Socio-political issues are always more nuanced than public discourse allows. Still, I don’t think I’m going out on much of a limb if I say that Arizona’s new immigration law is racist. In general, I support the idea of a boycott of the state, although I also have an aunt who runs a B&B in Tuscon, and I don’t particularly want to see her suffer, especially since Tuscon and Flagstaff have filed suit against the new law.
But sports… Ah, sports… It didn’t take long after passage of the law that several of the advocacy groups that have my email address requested I sign a petition against the law. One of them was about baseball. The 2011 All-Star Game is supposed to be played in the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium, and the petition was to get Major League Baseball to move the game unless the law is changed. So yeah, I signed that. Online petitions make all the difference. No, really. Really. Really!
Anyway, Major League Baseball has a long history of being apolitical, which usually means, since we’re talking about incredibly rich players and incredibly rich owners (especially incredibly rich owners), its default setting is right-wing. It wasn’t the League that suddenly opened baseball to black players in 1947; it was a team owner in Brooklyn. By staying out of the desegregation battle, Major League Baseball’s stance was, well, racist.
A huge number of baseball players today hail from Latin American countries. Shouldn’t MLB therefore stand firmly against this law?
As always, when it comes to the intersection of sports and politics, it’s always best to turn to David Zirin, sportswriter for The Nation. Here he calls on MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to stand in the tradition of Jackie Robinson. In another blog post, he talks about the movement to protest the Arizona Diamondbacks and their owner Ken Kendrick, a massive supporter of Arizona’s Republican Party. This one is a follow-up to the protest at the Diamondbacks/Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
A few individual baseball players have taken a public stance against the law. A special shout-out goes to All-Star Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres. He is a dual citizen of the US and Mexico, and he has said that he won’t play in the All-Star game in Arizona if the law is still in place. Also taking a stance against the law is Major League Baseball’s Players’ Union. Good for them at least.
And then, out of nowhere, here comes Los Suns. The National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns became the first team to stand against the law, and on Cinco de Mayo, they played in Los Suns uniforms. Star player Steve Nash (a Canadian!) has spoken quite eloquently on the matter. The San Antonio Spurs, to their credit, also attempted to wear Los Spurs uniforms, but they weren’t able to get the uniforms in time for the game.
So basketball got there first. Good for basketball, although the league is still silent, even if entire teams and individuals aren’t.
Either way, Bud Selig proves once again why he’s the worst commissioner in the history of Major League Baseball. Gosh, he’s so easy to dislike.