So far, NASCAR’s anthem protest positions has been all over the board. Two owners have threatened to fire any employee who protests during the anthem. Two of the sports biggest names — Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson — have come out on favor of peaceful protests. NASCAR itself issued a short statement saying it, too, supported peaceful protests, but stopped short of making any further proclamations.
Now, the NBA has come out with a very strong statement that says it expects its players to follow long established rules and stand at attention during the anthem.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, said in part, “the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem.”
Now, granted, the NBA and NASCAR are different. The NBA is governed by a standard set of rules that cover all teams ,and a collective bargaining agreement with its players, which NASCAR is made up of individual owners who can run their teams as they see fit.
Still, it might be helpful for NASCAR to bring some clarity to how it expects its teams to behave.
Additionally, individual NBA teams “do not have the discretion to waive” the rule that players, coaches and staff stand for the anthem, ESPN reported. The league can discipline players who violate the rule, and sources told ESPN the league doesn’t want individual teams punishing players.
The memo also went on to detail other ways players can protest that doesn’t include action during the anthem.