The MLB should boycott the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix over Arizona’s harsh new immigration law.
That is the idea being set forth by activists at Daily Kos and Change.org, who view the influx of tourism and publicity Arizona will reap from an All-Star Game, prominently featuring Hispanic players, as unwarranted.
According to MLB.com, 27.7 percent of its players were born outside the U.S. Of those foreign-born players, the majority are Hispanic.
An MLB boycott, both of next season’s All-Star Game and the state’s baseball team, is part of a larger movement to hit Arizona in its pockets:
Although a boycott of the state would be a bold move by baseball commissioner Bud Selig, The Atlantic points out that it wouldn’t be the first time a major sports league took a political stand:
If MLB did pull out of Arizona, there would be precedent for such a move: the NFL pulled Super Bowl XXVII (held in 1993) out of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona because the state, controversially, did not recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Salon is quick to point out, however, that the NFL’s boycott didn’t have the desired effect:
This was a noble stand, of course, but it also allowed MLK foes to reframe the debate and to stir popular resentment of interference from “outsiders.” On Election Day, voters rejected the MLK holiday by a narrow 15,000-vote margin. Proponents pointed their fingers at the NFL.
Eventually, however, other sports followed suit, and the state “lost an estimated $340 million in tourism.” A referendum was passed on the MLK ballot, and the boycotts lifted.
But would such a boycott work now? Salon isn’t so sure:
[The] political dynamic is different right now. Unlike two decades ago, conservative politicians have an incentive to thumb their noses at the boycott crowd, knowing that it will endear them to base voters who view illegal immigration as a threat like no other — even if the state is being hurt financially.
Although a boycott may not help in passing a referendum on the law, the MLB isn’t necessarily thinking in those terms. Failing to take a stance, and playing next season’s All-Star Game in Phoenix, may hurt the league in the eyes of 27.7 percent of its players.
Note: I originally wrote that the 2010 All-Star Game will be in Arizona – it’s actually in Los Angeles. The 2011 Game will be held in Arizona.
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