Why I Won’t Be Watching Major League Baseball This Year

COMMENTARY Civil Society

Why I Won’t Be Watching Major League Baseball This Year

Apr 12th, 2021 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
John Cooper

Associate Director, Institute Communications

John Cooper is Associate Director for Institute Communications at The Heritage Foundation.
Fancy / Veer / Corbis / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

MLB has made clear that it’s far more concerned with placating the radical fringe than it is about keeping me, and millions like me, as a fan.

MLB made the proactive decision to cause substantial economic harm to citizens of a major city over a simple political disagreement—and a dishonest one at that.

I will not be supporting an organization so bent on misinformation and division that it hurts people while seeking to profit off evil empires.

It brings me no pleasure to say this, but I won’t be watching Major League Baseball this year.

As a lifelong Braves fan, some of my earliest memories are of the World Series victory in 1995 and Atlanta’s dominant run through the ‘90s and early 2000s. Now, the team is poised for another run at the Commissioner’s Trophy after a period of rebuilding.

But, unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience be a part of it.

With its response to a voting reform law passed by the state of Georgia, MLB has made clear that it’s far more concerned with placating the radical fringe, who every day find new ways to politicize the nonpolitical, than it is about keeping me, and millions like me, as a fan.

>>> 1 in 3 Americans Are Watching Less Sports. Blame “Social Justice” Preaching.

It’s unnecessary to dive into the lies about the bill echoed by those on the Left, including President Joe Biden, as much ink has already been devoted to doing so. Instead, it’s important we focus on MLB’s behavior in this case.

Major League Baseball took the typical route for modern corporate America: It bowed to pressure from a vocal and radical minority less interested in the truth than in making everyone else conform to its political ideology.

But MLB didn’t stop there. It didn’t just issue some anodyne statement in support of feel-good progressivism or woke politics, which would be frustrating enough. The league took the additional step of actively punishing those it viewed as the enemy.

By ripping the 2021 All-Star Game and MLB draft from Atlanta and relocating to a state with similarly “restrictive” voting laws than the state it just left, MLB went far beyond politicizing America’s pastime. It actively spat in the face of citizens, almost all of whom had nothing to do with the reform bill to begin with.

This action by the league will cost local businesses and firms, many of whom are minority owned and operated, upwards of $100 million in lost revenue, devastating many who had expected the event to bring in much-needed business as the city recovers from the pandemic. MLB made the proactive decision to cause substantial economic harm to citizens of a major city over a simple political disagreement—and a dishonest one at that.

How is this type of behavior any different from an organized crime outfit such as the Mafia, which targets not only the person who crosses them, but their family, their friends, and their assets? Unfortunately, this is the direction our society is heading, thanks especially to radical elements on the Left who require absolute compliance with their political and social agenda.

We can, it seems, no longer have simple political disagreements about tax rates, federal spending, or environmental regulations. For many, everything must be seen through the prism of allies and enemies. And while that tendency is by no means unique to the left, the push to cancel and punish those determined to be “the enemy” largely is.

Compounding its inability to understand corporate misbehavior, MLB took this misguided stance on Georgia’s voting bill while simultaneously working to expand its market share in China. Just two days before pulling the rug out from under Atlanta, MLB signed a streaming deal with Chinese firm Tencent, which some may remember dropped NBA games after former Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey criticized the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights violations in Hong Kong.

>>> The Long March Through the Corporations

For most of us, sports are an escape from the rigors of daily life. They represent the opportunity to join with others and pursue the crown together. Especially in these recent days, they have played a more important role than ever in normalizing our daily lives. Injecting politics of any kind into this arena disrupts that refuge and creates divisions where there should be unity.

I’m sure many of my conservative friends will continue to enjoy baseball games this year, and I respect them in that decision. But I will not be supporting an organization so bent on misinformation and division that it hurts people while seeking to profit off evil empires.

For the sake of America’s pastime, and our national conscience, I hope MLB finally realizes why it is striking out with so many fans.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner