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MLB plays politics, not baseball

Culture | Georgia’s voting law sparks a corporation-driven boycott
by Sharon Dierberger
Posted 4/05/21, 01:07 pm

Major League Baseball’s decision to relocate its July All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia’s new election law has people choosing sides and fact-checkers yelling, “Foul!”

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Friday he’s moving the midsummer event and the MLB draft from Atlanta to an as yet undetermined location, saying he made the decision after consulting teams, players, and players’ organizations. Others say he folded to political and corporate pressure, noting the election law expands, not restricts, voter access. They call the MLB’s decision harmful to the city and the individuals it claims to defend, and they pointed out the league just sealed a deal with a Communist-backed tech company in China, where free elections don’t exist.

On March 25, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the new law, a response to concerns about security and fairness during the 2020 presidential election.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the law restricts voter access and later told ESPN he’d “strongly support” MLB moving the All-Star Game. Citing Biden’s criticisms as false, The Washington Post gave the president “four Pinocchios”—its worst accuracy rating—for claiming the law ends voting hours early and limits voting opportunities. “Experts say the net effect was to expand opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them,” Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote.

Opponents continued to insist the law will suppress votes from African Americans because it requires identification when requesting and mailing ballots. (Georgia already requires ID to vote in-person.) OutKick sports media founder Clay Travis lambasted that argument, saying, “You need an ID to pick up tickets to attend a baseball game. Or to get a beer inside once you’re there. But MLB is moving the game because you need an ID to vote? This is pure insanity.”

The Coca-Cola Co., headquartered in Atlanta, criticized the law yet required a valid ID for entrance to its own 2020 shareholders meeting. Thirty-six states require some form of voter ID.

ESPN’s Howard Bryant said pressure from corporate sponsors caused MLB to change venues, according to his sources. He tweeted players did not threaten to boycott and did not get to vote on the issue. The Atlanta Braves organization announced it was “deeply disappointed” over MLB’s move and had hoped Atlanta’s hosting would enhance discussions of voting.

Coca-Cola and Delta, another Atlanta-based company, say they worked behind the scenes for changes to the original bill. But Delta CEO Ed Bastian condemned the final version, saying it didn’t mesh with Delta’s values and wasn’t necessary because the rationale for it—allegations of widespread voter fraud—was “based on a lie.”

Kemp rebuffed Bastian’s statements: “At no point did Delta share any opposition to expanding early voting, strengthening voter ID measures, increasing the use of secure drop-boxes statewide, and making it easier for local election officials to administer elections—which is exactly what this bill does.” Kemp added he had to show his photo ID last time he flew Delta.

Liberal activists are calling for boycotts of Georgia-based companies for not doing enough to block the legislation. MLB’s All-Star Game decision alone will financially harm a sizable portion of the population MLB says it’s defending. The city of Atlanta is predominantly black, and more than 30 percent of its businesses are black-owned. Last year’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles generated a city-wide spending increase of $89 million. In 2000, when Atlanta last hosted the game, the economic impact to the city was $49 million, according to the Baseball Almanac.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., doesn’t support moving the All-Star Game and opposes all boycotts but says corporations should stop supporting the Republican Party. Former President Donald Trump is calling for boycotts of the MLB for caving to liberal pressures.

The same week it exited Atlanta, MLB signed a deal with Chinese tech company Tencent to stream 125 games in China. This is the same company that in 2019 yanked NBA games after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.


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Sharon Dierberger

Sharon is a correspondent and reviewer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University graduate. She has served as a university teacher, clinical exercise physiologist, homeschooling mom, businesswoman, and Division 1 athlete. She resides in Stillwater, Minnesota, with her husband, Bill.

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Comments

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  • culater100
    Posted: Mon, 04/05/2021 01:27 pm

    This move by MLB is pure insanity. MLB could not have actually read the bill and compared it to current legislation in other states. This bill expands voter access for those citizens with the right to vote. I cancelled my annual video subscription to MLB.tv on Saturday because of MLB's utterly mis-informed decision to move the All-Star game. I told them to re-subscribe me when they reverse their decision and return the game to Atlanta. In the meantime, MLB will not get a penny of my spending and I hope many others cancel their patronage of MLB too. 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 04/06/2021 11:07 pm

    I foresee that Americans with good sense will soon associate the word "woke" with idiocy. And corporations like Delta and Coke and MLB will sooner or later learn that bowing to the demands of those who screech the loudest is not necessarily the path to success. 

  • not silent
    Posted: Thu, 04/08/2021 11:54 am

    I have my own concerns about the law; and, quite honestly, I'm surprised more people aren't talking about the part that concerns me.  There is kind of an oblique mention in this article: I.e., "Delta CEO Ed Bastian condemned the final version, saying it didn't mesh with Delta's values and wasn't necessary because the rationale for it-allegations of widespread voter fraud-was 'based on a lie.'" As I said, that is an oblique reference.  The actual issue that concerns me is spelled out in Harvest Prude's preivous article:

    "The legislature gained more control over elections by removing the secretary of state as the chair of the State Election Board and replacing him or her with a new, legislature-appointed leader.  The board now has the power to remove and replace any county election officials in precincts where things go awry."

    In case it's not clear from the quote, this law will effectively remove Brad Raffensperger, the current secretary of state, from his position as chair of the State Election Board.  I find this VERY problematic in light of recent events-i.e., attempts were made to coerce Mr. Raffensperger to say that there was election fraud; but he refused because election fraud had not been proven in court.  Then attempts were made to force him to resign, but he refused to do so.  I'm not a lawyer or politician, but this looks an awful lot like an attempt to "punish" Mr. Raffensperger and to give the legislature more control over future election outcomes.  In other words, it will change the balance of power and to give the legislative branch the ability to put in someone they choose as chair of the Election Board instead of the secretary of state who is elected by voters. 

    The law ALSO gives the legislature power to remove officials in precincts if "things go awry."  I'm not sure what is meant by"things going awry," but I have concern that it could be used to justify removing an official because the legislature didn't like the outcome of an election.  Surely I don't need to point out that this is ESPECIALLY concerning since the SAME LAW is removing Mr. Raffensperger from his position as chair of the Election Board.

    Bottom line: this law may increase access to voting in some ways, but I cannot and will not support it unless someone can clarify that the part I brought up was not intended to punish Mr. Raffensperger and to allow future claims of voter fraud to be rubber-stamped by people who were hand picked by the state legislature instead of having to go through an official who was elected by VOTERS (i.e, the secretary of state).

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