Recently, it was announced that the National Rifle Association would be sponsoring the Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. At first glance, it seems like a match made in heaven. A race held in the state of Texas will be sponsored by a national organization that supports proper gun training and citizens' rights to bear arms. The connection alone rivals that of peanut butter and jelly.
So, what is the problem?
Although guns are virtually a lifestyle in the South, recent events have made gun control a hot topic issue, and rightfully so. Fiery debates continue to rage in Washington D.C. regarding whether or not stricter laws on gun control should be enabled or not, and the matter is a dividing one. But how should this play into NASCAR?
It shouldn't. It has no place in NASCAR.
After reading that statement, many will be quick to say that that is nonsense. NASCAR is a Southern sport. It is a "redneck sport." To avoid a hasty generalization, many might say that most rednecks enjoy their guns as well and that the NRA sponsoring the April event at Texas Motor Speedway is a good thing.
However, for a sport striving to be a progressive business, the relationship is a setback. It wasn't that long ago that NASCAR made it clear that it didn't want to be just a "redneck sport." Granted, its roots were not to be forgotten, but NASCAR was right in saying that it has a little something for everyone. How else would the fanbase be as loyal as it is?
The "redneck sport" issue arose not too long ago in the Nationwide scandal involving Jeremy Clements. After allegedly using a racial epithet in an interview, Clements was slapped with an indefinite suspension. Internet boards lit up hard and fast with individuals who argued that the word uttered wasn't used in spite, while many more argued that something like that should be expected of NASCAR because it is a "redneck sport."
In cases like that, being classified a "redneck sport" does more harm than good. And getting into an alliance with the NRA, especially at this point in time, does not help things.
Now, NASCAR fans come from all walks of life. They come from every income level, every religion, every skin color and even every political stance. They come ready for race weekend, united as a whole to watch their favorite drivers throw down for a victory. All troubles forgotten for at least a little while, they come together as comrades to be entertained.
That's what NASCAR is about: entertaining the fans while the performers risk life and limb to achieve glory. Why ruin that with a controversial sponsor that sponsored the race more or less as a single-digit salute to those in Washington D.C.? Why stir up trouble between the fans who are divided on the issue? It defeats the purpose of what goes on at a racetrack.
Racing is art. Art and politics do not mix.