DENVER — Major League Baseball, in its boldest move since integrating its sport in 1947 with Jackie Robinson, announced Friday that Atlanta will be stripped of hosting the 2021 All-Star Game.
In protesting Georgia’s new discriminatory voting bill, MLB acted without waiting to see what other leagues or conferences will do.
It took a stand, even though baseball is considered to be the most conservative of the major sports leagues.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,’’ Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement announcing the decision. “In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.’’
Just like that baseball, in protesting a political act, became the first league to move one of its jewel events in the same calendar year, just three months before the July 13 All-Star Game.
By making this move, Manfred has put other leagues on notice as long as Georgia insists on standing by this bill.
The NFL surely can’t give Atlanta another Super Bowl.
Same goes for the NBA and its All-Star Game.
And the NCAA and the Final Four.
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Maybe, Major League Baseball had no choice.
You can’t support Black Lives Matter, give $10 million to the Players Alliance and expect that honoring Jackie Robinson every April 15 is enough.
You can’t preach about appealing to a diverse audience, and stay silent when there are political issues that impact that very audience.
When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation, called the “Election Integrity Act," it was challenged by the ACLU and other organizations in federal court. The law includes ID requirements on absentee ballots, eliminating early voting beyond one week, limiting access to voting drop boxes and banning the distribution of food and water to those waiting in line to vote.
President Joe Biden called the legislature, “Jim Crow on steroids," and on Wednesday urged MLB to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
The CEOs of Coca Cola and Delta, each headquartered in Atlanta, also issued statements this week condemning the restrictive voting law that passed last week.
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