Gaming should take cues from NASCAR's response to Kyle Larson


It's an absolute fact that any discussion surrounding the business side of esports will eventually get around to the ways in which it is like and unlike traditional sports, and whether or not the former should take all, some, or no cues at all from the latter.

Well, here's one for you: esports, and the video game streaming industry in general, should be paying attention to one particular incident this week of traditional sports responding to a player's blatant racism.

Specifically, the industry ought to be looking at the situation of Kyle Larson, a professional NASCAR racer who, during an iRacing event last week -- NASCAR's current best alternative to live races given the COVID-19 situation -- casually uttered a racial slur over live communications while asking if his fellow drivers could hear him. He thought his mic wasn't live. It was. It also doesn't matter what he thought, as racism is still racism. The event was live streamed and everyone -- fellow racers and audience members alike -- heard it.

The event was on Sunday. Today is Friday. In that time span, Larson has been dropped by his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, as well as numerous major sponsors: Credit One Bank, McDonald's, Clover, and Chevrolet among them. NASCAR itself suspended Larson indefinitely, and is requiring him to complete sensitivity training before reinstatement. Essentially, Larson can no longer race for NASCAR, is making far less money from it, and has lost the biggest platform he ever had on which to say anything -- racial slurs or otherwise -- to a racing audience.