Why the NFL’s National Anthem Protests Will Make NASCAR More Popular
For the last decade there has been an underlying story brewing in NASCAR.
Namely, that nobody’s watching.
That might have changed this past weekend.
There are various political cultures that dominate the sports we watch. The NBA is very liberal; the player has domain, even over the franchise if he’s good enough.
The NFL was very conservative. Corporate. Militaristic. The player is popular, sure, but there is more identity to team. Even the players union is weak.
Notice I said, WAS conservative. Before Colin Kaepernick.
What Donald Trump did do by calling out players who kneel for the Star Spangled Banner was pigeonhole a movement by NFL players to have the league promote activism, the same way they promote breast cancer awareness.
And having the NFL fund activism speaks of either a cultural change in the NFL unlike any we’ve seen in sports before or a chaotic occurrence, much like when corporations gave occupy protesters a place to camp.
But fans are already turning on the NFL. It’s not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, but there are plenty of signs of cracks; player safety, anthem protests, franchise relocations, players who fans either can’t relate to (Tom Brady with five Super Bowl rings and Gisele Bunchen as his wife) or you don’t want to (Odell Beckham impersonating a urinating dog after scoring a touchdown).
Where will the conservative sports fan turn to? My guess is NASCAR.
Both Richard Childress and Richard Petty stating if anyone on their race teams didn’t stand for the anthem would be fired will resonate with many people.
NASCAR has always been perhaps the most right-wing of all the American sports. Its history has quelled attempts at creating unions, it rose to prominence on the backs of tobacco money, and frankly its early years spoke of rugged individualism when the drivers were their own race teams.
But in recent years NASCAR tried to get away from this image. And that has eroded its popularity, resulting in such low attendance the sport doesn’t even release the figures anymore.
Nobody know how much longer kneeling for the anthem is going to be a “thing.” But the longer it is, and the more NASCAR disdains the movement, the more popular the sport will become.
Marky Billson hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities weekdays from 12–2 p.m. ET, which can be heard on IHeartRadio & TuneIn.