NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson: “I choose to stand”

Seven-time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has been the latest of drivers to throw his two cents in on the use of the national anthem as a form of peaceful protest.

With how good the ratings were for the National Football League during the midst of the stand/sit/take-a-knee debate, eyes quickly cast their gaze over to what is yet another quintessentially American form of sport: NASCAR.

Although the statements from the leadership have left much to be desired this many years into recorded human history, there has been at least one shining example of standing up – quite literally – for the right thing to come in the form of Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson went on record earlier this week by offering to share his sentiments regarding a situation that has been rife with everything from fear-mongering to racism and nationalism:

“I’m one that believes that social injustice and racism are absolutely unacceptable. I also believe that we all have freedom of speech.

I do support peaceful protest. Through my upbringing and my childhood, I had grandfathers that served (in the military).

My grandmother served. My brother-in-law served and lost his life serving our country — helping others that served our country.

So, I choose to stand. And I will stand…. We can debate the gray areas of the First Amendment and all work up our opinions. I have mine. I stated mine. I believe in peaceful protests — and I choose to stand.” – Jimmie Johnson

Johnson has always held the image of being an honorable and stand-up guy, perhaps its why his following – while not as large as Dale Earnhardt Jr’s – is such a fervent supporter of the man.

The role of a sports performer in times like these is fascinating. While some may argue that it can be equated to the likes of asking celebrities what their opinion on [insert fad topic here], the fact is that millions turn in to sporting events that feature the national anthem – which serves as the stage for the most public form of protest in America at the moment.

IG TAKEOVER: Sending dad off to work . -@dannybones64 #NASCAR #Brickyard400

A post shared by Jimmie Johnson (@jimmiejohnson) on

Despite the pressure coming from the top down, NASCAR would do well to put those with the attitude and moral fiber of Johnson front and center over the coming weeks. Something tells us that the debate is far from over, and that history won’t look favorably upon any entity that stood in the way of progress.