YOU'RE OUT!

If you've made up your mind about MLB's controversial decision, consider these factors

Let's discuss what MLB is doing. Composite photo by Jack Brame.

To those who decry Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game and amateur draft out of Atlanta in protest of Georgia's new election law that puts added restrictions on who and how people can vote ….

To those who say "I don't want my sports getting mixed up in politics" …

Sports, the entertainment world, media, the corporate business world and politics are all together now. One and the same.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred did the right thing, the American thing, moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta if that's how baseball feels about the Georgia election law.

It's a free country – if you don't like the way a state or company conducts its business, take your business somewhere else. That's what MLB is doing.

The Georgia law limits the number of ballot drop boxes, only voters who request a mail-in ballot will receive one, and requires photo ID for absentee voting. Candidates cannot mail ballots to voters. It also makes it illegal for anybody to provide food or water to voters waiting in line to vote. Several parts of the bill allegedly are designed to disproportionately discourage voters of color who traditionally stand in line for hours in Georgia's urban areas.

Manfred said, "I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year's All-Star Game and MLB draft. Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp strongly defends the law, however, saying the legislation "ensures the integrity of our election," and described MLB's decision to move the All-Star Game as an "attack on our state" and "the direct result of repeated lies by Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams."

Kemp added, "I will not back down. MLB caved to fear, political opportunism and liberal lies. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections."

Georgia passed the new election bill despite state officials insisting repeatedly, including three recounts of ballots, that the 2020 presidential vote in Georgia showed no widespread fraud. Georgia went into the win column for President Biden.

Critics of the new law say Georgia amended the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to "if it ain't broke, fix it so our side wins next time."

It's not just MLB speaking against the new Georgia election bill. Major Georgia-based companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines have expressed strong opposition.

Coke called the law "unacceptable, a step backwards." Delta released a statement saying the law "includes provisions that will make it harder for many under-represented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. It's about protecting the voices of our people."

Kemp says, "I want to be clear, I will not be backing down from this fight. We will not be intimidated, and we will also not be silenced."

Kemp may back down. Just like Arizona backed down in the '90s after the NFL took away the 1993 Super Bowl scheduled for Phoenix because the state did not recognize Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday. After public outcry and threats of boycotts led by Coretta Scott King, Stevie Wonder, U2 and Public Enemy, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved MLK Day as a paid holiday and Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl in 1996.

In 2016, North Carolina passed a controversial "Bathroom Bill" seen as discriminatory to LGBTQ people. The NBA pulled its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. North Carolina repealed the law the following year and the NBA All-Star Game was restored to Charlotte in 2019.

Baseball commissioner Manfred said he consulted with teams, former and current players and the Players Association before announcing he was pulling the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta and moving it to Denver.

Election laws in Colorado make it easier for voters to cast their ballots. Colorado has universal mail-in voting. Every registered voter automatically receives a mail-in ballot, and 94 percent of people vote that way. There are no long lines of people waiting to vote on Election Day in Colorado.

Voting bills similar to Georgia's law now are proposed in 47 states, including Texas. The reaction from the business world has been swift and nearly unanimously opposed to any law that would restrict or make it more difficult for people to vote. Dow, Estee Lauder, Under Armour, American Airlines, ViacomCBS and more than 100 large corporations have protested these proposals. In Texas, Dell released a statement saying "governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard," and proposals in the Texas legislature "do the opposite."

Texas-based American Airlines said, "As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team and customers who call Texas home and honor the sacrifices made by generations to protect and expand the right to vote."

I believe that sports organizations and athletes have a right to speak on political issues. Just because you're wealthy and physically gifted shouldn't diminish your voice.

Of course, this may depend on your political affiliation or which cable news channel you watch. In the case of one Fox News host, it more depends on which athletes are doing the talking.

In 2018, after LeBron James and other NBA stars spoke out about police brutality against Blacks, Fox News host Laura Ingraham said, "It's always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. Oh, and LeBron (James) and Kevin (Durant), you're great players but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble."

But last year, after Drew Brees was criticized for speaking in opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, Ingraham applauded the quarterback for his courage. "He is allowed to have his view about what kneeling and the flag means to him. I mean, he's a person. I mean this is beyond football. (Criticism of Brees) is totalitarian conduct. This is Stalinist."

If LeBron James and athletes and celebrities want to get involved in social and political issues, good for them. They're not going to dribble or shut up.

Supporting Biden and Kamala Harris last year: Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Steph Curry, Beyonce, Lin-Manuel Miranda, The Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Brad Pitt, Taylor Swift, Tom Hanks, Chris Paul, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Gregg Popovich, Magic Johnson, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Doc Rivers and more.

Supporting President Trump and Mike Pence: Kid Rock, Dennis Quaid, Brett Favre, Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty, Gary Busey, Curt Schilling, Mike Ditka, Ted Nugent, Johnny Damon, Antonio Sabato Jr., Darryl Strawberry, Dana White, James Woods, Roseanne Barr, Mariano Rivera, Trace Adkins, Mary Hart, Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars, Herschel Walker, Jon Voight, Scott Baio, Lil Wayne and more.

Even veteran political leaders are waking up to reality. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell's initial response to business leaders condemning the Georgia election law: "my advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don't pick sides in these big fights." He added that companies were acting like "woke alternative government, a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order."

But it's all right for corporations to contribute millions of dollars to political candidates and political action committees?

One day later, McConnell corrected himself: "They're certainly entitled to be involved in politics." Feel free to dribble your money my way.

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