LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Being an agent of change in NASCAR cuts both ways for Bubba Wallace.
He is seen as a hero to some, particularly those who have longed for a Black driver to shake things up in a predominantly white sport. To others, the 26-year-old Wallace represents something else entirely and he has seen plenty of haters out on social media over his career. It has intensified in recent days.
He has brushed them off, especially the ones accusing Wallace or his No. 43 team of being involved in a hoax, of somehow being behind the garage door pulldown rope fashioned as a noose that was found in their garage stall at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.
“You quickly realize,” Wallace said, “they don’t give a damn about you and I don’t give a damn about them.”
It has been a remarkable and exhausting three weeks for Wallace since he helped spark NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its races and venues. That is seen as a sea change for the 72-year-old stock car series with its core Southern fan base, but then came the noose and a federal investigation that ultimately determined Wallace had not been the target of a hate crime.
He’s been besieged with media requests and made the rounds on morning talk shows and chatted with late night hosts. Wallace even unified the sport when every one of the 40 teams on the grid lined up with Wallace and their series in an effort to show they do not and will not tolerate racism.
The face of a movement is a tough haul for anyone, especially when he stands as the lone Black driver at the top level of NASCAR.
“It’s just what I feel in my heart, what feels right,” Wallace said Friday. “I’m finally voicing my opinion on the tough subjects that a lot of people are afraid to touch on. I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I’ve done it and gotten in trouble and learned from it. People that know me, I’m 100% raw and real.”
It’s part of his appeal, and why a small number of Black fans rushed the fence and cheered for Wallace after he finished 14th at Talladega. He wants more Black fans in NASCAR — he said his social media following has exploded and scores of famous fans like LeBron James have offered support – and said he is ready to lead the charge.
He would also like some of his newfound fame to lead to more sponsorship to fund the No. 43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsports. He’s not going to change his approach for them.
“Ever since I’ve been speaking out, I haven’t been thinking about my sponsors,” Wallace said. “I’ve been thinking about me being a human being and standing up for what’s right. I would hope that sponsors would see that and back me up on that.”
But he’s tired. His free time has been chewed up and life in the spotlight as a national newsmaker has him “wore the hell out” and there are two more races this weekend for a team that has been running well.
“It’s not like I wanted to be in this position or asked to be in this position,” Wallace said. “It just kind of happened.”
He is grateful NASCAR released the photo of the rope; NASCAR President Steve Phelps stated “the noose was real,” though it remains unknown who tied it. Phelps said NASCAR determined the noose was not in place when the October 2019 race weekend began but was created at some point during that weekend.
“We can’t say it was directed toward me, which is good,” Wallace said. “But somebody still knows how to tie a noose. Whether they did it as a bad joke or not, who knows? It was good for the public to see. It still won’t change some people’s minds of me being a hoax. But it is what it is.”
He has received support from NASCAR friends and foes, like fellow driver Aric Almirola who started a text with “we’re not friends and we don’t act like we are” but was ready to stand next to Wallace as a brother. Wallace even had fun on the Talladega grid after drivers pushed his car to the front, joking, “I don’t like half you guys, but I appreciate all of you guys.”
NASCAR is at Pocono Raceway this weekend for Cup Series races on Saturday and Sunday, just one more piece of a grueling schedule where all eyes are on Wallace.
“Let’s get away from what happened at Talladega,” Wallace said. “Let me go out and have some good races, have some bad races, try and figure out what the hell we’re going to do to rebound from those bad races and get back to race car life.”
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Norwich City are proud to announce a three-way alliance that focuses on creating life-changing opportunities for young people from underrepresented backgrounds in the UK.
The alliance will see Bidstack supporting BADU Sports students with the opportunity to attend, train and learn from various teams on the corporate and performance side of Norwich City Football Club. Activities will include attending Norwich City’s Finnish football camp, coaching and sports performance sessions at The Nest, and seminars in marketing, business management and careers in football.
To mark the start of this new partnership, BADU’s logo will be featured on the Canaries’ home and third kits, whilst Bidstack’s logo will feature on the team’s away kit.
BADU Sports’ work is focused on building a mentoring and support network through education and community development programmes – using sports as their main vehicle for engagement. The sports education community group have previously partnered with the FA, London Sport, Loughborough University, Sky, Nike and recently the Mayor of London’s Office to deliver workshops aimed at equipping children and young adults with knowledge and skills, to help further their educational journey and make a positive impact on their working careers later down the line.
