By Dr. Matthew Williams |
America is facing very hard economic times right now with inflation at a record high, gas prices at an all-time high, and to add to this, a slipping sense of American pride. It is like we are turning back the clock to the 1980s when America was facing some of the same issues. During that period, Americans focused on the 1980 United States Men’s Hockey team. This hockey team was made up of a bunch of college boys who were not predicted to play much of a spoiler in the 1980 Olympic Games. But they did, and they went on to beat Russia’s hockey team, and win the Gold Medal. This event helped some Americans find pride once again when the team won the Gold Medal and ultimately turned their focus away from the difficult times they were faced with.
The American fan has always had a love for sports that brings a connection while gathering with family, old friends, and new friends that create long-lasting relationships. The American fan can help people in need at sporting events. The help can consist of donations, raffles, poker runs, auction items, clothing sales, donations, and so on. A great example of this is a group known as DEGA Nation that travels from Louisiana to Talladega, Alabama twice a year to attend the NASCAR Talladega Races. DEGA Nation travels 600 miles round trip and spends seven hours setting up their multiple spot sites. But before DEGA Nation even leaves for Talladega they spend many weeks of preparation before they even get to the race. DEGA Nation has been doing this for the past thirty years. They are located in the infield on Eastaboga Blvd. The DEGA Nation group raises funds through clothing sales, poker runs silent auction items and donations. All the funds raised are then given back to those who are less fortunate in their community.
When asked why they do it, the DEGA Nation’s response is because they are passionate about helping people in need or less fortunate while enjoying seeing others having fun at their site and donating money for their causes. Especially in the difficult economic times, we are currently in.
During the pandemic, NASCAR races were an event that many fans could enjoy bringing them pride and a sense of normalcy. Just as we have seen in the past, American fans can attend sporting events to help them reduce the focus on the rough economic times. In addition, to helping out people who are in need. Just like DEGA Nation does twice a year.
Dr. Matthew Williams is an Associate Professor of Sport Management at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and is an avid NASCAR fan.