news 6 days ago

NASCAR community defends Alex Bowman after media member mocks his anxiety

Sporting News — (Dan Bernstein)

Alex Bowman told his crew he was feeling unwell during Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series playoff race with a spot in the next playoff round in jeopardy.

For most spectators, it was not only understandable for Bowman to have anxiety, but also admirable he was open to sharing it.

One prominent NASCAR media member, though, decided Bowman's mental health should be joked about. He created an #AnxietyAlex hashtag on Twitter. Each of the three times he used the nickname, the backlash from the racing community grew stronger.

Jim Utter, an editor for Motorsports.com, blocked a wave of critics to his remarks from accessing his account but has left up the tweets for several hours after posting. Utter has more than 60,000 followers on Twitter.

UPDATE: Utter issued an apology via Twitter on Monday morning.

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Bowman, by the way, advanced to the Round of 8 with a strong finish to the Bank of America ROVAL 400. But even if he'd faltered down the stretch, the jokes about his mental health would have been in poor taste.

It was reassuring to witness the almost universal negative response to the #AnxietyAlex hashtag. Fans dealing with mental health struggles chimed in to explain why it was harmful, and NASCAR media members and even drivers added their views. A sport more accepting of mental health concerns is, of course, one better for its athletes.

Bowman said after the race that his anxiety had calmed.

"With the race team that (Rick Hendrick) has given me and put me with, all the resources we have, I feel like it was pretty necessary to make the Round of 8," Bowman told reporters of his experience in the car on Sunday. "It means a lot to me and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make that happen."

Here are some of the ways people responded to Utter: