I never thought I’d live to see the day when a culture war developed with the NFL on one side and NASCAR on the other, but nonetheless, here we are.
While most of the nation’s attention has been on President Donald Trump’s ongoing feud with the NFL, NASCAR has also entered into the political fray. Various NFL owners were supporting their players on Sunday who Trump called out earlier in the week, either through forceful statements opposing the president’s divisive rhetoric or locking arms with them on the field during the anthem.
On the other hand, some NASCAR team owners were taking a vastly different approach.
Richard Childress, who was the owner for Dale Earnhardt Sr’s car for a number of years, intimated he would follow the president’s advice and fire anyone who took the anthem as an opportunity for a peaceful protest. Childress said they could “get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over.” Richard Petty, current owner and greatest driver in the history of the sport, said rather bluntly that anthem protesters “ought to be out of the country.”
Trump has even thrown his support behind NASCAR as the anti-NFL when it comes to protests during the anthem with this tweet on Monday morning.
So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
But with the tide of the sport seemingly going in the same direction, the biggest star in NASCAR is going decidedly against the flow of traffic. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted this message on Monday morning, seemingly throwing his support behind those wishing to peacefully protest injustice during the national anthem.
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017
It shouldn’t come as a shock to see NASCAR as a whole more closely aligned with Trump than any other sport. NASCAR CEO Brian France even came out and publicly endorsed Trump as a candidate during the campaigns and Trump had the endorsement of multiple drivers as well. (Imagine the reaction if Roger Goodell or Adam Silver would have publicly endorsed a candidate in the same manner.) As one might expect, Dale Jr’s mention are a microcosm of the divided society in which we all reside at the moment.
Those facts make it all the more significant that Earnhardt would go against the grain from the majority of people within the sport and even (likely) the majority of fans by speaking out publicly in this way. It just goes to show that no group of people are of one mind on the current debate that’s happening throughout our country.