NASCAR released a statement about its attitude toward the national anthem and protests against it on Sept. 25 after President Donald Trump praised the organization for its patriotism.
NASCAR's statement followed protests on Sept. 24 by a large number of NFL players during the national anthem at several football games, CBS Sports reported.
NASCAR also indicated its support for different opinions.
"Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together," NASCAR's statement noted, according to CBS Sports. "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."
Trump praised NASCAR on Twitter early on Sept. 25.
"So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans," Trump tweeted, according to CNN. "They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear."
He later mentioned the NFL players who protested, writing, "Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!"
In the lead-up to the NFL protests on Sept. 24, Trump made several calls for players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired.
Trump was accused of racism, as many of the players involved in the protests were black. But he insisted his comments had “nothing to do with race or anything else -- this has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag."
In addition, Trump blamed the NFL protesters for causing the sport to suffer declining ratings. The NFL has seen its viewing figures drop over the past decade.
NASCAR is also experiencing lower ratings, notes CBS Sports.
A number of current and former NASCAR drivers have spoken out on the issue.
"Anybody that don't stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country," said Richard Petty, the NASCAR driver with the most wins in history, according to CBS Sports. "What got 'em where they're at? The United States."
Owner and former driver Richard Childress expressed a similar sentiment when asked about protesting during the anthem.
"It'll get you a ride on a Greyhound bus," Childress said. "Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., consider by some as NASCAR's biggest star, took a different position.
"All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests / Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK," he wrote on Twitter, according to CNN.