Coach Joe Gibbs shares thoughts on national anthem protests

By John Haverlin

September 25, 2017

LOUDON, N.H.—While Week 3 of the NFL season saw players across the league peacefully protest during pre-game ceremonies, not a single knee was on the ground for the American and Canadian national anthems sung before the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Before the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs began, some team owners, including Richard Petty, Richard Childress and Chip Ganassi shared their opinions on the matter, which were featured in a story by USA Today.

Team owner and former NFL head coach Joe Gibbs was asked by The Racing Experts after the race, won by his driver and playoff contender Kyle Busch, what his organization’s philosophy is regarding the controversy.

The three-time Super Bowl champion said respecting the American Flag and “The Star-Spangled Banner” is important, although he was not as brash with his comments as other owners.

“Well, I think for us, obviously I can’t speak for everybody on our race team, so much has been sacrificed for our country and for our flag,” Gibbs said. “We really feel that heart-to-heart that most people who are with us — it’s just a big deal for us to honor America.

NASCAR is known to be a patriotic industry. Every race weekend hosts active U.S. Military guests at the track and flyovers at the conclusion of the national anthem.

The sport also pays tribute to military members with NASCAR Salutes and cars display windshield banners with the names of individuals who have served.

“That’s the way we look at it and I’m proud of how we represent ourselves and I’m proud of this sport, too,” Gibbs said. “I think this sport has a certain way they look at things, and I really appreciate that.”  

On Monday, NASCAR released a statement on the national anthem protest.

“Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together,” the statement said. “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.”


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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