Since SB 1070 became law in Arizona, dozens of cities and musicians have joined a boycott against the state. The Arizona Diamondback baseball team has also become a target since the team’s owner, Ken Kilpatrick, is a well-known donor to the state’s Republican party, which has backed some of SB 1070’s most fervent supporters. Protestors are boycotting the team until MLB commissioner Bud Selig moves the 2011 All Star game out of Phoenix.
The boycott’s brought to a life an interesting question: Are sports a legitimate site of political struggle?
Valeria Fernandez reports for New America Media that while the MLB boycott has struck out with some fans, the message is becoming clear to others.
"I think it makes no sense. Sports have nothing to do with political discussions," said Simon, a Latino who lives in Tucson. "It’s fun and it’s supposed to be fun. There shouldn’t be any type of political involvement."
Many of his friends agree with that assessment, including his father-in-law, who is Mexican and often travels from the city of Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora to watch baseball games with him.
Some fans who are in favor of repealing the law frankly just don’t see the benefits of boycotts:
Fred Michaels and his wife, Sherry, said they were in favor of repealing the law, calling it "a dry fascism" and "redundant" in trying to take on the job of the federal government. Yet, Michaels believes the effort to boycott the team is "foolish, because there are so many companies that supported SB 1070" that it’s difficult to know which ones were more involved.
But as chairman of the Somos America boycott committee explains in the article, boycotts can force companies to reevaluate who they chose to do business with, and see the connection between how profits affect people and policy:
"The intent of the business boycott is not to punish companies by asking our supporters to not purchase their products. It is to get Arizona business to realize that their support of these individuals for even ‘strictly business’ purposes is creating conditions of hate, fear, and violence against Latinos and immigrants in Arizona," said former Arizona Senator Alfredo Gutierrez, chairman of the Somos America boycott committee.
In a clever video posted on Presente.org, there are clips spliced together that show Selig saying, "baseball is a social institution." As reported in ColorLines last month, the commissioner’s also said that the major league baseball would only "do things when baseball can influence decisions."
Though Selig refuses to move the game, there is already a long list of Latino players who have said they will boycott the All Star game if it stays in Arizona. And history may be on the protestor’s side. When Arizona rejected adding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to its calendar, the move cost the state the 1993 Super Bowl along with a ton of revenue when the game was moved from Tempe to Pasadena.