By T.J. Buffenbarger
The news of Robert Ballou being penalized by USAC and suspended for the remained of the 2018 season after “several discussions” about previous incidents coming to a head after Ballou made comments about Eldora Speedway track conditions at Eldora Speedway turned into a hot topic the instant it was posted.
Ballou is well known for his brash statements, maybe as much as his driving ability at times. Often those comments are highly entertaining but can be cutting and often are done with little to no filter.
There is also a lesson to learn on both sides of this.
Being able to have a soap box in my late teens by creating this website I’ve said plenty of outlandish things over the years. When you have that medium, you learn quickly that those comments also have consequences.
Could I find something to complain about at virtually every race I go to? Absolutely. I’ve become a prickly 40-something that likes to be typing my post-race reports at a decent hour. Instead I find more enjoyment to coat some of the issues with humor in a fashion that is not offensive or pick and choose my battles, saving the outrage for moments that are truly worth fighting for.
I’ve made many a promoter or series official less than thrilled with me at times. After several incidents I felt that were from a lack of basic planning one track brought on what I felt was one of those moments worth fighting for. Afterwards officials from that facility relayed a message through a friend of mine that worked there at the time I wasn’t welcome to return (which wasn’t a problem because I never planned on going back anyway and have yet to return).
When I posted that opinion story I did so knowing what the likely consequence was. I also know that if you are constantly complaining you get labeled as such. Eventually the message grows tired and people don’t want to be around you anymore. I’m not trying to be a ever glowing ray of sunshine, but I also have learned to pick my battles to have a positive impact.
Saturday may have been one of those moments for Ballou. The problem is when you complain too much your voice weakens or people tire of dealing with the message. Its apparent that USAC was tired of the noise.
When mentoring younger co-workers on social media and even e-mail interactions with fellow employees I tell them its okay to write the e-mail but compose it in a different program, so it doesn’t accidently get out, and sit on it for a bit. I can’t tell you how many tweets, e-mails, and stories have made it as far as the drafts without seeing the light of day because I either cooled off or had time to process the situation.
I think series and even employers today can do more to train users on digital interaction. Several years ago, I went to a “soft skills” class as part of my job and learned various ways on how to more effectively communicate through mediums like e-mail so the message isn’t misconstrued or gets the point across.
I enjoy the saying, “You can do anything once.” When posting items like that you must be mindful of the potential consequences of your actions and decide if that outcome is worth it.