Panther Racing principal John Barnes found that out the hard way today when he was fined 25 grand for the following Twitter post the other night:
@Jbindy4: Today is the day to resolve TURBOGATE! I hope @indcar gets their act together. It has been embarrassing.
Already as expected the comparisons between IndyCar and the police state that is NASCAR have begun. But before we do that, let's get one thing straight: in the bylaws of almost every professional sport is a section that states if you publicly criticize the powers-that-be, you get fined.
Period. End of story.
I'm with Barnes in his frustration about the Honda turbo controversy. Giving Honda the right to make alterations to its engine (turbo) package in-season is BS and IndyCar should have told them to go back and try harder next season.
I also support his right to speak his mind. That said, IndyCar was right to do what it did. In the NBA, NFL or MLB if you criticize officials, the league or its higher-ups, your check will be a little lighter the next time it hits your bank account. So how is this different?
The other thing about these "fines" is that they are more symbolic in nature anyway. With the ridiculous amount of money floating around these days, the fines are as much of a public acknowledgement of who is in charge than anything. John Barnes is a rich man $25K doesn't hurt, just like the same amount Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose was nailed for a few weeks ago for criticizing officials came out of his pop machine money in a desk drawer somewhere. That, and it goes to charity so they get the tax deduction anyway.
Oh yeah, we have to compare everything that goes on in IndyCar with NASCAR. I forgot. Holy crap we need to knock that stuff off. NASCAR is often wrong with how it handles criticism, and we all know that. It's childish and petty. But this is apples to oranges stuff and was done the right way. My guess is Barnes had a check ready for what he knew was coming.
He was directly critical of IndyCar, and there isn't a sports organization in the league that lets you get away with that. So let's put this to bed and leave it at that.