The White Zone: My past does not define me

One of my all-time favorite songs is a promotional track to the 2014 film My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, called “My Past is Not Today.”

In the music video to it, Sunset Shimmer stands on the roof of Canterlot High School at the break of dawn (what, you didn’t do that in high school?) and sings about how her lust for power turned her into a monster, both figuratively and literally. It was through the kindness and friendship of Twilight Sparkle that she found a path towards redemption.

There’s one line in the song, used twice, that resonates with me.
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“I may not know what the future holds, but hear me when I say that my past does not define me, cause my past not today.”

Beyond it being the turning point for Sunset Shimmer, and why the plot of Rainbow Rocks should’ve been centered around her, it’s a message that many people need to hear: Don’t let the past define who you are.

If I haven’t alienated 90 percent of the NASCAR fans that read the works of this website, here’s where I tie the lede and nut graphs back to me.

I go into greater detail in a piece I wrote on my personal WordPress page, but six months ago, I was let go from, because my professional conduct on Twitter and in my writing, specifically with how I directed my criticism of race tracks in NASCAR, angered too many people for the wrong reasons.

For the last six months, I did some soul-searching and worked on how to better direct criticism towards race tracks. In short, I learned that criticism works best if the intent of it is to help everyone involved. Which I failed to do in a lot of past pieces, like this one on the All-Star Race.

More importantly, like I said in this piece, I understand that the track presidents and their staff’s do the best they can, within their power, to facilitate a great NASCAR event. Dover International Speedway Mike Tatoian and his staff aren’t to blame for the lackluster Dover race we saw in October. That’s on NASCAR and the Race Team Alliance.

Bottom line, I’ve made mistakes in the past that set my career back for a time and I understand why. I can’t change what I’ve done. All I can do is promise to do better going forward.

And I hope you’ll come with me on this new journey, as I take a fundamentally different approach to covering NASCAR, as well as IndyCar.

I don’t want to tell the same old race recap you’ve all seen before. Instead, I want to delve into how and why a driver performed the way he did in a race and give you a look at the moments you don’t get to see on television, as my coworker Angela Campbell did with Darrell Wallace Jr.’s runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 in 2018.

Basically, as my sportswriting professor and College Sports Editor for USA TODAY Network Tennessee, Phil Kaplan, put it, bringing the human element into the story makes it less weighted on what happened in the event.

If this sounds familiar, it’s the ethos for many writers at The Athletic, from whom I take great inspiration.

With that said, I’ll still write columns, like I’m doing here, because I have many strong opinions on NASCAR.

How all this will play out, time will tell. From this point forward, however, my past sins won’t define who I am.

And before I sign off, I’m grateful for for giving me another chance to write for them.

That’s my view, for what it’s worth.

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My name is Tucker White. I'm currently majoring in journalism at the University of Tennessee. I started getting into NASCAR around 1998 and started following the sport full-time in 2001. I live and breathe everything related to NASCAR. I also have a burning passion for all things auto racing. I've been following Formula 1 since 2011 and am slowing getting into IndyCar. I do my best to keep up with the World Endurance Championship. But at the end of the day, NASCAR is my primary beat. Being both a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and a student at UT, I'm naturally a die-hard Tennessee Volunteers fan. Especially when it comes to Tennessee Volunteers football. While I'll never stop being one, it can be the most heart-wrenching thing ever. Since 2005, this team has delivered more than its fair share of heartbreaking moments and inhuman frustration. I've stuck with the Vols from the best of times - 1998 National Champions - to the worst of times - 2005 to present - because I know that it'll make it all so worth it when the mighty Vols finally return to the top of the college football landscape. In the last few years, I started to really get into baseball. This past season, I decided to pledge my sporting allegiance to the Atlanta Braves. It didn't turn out too well as they finished 67-95 and finished fourth in the NL East. I do see great potential with the young roster and they might be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.


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