Since their pivot from digital-out-of-home advertising to in-game advertising, Bidstack has grown its business from a crowdfunded start-up to a more than 60 people strong PLC business. Bidstack has previously worked with BADU to help increase awareness of the outreach work it does in the local community through in-game advertising activation in the popular game, Football Manager. It is now taking this partnership further with kit sponsorship and connecting the organisation with Norwich City to further develop and grow their educational programmes.
Norwich City has a history of giving back to the community. In 2017, the Canaries worked with the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation to rejuvenate their former home ground, The Nest, into a world class community sports facility. Twelve months later, phase one of the ground’s remodel was complete and was open to the public. Currently a £1m funding-raising campaign is under way to kick start phase two of the project.
Nana Badu, BADU Sports founder and CEO said, “We are absolutely overjoyed to be working with Bidstack and Norwich City football club. It will mean great things for BADU Sports and the community. We have always strived for the very best access and knowledge to develop and empower and this alliance will help realise this for our young people and their families whom we serve. This sends such a strong message about our joint partnership and commitment to bridging the gap of inequality of access and knowledge. The world has experienced challenging times and I am proud that together we have created a roadmap for change.”
James Draper, Bidstack founder and CEO said, “Seeing the work BADU Sports and the Community Sports Foundation have put into furthering the opportunities and lives of local underrepresented people in East London and Norfolk respectively, and given our relationship with Norwich City Football Club – it feels incredible for our team and supporters of Bidstack to bring two organisations together, with this partnership.
“We work tirelessly to ensure that our companies’ existence benefits those who we come into contact with, and this activation sits well with our values – and enables us to say ‘thank you’ to the two communities and the one club – who transformed our company. Thank you to our friends at Norwich City – and to Nana and his team, I’m hoping this will be a transformational partnership for many young lives.”
Ben Tunnell, Norwich City Football Club’s Head of Commercial Development, said, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome back Bidstack to the Club’s partnership portfolio and first-team shirt. It has been to the joy of everyone at Carrow Road seeing the growth of Bidstack since our first partnership in 2016, knowing how important our partnership was for Bidstack in becoming the world’s leading in-game advertising agency.’
“Bidstack gifting the bulk of the Partnership rights to BADU Sports, and presenting Norwich City the opportunity to be a part of their story is remarkable. We cannot wait to get started with Nana Badu and his team and look forward to creating some unforgettable experiences and memories.”’
FC Tulsa’s long-awaited home opener Wednesday against the San Antonio FC was a matchup between two of the United Soccer League’s four undefeated teams.
And both are still undefeated after a 0-0 draw in a game that included almost everything, except a goal, and was followed by fireworks before 2,445 fans who nearly filled ONEOK Field’s socially distanced reduced seating capacity.
FC Tulsa (2-0-3, 9 points) waited nearly five months for its first game this season at ONEOK Field after its initial scheduled home game March 14 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Outstanding, unbelievable,” is how FC Tulsa defender Bradley Bourgeois described the atmosphere.
Added FC Tulsa goalkeeper Sean Lewis, “I thought it was great. The fan base was very enthusiastic. I know we have to keep it limited because of the protocols, but even so it was amazing to be out there in front of them. It was a great experience.”
In its sixth USL season, Tulsa set a team record by allowing no more than one goal in its fifth consecutive game. Lewis has allowed only three goals in five matches and none in the past two.
“We’re really jelling defensively,” Lewis said. “We cover each other well, we’re well organized and you’ve seen the results as far as letting in fewer goals and keeping clean sheets so far.”
Lewis made a dazzling save in the eighth minute as he robbed Luis Solignac from close range. And Lewis made a diving save to deny Gonzalo Di Renza in the 64th minute.
“Sean was strong, consistent, brave,” FC Tulsa coach Michael Nsien said. “They were able to put 15 or 16 crosses in and they started to get a lot of set pieces, and he organized well and kept his space very well and obviously kept a clean sheet, so that’s what goalkeeping is all about.”
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair also was impressive for San Antonio (4-0-2, 14 points), as he came up with clutch saves on shots by Dario Suarez in the 41st and 62nd minutes.
Tulsa is undefeated through five games for the first time in team history and is in second place behind San Antonio in Group D. The top two teams qualify for the playoffs.
