During a time when racial tensions are at an all-time high with the Black Lives Matter movement, NASCAR made a point to show it will protect its own, even if it will cost some fans.
NASCAR announced it would ban the Confederate flag from all of its events and properties in hopes of providing fans with a more welcoming and inclusive environment.
It was a move that came just two days after Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’S only full-time African American driver in NASCAR’S Cup Series, publicly asked NASCAR officials to ban the Civil War flag entirely.
Before announcing an official ban last week, NASCAR attempted something similar in 2015, which ended up failing. Five years ago, NASCAR politely asked its fans to refrain from displaying the Confederate flag at its facilities and events.
It even offered for fans to trade in their Confederate flags for brand new American flags; yet there were hardly any takers. As a result, fans continued to display the Confederate flag proudly.
So, being that fans have gone against NACAR’s wishes by still displaying the flag at events during the past five years, it’s no surprise some of the fanbase is upset with the official ban.
Regardless, it’s a decision the sport should have made a long time ago, even before 2015.
Although the flag represents Southern heritage to some with its symbols — red being the blood of Christ, the white border being the protection of God, the “X” cross of St. Andrew’s Cross and the stars representing the 11 Southern states that seceded and two neutral states — it is also widely recognized as a flag that represents racism and the side of the American Civil War that was hoping to hold on to slavery.
That being said, no one should have to pay for an event where they might feel uncomfortable because of a flag and what it represents. It’s not that simple to tell those offended by it to not attend. People of all races are racing fans, and they all should be able to feel comfortable while attending a NASCAR event.
People have to remember the Confederacy only lasted from 1861-65. It’s not a flag that should be waved so proudly because in the end, they lost and failed to achieve the goals they were fighting for.
If you want to be proud about your Southern heritage, find something else to represent it while attending an event. It’s not as though the Confederate flag is the only symbol that represents Southern heritage. It’s not the end of the world because you can’t wave it around at a racing event.
On the other hand, I realize many people will not agree, which is why there have been so many long-time fans who already have expressed their disappointment with NASCAR’s decision. As a result of their displeasure, it has left some individuals to believe NASCAR’s ratings could take a huge hit, something that has been a problem for the sport in recent years already.
However, I believe deciding to ban the Confederate flag will allow a more comfortable experience for some fans as well as open new doors for a more diverse fan base in general.
In fact, in a sport that is dominated by the South, many individuals across the country of all races have been coming out in support of NASCAR’s tough decision and voiced they will give the sport a shot.
For example, we already have seen professional athletes such as New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara join the movement by attending his first racing event, NASCAR’s Dixie Vodka 400, in support for Wallace on Sunday.
Perhaps there will be many more to follow Kamara, and NASCAR can see an increase in viewership instead of continuing its gradual decline since hitting its peak in 2005.