(WTVM) - There was a time when the closest politics got to sports was when a President threw out the first pitch on baseball’s Opening Day, or perhaps tossed the coin at a Super Bowl.
Now, politics is deeply entwined with major league sports in ways few fans could have imagined just a few years ago. And once again, Georgia is at the heart of the latest controversy.
Last Friday, Major League Baseball sought to punish Georgia by yanking the upcoming All Star Game out of Atlanta, citing Georgia’s newly passed Election Integrity Law.
Commissioner Robert Manfred’s statement said, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
That’s something everyone supports.
But looking closely at key parts of the Georgia law shows nothing that undermines “fair access to voting” or any “restrictions to the ballot box.”
One part of the law frequently misquoted is about voters not being given water at the polls.
The law prevents political organizations from giving voters in line anything, a long-standing, widely accepted practice to avoid influencing voters.
Another part of the new law says unsolicited absentee ballot applications will not go out, unlike last year when absentee ballots were sent to every voter, whether they asked for one or not, because of COVID-19.
The law also does away with signature-matching for absentee ballots, which many critics long argued was unfair.
Now Georgia absentee voters will have any number of ways to establish their identity to make it easier to vote, not harder. A driver’s license number, the last four digits of their social security number, or a bill sent to your address or even a government check are among the many ways to provide ID.
But instead of seeing these as common sense voting rules, organizations like Major League Baseball choose to play politics.
In the end, baseball is just a game.
The real losers will be the workers in Atlanta punished by the loss of sports-related income.
It’s time for baseball to stick to the box scores and leave politics and voting laws to the legislators elected by the people.
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