“There are some positive things from the match,” Nsien said. “San Antonio is a good team and came here with a lot of momentum. They have good players and are well organized, so for us to get a clean sheet, that’s a positive.
“When it got to about the 60th or 65th minute the game started to open up,” he added. “They were getting set pieces and we were breaking the other way. It’s a little unfortunate that we weren’t able to capitalize on some of those chances in the space we were able to find. It’s good we were able to create, but at home we expect we should be able to put the ball away.”
San Antonio played without its leading scorer, Cristian Parano, who was unavailable. Parano is considered as one of the USL’s top midfielders.
Tulsa plays seven of its remaining 11 games at home, with its next match scheduled at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 against Austin Bold FC at ONEOK Field.
FC TULSA 0, SAN ANTONIO FC 0
Shots: San Antonio 13, Tulsa 12. Saves: San Antonio, St. Clair 3; Tulsa, Lewis 3. A: 2,445.
Ebony Rainford-Brent and Will Greenwood joined Caroline Barker on Sky Sports to take a detailed look at how women’s sport can recover from the coronavirus pandemic
Last Updated: 12/08/20 10:37pm
“Women’s sport has been left on the bench. We have to find a way to get women’s sport back up and running so they can continue to inspire the next generation, to make sure we don’t lose a cohort due to this disastrous cancelled summer.”
The coronavirus pandemic has affected sport across the world, and women’s sport is arguably the most at risk.
Major cycling, football and rugby events have been cancelled or postponed because of the crisis.
In a recent report, MPs warned that the cancellation of these events means women are less likely to be inspired to play sport, while the government has been urged not to sacrifice the women’s game in favour of the men’s.
The future looks uncertain, but is there a way back? Will Greenwood and Ebony Rainford-Brent joined Caroline Barker on Sky Sports for a special programme to discuss the impact of COVID-19.
‘Women’s sport has been left on the bench’
“We’ll come back stronger,” were the words of the FA’s Kelly Simmons within the announcement that the WSL’s final standings would be reached by a basic points-per-game basis.
The final positions in the Tyrrells Premier 15s were calculated on a ‘best playing record formula’ after its season was terminated in March.
At the end of May, the Vitality Netball Superleague had the results of their 2020 matches deemed null and void, and now some clubs are having to reach out to fans in order to try and raise the funds needed to keep them afloat.
“Anyone with a fingernail of common sense can see the role women’s sport plays in our society,” Will Greenwood told The Women’s Sport Debate. “I think what’s happened off the back of COVID-19 is while men have been given VIP access to the stadiums and the funds to get back on the field, women’s sport has been left on the bench and disproportionately so.
“We have to find a way to get women’s sport back up and running so that they can continue to inspire the next generation, to make sure we don’t lose a cohort due to this disastrous cancelled summer.”
‘Women’s sport has commercial power’
Funding for women’s sport also continues to be an issue. Two months after the Premier 15s season was terminated, Tyrrells – the competition’s significant investors – announced their decision to “redirect” their marketing spend “in line with overarching business objectives”.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has criticised the lack of funding for women’s elite sports, and Ebony Rainford-Brent insists women’s sport must make the most of its commercial potential.
“I don’t think we focus on the data enough and what I mean by that is the uplift data, the data that shows how big the market is, how big the potential is to grow the game,” she said.
“Cricket for example over the last year has seen some amazing statistics that to me blow my mind and suggest ‘can we invest more?’
“So an example would be the ICC – 1.1bn video views on the ICC digital channel. Now if you’re a sponsor and you heard that data would you not think straight away ‘there is something to get involved in, there is something moving.’ You think about the 2017 World Cup here we had here in England which had a packed audience as well, on Sky that was the most viewed cricket game that summer.
“I came back from Australia earlier in the year where there was a crowd of 86,000 people watching, one of the most watched female sporting events of all time.
“To make women’s sport commercially viable and to attract sponsors, I don’t think we get the data out there enough. These numbers are powerful. You go to any sponsor and tell them this is what the sport is offering, they would snap your hands off.
“I think under crisis now we need to become super focused about making women’s sport commercially viable on its own. I think we’ve done a brilliant job of bringing it to this place now where the expectation is higher and the visibility is higher, but now more than ever we need to be driving this data to all sponsors so they know that women’s sport may actually offer a better investment.”