Why the Confederate Flag Has No Place in Sports
There is a line from the narrator at the beginning of the film Braveheart that says something to the effect of history is written by those who win the wars. Case in point, the War Between the States. While this is perhaps more commonly known as the Civil War, that designation is simply incorrect. A civil war is a war within a country. The southern states had successfully seceded from the Union, established their own government, had their own currency and elected their own president. They were, for all intents and purposes, a separate country. Though, one not acknowledged by the USA.
Once the Union solidified victory after a terribly bloody four-year conflict, they effectively got to say it was a civil war. It sort of became someone saying, “Look, we had it all along,” even though for four years…they did not. During that time, the flag of the Confederate States of America, also known as the stars and bars, became a symbol of rebelling against what they saw as the politically bullying North. It became a symbol of preserving their way of life, of which one aspect was slavery. After all, the North was where all the industry was and where there was industry, there was money and lots of it.
Most Confederate soldiers were too poor to own a slave. Still, their efforts backed a slave-owning nation. One where families could be ripped apart, where individuals could be sold off, prevented from marrying, legally beaten for no reason, and, lastly, worked to death, literally. While slavery wasn’t the sole cause of the War Between the States, it was a major catalyst in the powder keg that lie beneath the country at that time.
Fast-forward a century and a half and the stars and bars still fly, and not just below the Mason-Dixon, but all over this nation. Now while this country provides an immense amount of liberties, some do not fully grasp the concept of Freedom of Expression. Yes, people have every right to fly that flag. However, there are consequences that come with that. If someone flaunts that symbol in the face of an African-American, what kind of message is that person sending? What kind of message do they want to send? Chances are, those answers are one and the same.
NASCAR recently banned flying the CSA Flag at their races. This comes as an enormous shock, especially considering NASCAR is such a heavily-favored sport down south as that is where the sport was born and grew its roots. Then again, which other leagues would need to ban it because it’s being displayed at their events? That is what is known as a rhetorical question, so with that in mind, massive kudos to NASCAR for taking that leap that caused one little known driver in its ranks to walk away from the sport. Goodbye, racist.
In a more recent move, the NCAA stated there will be no collegiate championships in states with the Confederate symbol. The spotlight is now shining very bright on Mississippi. Associated Press writer Ralph D. Russo wrote, “The expanded policy means that even when sites of NCAA events are determined by performance, as they are in sports such as baseball, women’s basketball and lacrosse, Mississippi schools will not be permitted to host.” While one may not imagine Mississippi schools to be big lacrosse competitors, the precedent has been set across the board and the NCAA should be applauded for that move.
There was recently a Twitter follower of former NASCAR driver Ray Ciccarelli, the driver that quit when the league banned the Confederate flag, who tweeted that it seems you can’t have a voice unless it’s on the left. Not true, sir. This is not about liberal or conservative. This is about a symbol that backed the concept of human slavery, a symbol whose nation and military sought to preserve slavery. So when someone states that the Confederate flag represents their heritage, we should promptly question what they mean by that statement. Just as Americans cannot say certain parts of the Constitution should be acknowledged, but this other part shouldn’t be, a southerner, or anyone for that matter, cannot say the CSA flag represents many things but not slavery. Sorry, that’s not how it works. It is all or nothing.
Lastly, there have been many outcries that removing the Confederate flag in sports is an attempt to erase history. If that is what people are thinking, they have missed the point in all of this. In truth, the Confederate flag should and must be preserved and Americans should be educated on what it stood for. The Confederate flag has a place, numerous places in fact. They are called museums and history books. Coincidentally, those are the same places the statues of Confederate generals belong. These were Americans, yes. They were also traitors to the Union and thus the enemy.
So, the next time someone argues why they are not permitted to fly the flag of Dixie high above their motor home at the infield of Talladega or in the parking lot of an Ole Miss game, maybe they should ask themselves how much they would have liked being sold off and worked relentlessly in the fields. How comfortable would they feel having a symbol upholding that thrown in their faces when they simply wanted to attend a sporting event without being visually harassed and reminded of a sordid past?