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Major League Baseball entered the chat on Friday. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the MLB summer All-Star game will no longer be played in Atlanta following the passage of Georgia’s Senate Bill 202. Notably, the proposed legislation would create sweeping voter suppression law targeting communities of color.
The move has drawn the attention of former presidents, sports commentators, political pundits, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.
Social media pariah and former President Donald Trump called for his supporters to boycott the MLB and “all the other woke companies.” The MLB joins a long list of companies Trump has targeted with boycott threats. On the list are Apple, Macy’s, AT&T, Goodyear, the National Football league and nearly every major cable news network. The MLB will likely join the equally long list of companies who barely notice the conservative boycott outside of their social media mentions.
MLB team owners donate overwhelmingly to Republicans
Both President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama also took note. Obama tweeted in support of the move Saturday morning; “Congratulations to @MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens. There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.”
As recently as 2016, every Major League Baseball team CEO and president were White. A study from FiveThirtyEight and ESPN shows MLB team owners donated $20.4 million throughout the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections – $15.2 million to Republicans and $5.2 million to Democrats. The total financial contributions dwarf the NBA’s $11 million and the NFL’s $8.9 million. The top four major leagues donated roughly 78% of all political contributions to Republicans.
Considering the undeniably conservative leaning of the MLB’s leadership, the prospect of a unified front seems unlikely. The annual MLB draft is scheduled as the opening act for All-Star Week. It takes place directly before the “Midsummer Classic” on July 13. While the high-level hit to Georgia’s pocketbook isn’t expected to be substantial, the message is meant to be.
MLB remains tied to racist mascots
Unfortunately, the MLB has a lot of ground to make up before those in the social justice fight will begin to let their guard down and see it as a potential ally organization. MLB owners have been notoriously opposed to changing their racist caricatures of Native people or racist team names, often citing the special relationship and brand recognition that teams have with their majority White fans.
Notably, the Atlanta Braves team still refuses to entertain the idea of changing their name. They’ve only had two self-identified Tribal citizens on their roster in the last 100 years.
In 2020, the Cleveland Indians announced they will be changing their team name, but the timeline has begun to stretch. They have made recent moves to ban the racist stereotyping and cultural appropriation they’ve long encouraged at their games.