USA TODAY Sports
As athlete protests during the national anthem continued to dominate the national conversation, NASCAR officials weighed in Monday.
Protests by NFL players were widespread Sunday after President Trump’s speech in Alabama on Friday that implored the league’s owners to fire players who refused to stand during the national anthem. But the president singled out praise for NASCAR on Monday morning, further entrenching the sport into the political divide after some NASCAR team owners said Sunday they would terminate employees who knelt during the anthem.
“So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans,” Trump tweeted. “They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!”
In a statement released Monday, NASCAR praised its long-held tradition of the anthem’s place in its pre-race ceremonies but also affirmed the right of peaceful protest:
“Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together. Our respect for the national anthem has always been a hallmark of our pre-race events. Thanks to the sacrifices of many, we live in a country of unparalleled freedoms and countless liberties, including the right to peacefully express one’s opinion.”
NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. also weighed in Monday, coming out in support of the right to protest.
Earnhardt, who will retire from full-time racing at the end of the season, said on his Twitter account that Americans are “granted rights” to conduct “peaceful protests” and quoted…