Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 2/19/12

The last state to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Day as a holiday was Arizona, so it’s not a state very synonymous with racial sensitivity.

However, at an up coming NASCAR race in Phoenix, a very proactive statement towards on racial sensitivity has been made.

NASCAR and track officials canceled plans to have pro golfer Bubba Watson drive the car from the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” at Phoenix International Raceway because of concerns about a negative reaction to the infamous Confederate flag that sits atop the car.

Watson was going to drive the 1969 Dodge Charger, commonly known as the “General Lee,” for a parade lap March 4 preceding the Sprint Cup series race at Phoenix. However, the car has a large Confederate flag on its roof, just as it did when the famous television series aired in the 1970s.

Of course, those were more politically incorrect times, when the flag inappropriately flew from the tops of government buildings and was often placed in classrooms. We’ve come a long way since then. I’d like to think.

NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said in a statement:

“The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive.”

Of course, you’ll still see that flag closely associated with white supremacy all over the infield and parking lot, as much of the NASCAR fan base embraces it. But I don’t think this change in pre-race bread and circuses will turn them off the sport entirely.  Here’s what Watson said about it, via the Huffington Post:

“Obviously, I don’t stand for the Confederate flag,” Watson said. “The Confederate flag was not used (in the show) for what people see it as today, so that’s sad. But NASCAR was built on moonshining, so the show was built on moonshining. I thought it was fun. I didn’t buy the car to get publicity; I bought it because I love it.”

Watson recently bought the car at an auction for $110,000.

At least they’re handling this better much than the terrible movie remake of the television series did. The crappy 2005 feature film did exactly what all corporations do when faced with an unavoidable divisive issue central to the product’s marketability and branding. Usually corporate culture avoids anything interesting or controversial, but when that issue is so overt they…just throw out equal sides with equal time. There was a seen in the film when the Dukes are stuck in traffic, and hear passionate comments from other commuters stuck in traffic. Amazingly, they hear the exact number of opinions from every side of the focus group.

It was a very lazily written scene, in a lazily made, poorly produced movie.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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