We may be only two days into the MLB season, but baseball and politics are again intertwined already. It was announced today that the MLB All-Star Game would be moved from Atlanta in response to new legislation that has civil rights groups feeling that that it would potentially restrict voting rights and access for people of color. While many MLB fans just want to focus on baseball finally returning, this decision poses an interesting question to sports fans that we need answered: where does this end?
Cost of Moving MLB All-Star Game
Moving events such as the MLB All-Star game can be crippling to cities that lose out. No, the cities won’t collapse due to one event, but they certainly do miss out on plenty of revenue. Losing events will be felt by local hotels, restaurants, small businesses, etc. Is it fair to hurt local economies and, in some cases, people’s livelihoods over something many can’t control? In some cases, I’m sure at least some of those that are hurt may disagree with the bill or law that is being questioned.
Is it fair to punish them even if it is an unintended consequence?
In 2017, a study estimated the the NBA All-Star game generated just under $45 million dollars for the city of New Orleans. The 2019 MLB All-Star game in Cleveland generated roughly $65 million for the city’s economy. While the NBA did come back to Charlotte in 2019 after moving the 2017 All-Star Game, I’m sure the impact was felt in 2017. Now, in this crucial post-pandemic era, can we live with ourselves for taking money away from those who may need it most? Unlike the NBA’s situation in Charlotte, many of these businesses won’t last long enough to make it up.
If we have seen anything over the past year, it’s that there are very few things, if any, that we can all agree on. In 2021, we are seeing a change in our culture. Whether you side with those calling it “cancel culture” or think it’s people being held accountable for their actions, everyone can agree there is a shift occurring. If this trend is to continue, where does it end? Will we see conservative or liberal decisions consistently being questioned? If so, who decides whether those bills cross the line? Even more important, what constitutes a sporting event being moved?
What fans need to start asking themselves is if this is the right course of action. These events are moved because of pushback against decisions made by state legislatures and politicians. Are these not, however, legislatures and politicians that we elected? In a way, pressuring these places to change policies is going against the opinions of those who voted for people to make such decisions. Is that not the whole point of democracy? To ensure that the will of the people is not subverted by larger corporations?
With that being said, everyone can agree that if states and/or cities are pushing through policies and legislation that overtly infringes on the rights and/or harms others, punishment should be doled out. If a bill or law is so bad that it goes against everything America stands for, the events certainly should be moved. Should it be up to these leagues to decide when that line is crossed, though? Nobody alone can make a large scale change, but maybe it’s time sports fans come together on common ground.
From the protests we have seen in the past, specifically those after the Milwaukee Bucks protested their game after the shooting of the Jacob Blake shooting, we have seen that leagues will do whatever they can to not look like a bad guy. Very quickly, the NBA, MLB, WNBA and many more leagues cancelled games. Nobody wanted to face the questions of why they acted differently. Now, we have seen two different leagues shift major sporting events. It won’t stop here and this will certainly happen again.
The only way to solve it is to make ourselves heard. That’s why I implore these leagues to have a vote. These events are put on for the fans, so should it not be up to us to decide what happens? I, and I’m sure many of you, would agree it’s about time we’re heard. That’s why I would implore these leagues to make a survey, publicly shared and open to all to vote on whether or not action should be taken on such issues.
We may not be heard as individuals, but as a collective, we are the only reason the MLB is able to function. I think maybe, just maybe, it’s about time they remember that and let us have a say, instead of acting alone as judge, jury, and executioner.