COMMENTARY | The debate over the National Rifle Association -- which has been in the news since last December's Sandy Hook tragedy -- has made its way to NASCAR, as the NRA announced that it will be the sponsor of this April's race at Texas Motor Speedway. The NRA 500 will no doubt be a lightning rod of controversy, prompting boycotts from the group's opponents and cheers from others who support the group.
The question being asked by everyone right now: "Did NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway make the right move in allowing this sponsorship deal?"
Whatever people believe, they are very passionate in their responses as I found on social media. People either can't stand the idea of the NRA using a NASCAR race to garner publicity, or they wholeheartedly defend the organization.
Getting to the crux of the matter, I'll just say it straight: There is nothing wrong with the NRA sponsoring a NASCAR race.
Their money is as good as any company's money. There is no reason to deny them sponsorship. The NRA as a group hasn't committed any crimes. They are just an organization with a point of view and are allowed to offer sponsorship money to NASCAR just like everyone else.
Many anti-NRA fans may boycott this race and not attend in person or watch on TV, but I'm willing to bet the PR generated by this announcement will more than make up for any lost viewership.
This is a simple business transaction, and NASCAR and the speedway shouldn't feel bad about taking the NRA's money. Distancing itself from an NRA sponsorship would open up a Pandora's Box of other groups that might not be able to sponsor, and as an advocate of free speech I don't want to go down that path. The NRA is a group with the same free speech rights as anyone else, and if they want to use NASCAR as an outlet for their views, they have that right.
Anyone who would seek to stop the NRA from being able to sponsor a NASCAR race is missing the point. It's about freedom of speech, bottom line, and nothing can change that.
NASCAR has no legitimate reason to tell the NRA they can't sponsor a race.
Matt Myftiu lives in Michigan, has been a walking encyclopedia of NASCAR since immersing himself in the sport over 15 years ago, and has worked as a journalist for two decades. His blog on the sport, NASCAR: Beyond the Track, has been published by The Oakland Press for the past 5 years.
Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu