While Major League Baseball certainly has the right to hold its All-Star Game wherever it wants, its decision to yank this year’s game out of Atlanta will likely hurt the very people it purports to support – the employees of color of restaurants and hotels who don’t have multimillion-dollar contracts, the workers of concession stands who get paid by the game or on how much beer and peanuts they sell, the private parking attendants and street vendors who lack a powerful players union, and so on and so on.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday that he made the decision to relocate the July 13 game because of a new voting law in Georgia that limits ballot drop-boxes to early-voting sites and requires that absentee ballot envelopes contain a driver’s license number, while prohibiting partisans (not poll workers) from handing out food and drink to voters waiting in line, among other provisions. The Atlanta Braves organization said it is “deeply disappointed” by the decision, supports voting rights and “unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are victims of this decision.”
Like former President Trump’s call for a counter-boycott of entities criticizing Georgia’s new election law (joining MLB are Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and others), MLB’s move further politicizes professional sports and denies COVID-fatigued fans a sanctuary in A-Town. It would have been more effective to organize voter registration and early-voting information events around the Atlanta stadium as well as the minor league venues in the state – to be part of the solution and actively ensure more folks participate in our exercise of democracy. That’s a winning pitch.
Instead, MLB picked up its All-Star equipment and left the field, a swing and a miss for working folks, fans and voters.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.