Revenge and backlash have always been the American response to defeat, especially in the civil rights case. Despite the resulting muddy, misdirection, and outrage, the Bill to vote in Georgia, incorporated into the law last month, was clearly an answer to defeat, just like that January 6th attack on the US Capitol was. Sport has always been expected to provide some form of talc to help alleviate the effects of setbacks, the illusion that the Games, through their distractions, reflect some national unity – the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the World Series. My team, your team, our country.
Through the lens of civics and values, sport as an industry has not handled the difficulties particularly well. The 20th century was the sports century, and within it the games enthusiastically condoned racism, homophobia, war, sexism, sexual abuse, police brutality, domestic violence, drug-enhancing drug use, nationalism, and in the case of college sports. Exploitation of athletes for decades. However, the Games and those who run them have always been motivated by two main concerns: responding to the general mood of the country, and specifically responding to the concerns of corporate partners. Tyreek Hill didn’t hurt the business, Ray Rice did. The infamous Arizona Immigration Act, which was incorporated into law in 2010, was a hideous bill, however Bud Blessed and baseball had no intention of making the spring practice displeasure. Major League Baseball removes the all-star game from Georgia The last week is just the latest example of a league that is damaging its image with such a framework. It just so happened that damage control and right thing were one and the same thing in this case.
So that baseball played the all-star game in Atlanta – and that at the same time late Henry Aaron – Without a really significant condemnation of the new law, it would have taken an unnecessary risk. It would have been embarrassed to play its showcase in the off-season in a state that again tried to aggressively disenfranchise and suppress the black voices. It would have done so just a few months after its historic one Recording of the statistics of the players of the Negro League into the mainstream record books. And it would have done that after it made its commitment to do so Don’t be a passive observer anymore to the massive social upheaval of the nation.
Had they stayed in Georgia, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and his sport would have always been remembered as the sport that rewarded Georgia’s fiction – that the 2020 election and subsequent Senate runoff were stolen – and that the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol was justified. Few large corporations in America want to be associated, even tangentially, with the discredited, caustic reports of the 2020 election, especially considering that it was precisely this kind of rhetoric that sparked the January 6 violence. Manfred’s corporate sponsors were already troubled. in the Call on all American companies to defy the law That would limit the rights of black voters. 72 black business executives also spoke effectively to baseball, urging the game to make a statement. Georgia’s robust relationship with Hollywood is also under pressure. It just wasn’t worth doing business with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for her.
From a corporate perspective, the headache was no more than the support from the NFL Colin Kaepernick Constitutionally protected right of protest. In this case, the NFL and its teams sacrificed supposed American values; No team Kaepernick signed matched the mood of the popular mainstream. New York Giants Owners John Mara and Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti both said they feared signing Kaepernick would affect their bottom line financially and in terms of their relationship with fans – not because Kaepernick was legally or morally wrong, but simply because kneeling was highly unpopular. So they gave in and kept him away from football. In this case, the world after the assassination of George Floyd is different from the annihilation of the First Change Jingoism after 9/11 in Americaand MLB reckoned that it would be better to accept the short-term criticism than bear the long-term hypocrisy of honoring Henry Aaron while his state became reactionary.
The events of the week are a civic lesson. The purpose of pressure is to provoke an action, a concession. As rhetoric grew in this country – that it stems from Jim Crow, Reconstruction, Antebellum – it should also be noted that it was political pressure that landed the Braves in Atlanta in the first place. After Bill Bartholomay bought the Milwaukee Braves from Lou Perini to relocate to Atlanta for the 1965 season, Milwaukee black players, particularly Henry Aaron and Lee Maye, voiced their displeasure. “I knew what was down there and didn’t want to go back,” Henry told me about segregation years ago, repeating his position from 1964. “I was happy in Milwaukee.” Bartholomay wanted to be the man who opened the deep south to professional sports, but the strict Jim Crow laws and segregation in the area made this impossible. The 1965 AFL All-Star Game was relocated from New Orleans because black players could not find adequate accommodation or transportation. The game took place in Houston. To leave Milwaukee for Atlanta, then-mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen Jr., guaranteed that the seating in the soon-to-be-built Fulton County Stadium would be integrated – no colored section, no colored water fountains or separate concession booths. Sport, using economic pressure for a political end, was exactly the point then and now.
Fifty-six years later, Manfred’s purpose in moving the game out of Atlanta was certainly criminal, clearly as a message to lawmakers who passed the law. The decision signaled that there are consequences for the alignment with toxic narratives – both the legitimacy of the voting process and the subsequent restriction of access to it. Manfred and MLB could have kept the game in Atlanta and used their considerable political leverage to focus directly on the Georgia General Assembly. His decision was also punishable by the working poor, whites and blacks, the Uber and Lyft drivers, the hotel workers, concessionaires and bar owners who needed the guests of a major national event to get to Atlanta and spend their money. Still, the message to those voters who, by choosing to hold lawmakers accountable for positions that may harm them in the future, or for engaging in disenfranchisement policies (as was the case with segregation decades ago), is theirs to rethink one’s own values. Arrogant, yes, and Georgia’s workers have been damaged in the wake, but arrogance is a defining characteristic of power.
What decision should Manfred make? Not However, one should confuse the expectation that the company should now be viewed as an ally in Major League Baseball in the fight against voter suppression. Nor should the companies that put Manfred under pressure be viewed as morally heroic, because in the weeks leading up to the vote, Georgia’s powerful business class was largely silent. You let the math pass and try far too late to reposition yourself against negativity.
For its part, baseball is not seeking repeal of the law, nor is it at the time committed to using its political action committee to lead or support candidates against the Republican lawmakers who supported the law. Manfred also did not set any public conditions or reviews the new location. There is nowhere in America today that is not problematic. There was no revelation here. If Manfred said that baseball was disappointed with Georgian legislation and actively seeks to have the bill rolled back, the sport would be working with a new manual that uses economic and political pressure to ensure its Reflect corporate values in a state where one of its franchises is located. That’s not what happened. MLB recognizes that Georgia is a political nightmare – one that just doesn’t need to be. That is significant and important, and in this particular case perhaps enough for this individual moment. After two impeachments, a pandemic, a riot, a country falling apart at the seams and increasing corporate pressures – and the law itself, which runs counter to the values of at least some members of the baseball executive board – Georgia just wasn’t. I am not worth the grief. With all the components in mind, the game didn’t have much choice at all.