Pro tip…… Don’t piss off your fan base!
NASCAR officially banned the Confederate flag on Wednesday. It will no longer be allowed to appear in regard to any of its corporate properties and fans won’t be able to bring any iconography that might stoke racial tensions or a suspect “yee-haw” from the crowd.
For years, the sport has made unsuccessful efforts to broaden its appeal, so this is hardly a surprise given everything else that’s going on. In fact, an unofficial initiative attempted to ban the flag back in 2015. It never went anywhere, though, and fans continued to arrive with the Stars and Bars in roughly the same numbers.
This time around, the corporate stance is much stronger, and with more public support behind it. Additionally, NASCAR has decided that racing teams will no longer be obligated to stand for the American flag (the supposedly better one) during the national anthem.
While the banned flag holds little cultural significance to me as a Northerner, the cynic in me knows this is about a corporation covering its ass and not wanting to be held responsible for the actions of its fans. Racism will assuredly be on the lips of organizers, but blowback in the media will be the concept at the front of everybody’s mind.
Thanks to cancel culture, we’re living in a time where personal accountability is borderline nonexistent, but you can always hold someone else accountable for basically whatever you want. We doubt NASCAR will enforce its rule all that stringently, as anyone who has ever been to a super speedway race knows about twenty campers show up adorned with rebel iconography at every single event. It also doesn’t seem to have any plan for enforcing the flag’s prohibition, just a mandate for its patrons.
“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”NASCAR
The corporate line borders on the apolitical, but there was enough wiggle room to incite the kind of conflict NASCAR probably hoped to avoid. Initially, most seemed to not mind the fact that the South won’t rise again over any American speedway — there was even some vocal praise. But then you started seeing people claiming they were finished with the sport, saying prohibiting the flag was overt political censorship, or un-American. NASCAR truck series driver Ray Ciccarelli said he would bow out permanently at the end of the current season.
“Well its been a fun ride and dream come true but if this is the direction NASCAR is headed we will not participate after 2020 season is over……..I don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love. I could care less about the Confederate Flag but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is f—ing one group to cater to another and I ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!! So everything is for SALE!!”Ray Ciccarelli
NASCAR Truck Series Driver
The page has since been taken down by the author or deleted by Facebook. His Twitter page also doesn’t appear to exist anymore.
NASCAR’s only black driver working full time, Bubba Wallace, praised the decision to ban the Confederate flag.
“Props to NASCAR and everybody involved……….It creates doors and allows the community to come together as one.”Bubba Wallace