Major League Baseball should take action.
Baseball should pull its marquee event from the state of Georgia — this summer’s All-Star Game in Atlanta.
It shouldn’t reward a state with a financial windfall and prestige for trying to suppress the voting rights of minorities.
Essentially, that’s what Georgia’s Republican-led state House did when it passed a controversial voting overhaul last week.
Many voting rights advocates and Democrats have trashed the new legislation, which limits drop boxes and sets photo ID requirements for absentee voting and other restrictions, such as making it illegal to hand out water to people waiting on line to vote. The new measures appear to be aimed at people of color.
In fact, President Biden called it “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.
For sure, Georgia’s actions didn’t go unnoticed.
And it’s awesome that the players’ union said it would look into possibly a players boycott of the event.
“Players are very much aware,” MLBPA union chief Tony Clark told the Boston Globe. “As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with a league on that issue. If there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation.”
Another sign of how important an issue this is came from Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who is one of two Black managers in the game. As the previous fall’s World Series managers are charged with skipping the All-Star Game, Roberts said he would consider not managing in protest of what has been done in Georgia.
Again, it speaks volumes that players and managers are willing to take a stance.
But the statement should come from MLB. It would be more powerful and fitting for the sport to reject these backward actions.
After all, baseball has always wrapped itself in the idea of being a leader in forcing change.
There’s little doubt that baseball changed this country in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It’s an event and moment so important to the sport that it recognizes the event every April 15th — the day Robinson played his first game — and his famous No. 42, retired by the entire league, is worn in tribute by every player. No other player in sports history has that honor.
And while baseball should take the lead in this fight, there’s even talk about moving the Masters, which isn’t likely to happen, but even a discussion of moving the famed event out of Augusta says a lot.
Other leagues have punished states for policies that aren’t fair or equal to all citizens.
The NFL, not known for taking a stance on social issues before joining in on Black Lives Matter last year, made a huge statement in 1991 when it wasn’t so fashionable.
The owners voted to take away the 1993 Super Bowl from the state of Arizona because it voted against making Martin Luther King Day a state-paid holiday.
It had become a national holiday throughout the country.
The NFL stated that not only was it taking the 1993 event away, but that the state would never get another Super Bowl as long as MLK Day wasn’t a paid holiday.
Faced with the idea of never having another Super Bowl, residents voted to make it a holiday the next time it was on the ballot.
The NBA and NCAA punished North Carolina for its discriminatory HB2 bathroom bill, which required the public to use bathrooms that coincided with the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than the gender with which they identified.
At the time, the NBA issued this statement: “While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
The NBA quickly snatched the NBA All-Star game from Charlotte and Hornets owner Michael Jordan — the sport’s biggest star. And the NCAA took away many championship events and NCAA men’s basketball regionals away from the state. A year later, the state repealed the transgender restrictions. Some estimates said that the state faced losing $3.76 billion over the controversy, as many canceled conventions and some companies also decided not to do business there.
Money seems to be the only way to get people to change their wrong intentions.
MLB would make Robinson proud for standing up for all people the same way it did for him back in 1947.