The question is always to speak up or to not speak up. NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski votes for the latter.
While visiting the University of Alabama on Thursday, the championship No. 2 Team Penske Ford driver made his stance known. It’s said in multiple ways – stay in your lane, stick to what you know – but the message is always the same, and it’s one Keselowski doesn’t agree with.
“There is always the ‘stick to sports’ narrative, and I think that’s kind of garbage,” Keselowski said. “That’s a tremendous wasted opportunity and platform to have and to not use in a productive manner.”
Last Sunday, numerous NFL players sat or knelt during the national anthem. The Associated Press counted more than 200 and noted three teams weren’t even on the field during it. There were protests like this before – remember Colin Kaepernick? – but it escalated after President Donald Trump tweeted about how NFL players should be fired or suspended if they refused to stand.
Of course, people reacted. NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and current team owner Richard Petty was one of them.
“Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period,” Petty said, via AP. “What got them where they’re at? The United States.”
Petty went so far as to say he’d fire anyone who didn’t.
“I’m not really surprised by much at all,” Keselowski said. “I do think that some of those takes, whether you’re on one side or the other, probably get taken a little bit out of context.”
New Hampshire Motor Speedway saw all the drivers on their feet last weekend. The next race is Sunday at Dover International Speedway. The Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is a little more than two weeks away.
All eyes will be on NASCAR now, too. Not just the NFL.
“Really, sports are decadent by nature,” Keselowski said. “Some more than others. In motorsports, we burn a lot of fuel. But when you look at that, you ask well why do we do it then? We do it because sports enrich the community. Sports bring people together in ways that really nothing else can besides tragedy, and that’s a powerful tool.”
One that can be used for good and bad, which is evident right now.
When a headline came out in the Huffington Post, “White Athletes Still Standing for The Anthem Are Standing For White Supremacy,” Keselowski admitted his reps wanted him to ignore it. He did the opposite, tweeting Tuesday that he fully supports people’s civil rights and doesn’t want anybody to “fall for the false narrative of choice between patriotism and racism.”
That’s Keselowski’s way of using his platform in a productive manner.
“You look at the foundation of the Olympics, which was to try to keep world wars from happening,” Keselowski said. “You can argue if that was successful or not, but it was done because of the basic context that sports bring people together in a way that enriches their lives and overcomes differences. That’s an amazing thing.”