During the opening ceremonies of the Orlando Supercross, AMA referee, I mean, Director of Supercross/Motocross Steve Whitelock announced that the sanctioning body was “temporarily retiring” the number 4 in honor of Ricky Carmichael’s unimaginably successful racing career. Most murmured their appreciation, while a few (like myself) scratched our collective heads and wondered how anything can be “temporarily retired.”
Well, fear not! The AMA has issued a press release (found here at Racer X Online) that explains exactly how it’s possible. Said Mr. Whitelock, “With so few single digit numbers available it’s impractical for us to permanently retire a competitor’s racing number. However, given Ricky’s accomplishments in the sport, we’re comfortable reserving his number through 2011.”
Which, of course, begs the question: what will make the AMA “uncomfortable” in 2012 or later? And how can they be so sure that “discomfort” won’t set in any earlier?
Yes, I am picking knits and once again poking fun at the AMA, but only because they make it so easy! And besides, I’ve never felt that the so-called “permanent” numbering scheme benefited the sport; it has only really worked for a handful of big-name riders… like Ricky Carmichael, who once again finds himself receiving unprecedented favorable treatment from the sanctioning body.
Did RC earn the right to have his number retired? Actually, he earned the right to wear the big number 1, as far as I’m concerned. And now that he has turned “…his attention to auto racing…” (as it says in the press release), it’s time for him to put his motocross things away.
Well, after the Outdoors and the MXdN, that is.