The NFL has erupted in national anthem protests following Trump’s recent remarks that players who choose to kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner” should be fired. While team owners and league decision-makers are presently siding with the protesters, the situation is very different at NASCAR.
According to Independent Journal Review, NASCAR team owners are putting Trump’s suggestion into practice by warning that their employees will be dismissed if they protest the national anthem. Richard Petty, race team owner, stated, “Anybody that won’t stand up for the anthem ought to be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”
Petty is one of the most prominent voices hitting back over the NFL “kneeling” controversy. He is a Hall of Fame driver and owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. In the opinion of the NASCAR legend, athletes should express respect for the country that afforded them the opportunity to lead a successful life. When pressed to answer whether he would fire protesters, the NASCAR team owner flatly replied, “you’re right.”
Another NASCAR owner, Richard Childress, was more specific about how he would handle racers who fail to stand for the national anthem. “It’ll get you a ride on a Greyhound bus,” he said. Childress went on to argue that standing for the national anthem is a way of respecting fallen vets.
The NASCAR owner said, “Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.” No national anthem protests were seen at the NASCAR Cup Series race in Loudon, New Hampshire on Sunday.
President Trump took to Twitter early Monday to praise NASCAR owners for their stance, writing, “They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!”
NASCAR is often perceived as a staunchly pro-American institution. Many racers are from the South, and the themes of patriotism and respect for the American flag resonate with NASCAR audiences. It’s a different atmosphere than the one we see in other mainstream sports.
Even Major League Baseball is beginning to follow the lead of the NFL’s national anthem protests. As MSN reports, rookie A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the national anthem at a game on Saturday. Prior to the highly-publicized act of protest, the baseball player wrote a scathing critique of President Trump on Instagram.
The A’s catcher wrote, “Yeah, f- this guy! Our president speaks of inequality of man because players are protesting the anthem! F- this man! Seriously on the highest platform for our country expressing that it is OK for there to be division of man and rights!”
Maxwell argued on Twitter that the kneeling has moved beyond “Black Lives Matter” and involves “the inequality of any man or woman that wants to stand for Their rights!”
The NFL protesters met with mixed reactions from the crowd. As NBC News notes, a large number of fans at Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots games booed the kneeling players on Sunday. Trump came out in support of the fans who voiced their discontent.
As Deadline reports, NFL ratings were down on Monday, suggesting fans are tuning out in response to the protests.