Georgia was the major upset of the 2020 elections. Not only did the traditionally red state go blue for Joe Biden, but shortly thereafter, it went on to elect two Democratic senators: Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is also the state’s first senator of color.
On March 25, the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature passed new voting laws that changed procedures for requesting absentee ballots, the use of identification when voting in person, and new boundaries and restrictions on campaigning near voting sites.
There has been much media coverage over providing refreshments to people waiting in lines as well. The law prevents offering refreshments to voters past a certain distance to the voting location but it does not prevent people from bring their own or serving themselves.
As a result of the coverage and commentary surrounding the law, Major League Baseball announced that it would remove the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta this summer.
Earlier this month, in response to the new law, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that it would be pulling the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta, as well as the 2021 MLB draft. According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, this is because MLB believes in fair voting rights for everyone.
The MLB Players Alliance, which is made up of more than one hundred current and former players, announced its support of the decision. Many corporations expressed their support for the All-Star games removal as well, including Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines. President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama also voiced their agreement.
Stacey Abrams, founder of voting rights organization Fair Fight Action and former candidate for Georgia governor, was not excited about this news, however. Abrams urged MLB not to pull the game out of Atlanta, and after they did so anyway, she expressed her disappointment. According to Abrams, while it was good that MLB wants to stand up against unjust voting restrictions, the decision to pull the game will cause economic harm to the same people who will already been hurt by the new voting law. It’s estimated that the decision to move the game will cost Georgia about $100 million in lost tourism revenue.
However, corporate America continues its support for MLB’s decision. More than one hundred corporate executives met on an online call last weekend to discuss their opposition to the new Georgia law–including Starbucks, Target, Levi Strauss, and LinkedIn.
Actor Will Smith and film director Antoine Fuqua also announced that they were pulling out of filming their new movie Emancipation in Georgia. They will be moving their shooting schedule to New Orleans.
This is not the first time that sports and politics have intersected. In 1991, the Super Bowl was moved from Arizona when the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And in 2017, the NBA All-Star game was bumped from Charlotte, North Carolina, after the state passed a restrictive transgender bathroom bill.