When NASCAR officially banned the confederate flag from all races and events, several athletes from other sports took notice. One was New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who live-tweeted Wednesday's Blue Emu 500. Now the three-time Pro Bowler will be attending his first race.
Kamara tweeted a photo Saturday that showed a massive pile of Bubba Wallace merchandise. He revealed that he will attend Sunday's Dixie Vodka 400 after NASCAR extended an invitation. Kamara lives and trains in Miami during the offseason and will be on hand as Wallace aims to secure the victory. According to Bleacher Report's Master Tesfatsion, this decision to attend the race is a direct result of the confederate flag ban.
Wallace expressed considerable excitement about this news. One reason is that Kamara played for the Tennessee Volunteers during his college career. Wallace is a massive fan of the team and even joined them for practice in 2016. He put on pads, ran routes as a wide receiver and tried out as a running back. However, Wallace later said that his best position was "waterboy."
As Kamara and former NFL safety Bernard Pollard Jr. have shown, the decision to ban the confederate flag is widening NASCAR's fanbase. There are certainly some fans expressing anger about the policy change, but they are in the minority. Wallace spoke about these fans and said that they are the ones that never watched the NFL again after players began kneeling. The vast majority, however, are supportive of the ban.
"Let's look at what [ESPN journalist] Marty Smith said," Wallace explained during an interview. "It was 'to the fans that are upset, we — NASCAR — we are closing the door on you. We are opening up the door for many others.' That speaks volumes right there. ... I think what he said right there is spot on. It's not something that we are trying to take out of your daily life. We are just trying to allow... what I want is for people to not feel uncomfortable."
Kamara and some of his peers may not have been vocal about any discomfort due to the confederate flag, but the ban helped them become more interested in a new sport. Several athletes are watching NASCAR for the first time and are learning about the intricacies of stock car racing. Now Kamara will experience a live race, albeit with drastically fewer fans in attendance.