCAR highlights come on. Being a Sunday morning, I'm feeling lazy and the idea of changing channels is exhausting, so I decide to ride it out. Thankfully I did because I was treated with a gem from Camping World RV Sales 200-winner Tony Stewart's crew chief Dave Rogers.

Here's what the barely literate Rogers said: "A wise man once said, 'I see so far because I stand on the shoulders of giants'".

Seems innocent enough, so why am I complaining. Well, first, the quote that Rogers attempted (it should read "If I have seen futher it is by standing on the shoulders of giants") wasn't spoken by just some "wise man", it's attributed to Isaac freaking Newton. You know, the guy that is basically the father of physics and calculus, the tools that people smarter than Rogers use to make those cars go so fast. But, surprisingly, referring to one of the greatest geniuses in human history as a "wise man" isn't Rogers biggest mistake.

The problem is that (I think) Rogers was trying to compliment his crew, implying that his (and Tony Stewart's) success is the result of the efforts and sacrifices of every member of his team. That's great and admirable, except that's not even close to reflecting the actual meaning behind Newton's quote. The "giants" quote is almost universally accepted by historians to be the 17th century version of trash talk, with Newton mocking his physically challenged and intellectually inferior rival Robert Hooke. Somehow I don't think this is what Rogers meant to imply about his crew.


Unknown said...

I saw the same thing...when I heard Rogers say it, I thought to myself that it was a good quote referring to the support one's friends can provide. Then I went online to find who this "wise man" was, and discovered Rogers' mistake. Even though he seems to be intellectually challenged, I praise his humbleness and could see how he would think this quote fits.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GoodPointJoe said...

I have to agree with Grant here. While the original context of the quote might have included some sarcasm, the spirit of the comment by Dave Rogers was only that of grace and humility. If Rogers were running for office, if he were asking me to trust him based on his diverse intellect, that'd be a different story. But he's like a trainer for a football team. As long as he keeps the car in tip top shape, and performs well on race day, the historical quotes he uses to express his opinions are relatively inconsequential.

I will say this, though. The way I take the quote is less a way of saying that he owes his success to the rest of his team, and more that he owes his success to those who have come before. Like, Roger Goodell, if he is someday considered a "success," would be standing on the shoulders of Paul Talgiabue, a verifiable giant in the sport. But maybe that's just the way I hear it.

Unknown said...

Intellectually challenged? Interesting comments coming from someone who can't spell the words in the quote. It's "further", not "futher". Even though the quote was not used in the same context as it was when Newton used it, I think the quote was used well and made sense to the people who heard it. While NASCAR used to be filled with nothing but rednecks and hillbillies both in the stands and the pits, it has revolutionized and the people who build those cars are very well educated individuals. Maybe not historians such as yourselves, but well educated engineers. But, way to judge someone based on a little quote. Hope it made you feel better about yourself.


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