As public outcry regarding the Confederate flag reached an apex after the tragic murder of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, many members of the sports community have come out in support of its banishment.
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South Carolina Cleared to Bid on NCAA Championship Events
Thursday, July 9
Dan Wolken of USA Today reported the NCAA has announced South Carolina is eligible to bid to host championship events following the South Carolina House's decision to remove the confederate flag.
NASCAR and Tracks Ask Fans to Stop Displaying Confederate Flag
Wednesday, July 2
NASCAR released a statement on the matter signed by tracks that host the Xfinity, Sprint Cup and Camping World races, (via Nate Ryan of NBC Sports).
As members of the NASCAR industry, we join NASCAR in the desire to make our events among the most fan-friendly, welcoming environments in all of sports and entertainment.
To do that, we are asking our fans and partners to join us in a renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events. This will include the request to refrain from displaying the Confederate Flag at our facilities and NASCAR events.
We are committed to providing a welcoming atmosphere free of offensive symbols. This is an opportunity for NASCAR Nation to demonstrate its sense of mutual respect and acceptance for all who attend our events while collectively sharing the tremendous experience of NASCAR racing.”
NASCAR chairman Brian France previously spoke to Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press regarding the Confederate flag's presence at races, saying: "We want to go as far as we can to eliminate the presence of that flag," France said. "I personally find it an offensive symbol, so there is no daylight how we feel about it, and our sensitivity to others who feel the same way."
Obviously, we have our roots in the South, there are events in the South, it's part of our history like it is for the country. But it needs to be just that, part of our history. It isn't part of our future.
We want everybody in this country to be a NASCAR fan, and you can't do that by being insensitive in any one area.
France's comments come on the heels of a June 23 statement from NASCAR that reiterated its ban on the use of the Confederate flag in official use at its tracks.
"NASCAR supports the position that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley took on the Confederate flag on Monday," the statement said. "As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity."
The statement comes less than a week after Dylann Roof was charged with killing nine people in a mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. As the country mourned the senseless tragedy, additional attention was brought to the Confederate flag that flies at the South Carolina state capitol building.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the flag's removal at a June 22 news conference. By law, it will take a two-thirds vote by state representatives to have the flag, which many see as a symbol of racial hatred, taken down.
"The murderer, now locked up in Charleston, said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening," Haley said, per Elisha Fieldstadt of NBC News. "My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move our state forward in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven."
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled Texas could ban use of the Confederate flag on custom license plates. Lawyers for the Native Americans who filed a trademark lawsuit against the Washington Redskins cited that ruling Tuesday as they continue to work against the NFL franchise regaining the copyright, per an Associated Press report.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell, who grew up in Charleston, was one of many athletes to speak out on how the situation affects him.
"I remember just about every car had the Confederate flag when I was young," Maxwell told Robert Klemko of the MMQB.com. "It's something they're proud of. If those things are still flying, how far have we really come? They want to say, it's not hate, it's heritage. But hate is the most important part of that heritage."
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.