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NASCAR expected to ban all political sponsorship amid latest controversy

NASCAR rejected the sponsorship deal Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown signed with cryptocurrency LGBcoinGETTY IMAGES

NASCAR is "poised to ban political sponsorships" as soon as next week in an effort to avoid controversies like the one around Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown and his deal with LGBCoin.com, according to Adam Stern of SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The racing circuit initially looked at such a ban in the summer of '20 amid the "pandemic and a social justice reckoning, but ended up not implementing the policy for 2021." However, it has been "caught up in controversy around the sponsorship Brown's team signed but NASCAR later rejected." Industry execs indicated that they will be "interested to see the wording of the policy." Some execs believe that a full ban "could have a split reaction." Some of the biggest teams and sponsors likely will be "happy to see political sponsorship banned to squelch controversy." However, some "mid-level to smaller teams that are less likely to worry about political controversy and just need sponsorship money may not be as receptive" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/10 issue).

SLIPPERY SLOPE: FOXSPORTS.com's Bob Pockrass reported while NASCAR has had its share of sponsor controversies and conflicts in the past, a shift to "potentially not approving sponsorships if they are political in nature could be more difficult to navigate." Former Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, who was in the middle of the sponsorship debate when the NRA sponsored a race at the track, said, "It gets to be a very sticky wicket for everybody. That's where it gets to be difficult for NASCAR or a league to say, 'These things we don't allow' because there are certain things that don't certainly fall in there, and it becomes a judgement call -- and then the sanctioning body or the league gets accused of taking a political position." Pockrass noted the NASCAR rule book is "quite open-ended and somewhat vague when it comes to its policies." That wording "gives NASCAR much leeway -- and doesn't necessarily provide much guidance to potential sponsors who might be coming into the sport for the first time" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/6).

FAIR & BALANCED: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes NASCAR "should be applauded for saying 'No' this week to a request to monetize the abhorrent 'Let's Go Brandon' catchphrase." A sport that is "busily trying to diversify in the 21st century should never allow a slogan that is coded criticism for 'F--- Joe Biden' onto a car." Fowler: "This isn't about on which side of the political spectrum you fall." If a phrase that meant "F--- Donald Trump" became popular, that "shouldn't be part of an athletic sponsorship for NASCAR or any other sport, either." The presidential office "should be respected, for one thing, but there's also this: The inherent meanness in such a phrase demeans us all." If drivers want to personally support certain political candidates, they "should be allowed to do that." However, to "adopt a catchphrase that euphemistically tells the sitting president to 'F---' himself just to make money" is "ridiculous" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/7).

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