No one to blame for his suspension other than Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson(Getty)

Noah Gragson has never been one to shy away from controversy, and on Saturday morning, his own actions have once again placed him in the eye of a storm. It was revealed that the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet’s own team, Legacy Motor Club, had suspended him for actions that, as the press release announcing the suspension said, “do not represent the values of our team”.

The organization stated at that time the rookie pilot would be replaced for Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway by NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry.

NASCAR then took the team’s action one step further by announcing that Gragson would be suspended indefinitely saying that he had, “violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book”.

According to reports, Gragson had “liked” an image on social media related to the 2020 death of George Floyd.

As a public school teacher, I am made well aware by my superiors of acceptable and unacceptable behavior on social media and of the consequences of poor decisions. Further, in Tennessee teachers of certain classes are required to provide lessons to students about that topic.

If teachers and students are schooled on what to do and not do on social media then I feel reasonably safe in saying that NASCAR drivers, who are constantly reminding us of their relationships with corporate partners, are even more educated about the dos and don’ts of handling one’s self on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the myriad of other sites available.

Drivers not only represent themselves but they also are a face of their teams, their sponsors, and the sport itself. So when they do something questionable or embarrassing to themselves, they are also embarrassing others.

Often times in situations such as these, there will be some who will point to freedom of speech as protection to the offender. As a U.S. Government teacher, I frequently remind students that it is important to remember that the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does protect the right of free speech but it does not necessarily protect one’s job. In this case, no one is taking away Gragson’s right to speak, but they are taking away his job(at least temporarily).

Also, the 1st Amendment applies to government regulation. Legacy Motor Club and NASCAR are private entities just as most companies and bosses are.

The same sort of scenario has played out before as was the case when Kyle Larson was released by Chip Ganassi Racing and suspended by NASCAR for almost an entire season after the use of an inappropriate term during a live broadcast of an internet-based racing game.

Gragson himself recognized his mistake and offered this statement on Twitter(X):

The topic of how much society has changed and whether we have become too sensitive as a culture is a debate for another time. NASCAR has a code of conduct and apparently Legacy Motor Club does as well and it was deemed that this driver stepped over the line. Ultimately, this was Noah Gragson’s mistake. With all the coaching they no doubt get, it is hard to imagine these things continue to happen to people who are often in the limelight.

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